Late Season Deer Tips And Tactics

Deer Hunting Reports From GON’s Hunt Advisor Team

GON Staff | December 5, 2019

As I compile the reports from our excellent group of GON Hunt Advisors, I have my laptop computer in a deer stand for an evening hunt on Nov. 24. Hey, if you have to work this time of year, might as well do it from the deer stand if you can.

We will start with my Morgan County report. I saw 13 deer total while hunting a comfortable shooting-house overlooking a food plot of winter wheat with some greens mixed in—kale and forage rape. Six of those deer were young-of-the-year fawns, not spotted this time of year, but obvious fawns and button bucks. All but two of the young deer were by themselves. 

The other two fawns were with a very large, very dark-coated “nanny doe.” I’ve been trying not to shoot really big does, something I used to do, after hearing some theories about these nanny does and their importance to the local herd. I watched this dominant doe run off two other does and lay her ears back and chase a button buck out of the plot. Two young bucks eventually came in and spoiled the party in the food plot and ran all the does and fawns around and finally off into the woods. Before all the deer busted out of there, a 2 1/2-year-old 8-point buck appeared for about five seconds in the back of the plot at the woodline before easing into the woods without giving the does a close look.

Another observation—all but one doe completely ignored a corn feeder nearby as they fed for more than an hour in the food plot.

That’s what’s going on in Morgan County. Now here are the reports from GON’s team of deer-hunting experts across the state. These folks also included some great tactics and tips for success in the December deer woods.


Kenny King, of Danielsville, took this very nice 8-pointer with a 19-inch inside spread. The buck was cruising on Nov. 9 in Madison County.

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Going back to bow season through primitive weapons week, I would not have given a dime for the season. But after beneficial rains and cooler temps, it’s like a switch was flipped. I started seeing deer and lots of them. I witnessed every phase of the rut, from bucks laying down a tons of scrapes, to bucks cruising, multiple bucks chasing the same doe, to bucks on lockdown with does. The peak of the rut was incredible, but it seemed to come and go pretty quick, and rutting action had really slowed by the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

“Food sources are still abundant, with plenty of acorns on the ground and still falling as of the 24th of November. Food plots are in great shape, so there should be plenty of food for the winter in case it’s a hard one. 

“The rut has slowed, but the bucks are back to working scrapes, so hopefully the primary rut is not completely over and the secondary one will be good, also. I’m just gonna stay close to the food sources the rest of the season and hope a good buck follows a doe in, or he just gets hungry. I’m going on the Tugaloo State Park archery hunt the first weekend in December, and from what I’ve seen scouting, it should be a lot of fun. 

“Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Andrew Stanley, son of Hunt Advisor John Stanley, shot this Rockdale County 10-pointer with his bow on Nov. 6. The buck was aged at 7 1/2 year old.

Rockdale County: John Stanley, of Lawrenceville, reports, “It’s been a pretty good season so far in Rockdale County. We had a strong pre-rut, which is my favorite time to bowhunt. Late October and the first couple of days of November the mature bucks were on their feet in daylight checking scrapes keeping an eye on does. We had 10 cameras on scrapes, and most of them had shooters visit during the day, but unfortunately when we weren’t there. 

“The first few days of November is always a great time to be in the woods in central Georgia, and with some cool weather it didn’t disappoint this year. Deer were moving all day, and we had several encounters with good bucks as they instinctively knew the does were close to entering their breeding cycle. 

“The first rut appeared to peak around Nov. 6, as it usually does in our part of Rockdale County. My son Andrew had an unforgettable afternoon with several mature bucks chasing a hot doe in, out and through a clearcut where he was hunting. The chasing continued over the course of several hours. The buck we had been after for four years, Skip, finally made a mistake and stopped under Andrew’s tree, and he was able to center punch him with a Muzzy. We found the 7.5-year-old legend later that evening, ending a day I’ll never forget. 

Congrats Debbie Turk on her first buck! Her son Andrew sent this photo of his mom with her Oglethorpe County 7-pointer killed on Nov. 6.

“Shortly after that the hunting got tough as most of the does were apparently being hemmed up by bucks in the thick stuff, i.e. the lock-down period. I don’t know if it was partially a result of a bountiful acorn crop across our property and the deer didn’t have to venture far to feed, but it wasn’t one of the super visible ruts this year that hunters love to experience. We went from great, mostly all day movement to suddenly having a hard time seeing much other than 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-year-old bucks and young deer temporarily abandoned while the mature does were being tended. Warmer weather didn’t help the situation. 

“Late November and December will see the food sources begin to change and browse will become a bigger part of a deer’s diet. Early December is a good time to fertilize food plots to give them a boost prior to winter and help pull the deer back in. I also like to fertilize honeysuckle and other preferred browse; over the years I’ve watched the deer take notice of the areas I do this, and they’ll walk past other browse to get to the fertilized, better tasting and more nutritious plants. 

Brayden Littleton, 14, of Lovejoy, with his Spalding County 14-point buck killed at 5:50 p.m. on Oct. 25.

“Keep an eye out for water oak trees that are still holding acorns as well… certain trees annually drop acorns into December and early January while others do not. These trees are deer magnets in late season.

“I’ve seen some really strong second and third ruts in Rockdale County; make it a point to be in the woods a month after the first rut in your area. Fewer does will be coming into estrous, but the bucks are as ready as ever, and I’ve seen as many as eight bucks chasing a single hot doe. 

“If you’re fortunate enough to hunt in an extended season county, don’t discount late January as a great time to tag a buck. After the third rut is over, I’ve found that the bachelor groups will begin getting back together and food sources will again be the key. Some of the same groups of bucks that we’ve watched in late August will be back together in late January, often returning to the same areas.”


This bruiser is from Bartow County. Drew Eddy said he’d never seen a deer over 80 inches on the property until this guy showed up on camera July 28. The 12-pointer came charging in to a grunt call in the pouring rain on Nov. 8.

Fayette County: Jeff Scurry, of Fayetteville, reports, “We are seeing lots of deer movement and lots of deer the past few weeks in Fayette County. Mostly what we’re seeing is young bucks bumping and chasing does.

“The white oaks are dropping good, and red oak acorns are on the ground but are starting to dry up. Deer seem to favor acorns and food plots over corn or protein feeders at this stage. This past week we started to see mature buck activity on trail cameras and also transient bucks from other properties roaming out of their home range, giving us trail-camera photos of new bucks.

“We also hunt in Meriwether County, and the rut there seemed to have kicked in a week earlier than up in Fayette County, with Meriwether mature bucks on their feet sooner. We are getting trail-camera footage of a few bucks, including a 5.5-year-old buck I have seen on camera past two years. On our Meriwether property there have been lots of bucks cruising field edges, checking for does. Cold snaps after warm days seemed to have gotten deer moving.

“December should present a great second rut based on doe numbers in Fayette and Meriwether, and it should happen somewhere around Dec. 15. Deer at that time will be on food plots and even back on corn and supplemental food as acorns diminish. I also think more mature bucks will be seen based on doe availability. Doe numbers are high in both of my areas.

“Focusing on food sources will be very important in December as acorns dry up and as deer are refueling for the second rut.”

Colton Scurry shot this 5 1/2-year-old buck in Meriwether County on Saturday Nov. 16. “He was cruising the edge of our food plot,” said Colton’s dad, Hunt Advisor Jeff Scurry. “He has been basically nocturnal—a buck I have had on camera the past two years.”

Hancock County: Matthew Gilbert, of Loganville, reports, “Although the big bucks are not showing themselves to us hunters, this season has been a success so far. We have concentrated hunting in the woods in the mornings and food plots in the evenings. Everyone has been seeing plenty of deer and good rutting activity. The deer seem to be feeding primarily on acorns due to a strong crop in our woods. In the afternoons, we have been seeing some deer in food plots, but not the typical numbers. Those of us hunting hardwoods in the afternoons are seeing plenty of deer there, too. This tells us the deer are still heavily consuming acorns. 

“The woods is where we have been seeing the most rutting activity so far. This is one reason some of us are trying to hang out in the woods during evening hunts. Scrapes and rubs seem to be everywhere. The scrapes went cold during the second full week of November, letting us know bucks were with the does. Hunting near thickets and food seems to be the better options when the bucks are on lock-down. When a doe gets up to move a short distance, the buck won’t be far behind. It is just a hit and miss during these days by trying to get near areas these couples like to frequent.

“Our food plots have done well with the rains. We were lucky to time our planting with the weather, so we did not have the failure some others have talked about. Being patient on the weather really paid off this year. We normally plant in mid-September and did not get our wheat fields planted until a week before gun season started. This timing was not preferred, but it was necessary. Even though it is almost Thanksgiving, we are seeing results in growth.

Congrats to Regina Bennett, a GON member from Macon. Regina got her first buck, a Hancock County 8-pointer killed on Nov. 1.

“Woods hunting has made our experiences fun with the deer getting up close and feeding for a long period of time. The kids are having a lot of fun seeing deer this close, and it is helping their hunting skills to sharpen. Having to be still and quiet, the kids are learning how elusive deer really are, especially the older ones. They are learning about wind direction, noticing lateral lines in the woods, seeing flicking of tails, and differences in hunting on a still verus a breezy day. It has been very fun listening to the kids talk about their hunts, what they are learning, and their experiences. 

“The next weeks will be filled with some adjustments to try and kill that mature buck in December. And we will also start taking some does out of the herd. With the food plots going strong, and the acorns playing out, the changes will be focused around food and bedding areas. This season there is a continued focus to keep the kids learning about the woods, so they will be scattering out a little differently than when they were younger. With the kids getting more independent, the older ones are able to take the younger ones to the woods with them. Just this past weekend, Madeline, 13, and Turner, 10, sat in a box stand together and had a great hunt. 

“Our goals for the season are being met with the kids hunting more independently and learning much more than they ever have before. 

Landon Wach, of Monroe, killed his first deer on Nov. 2. Pictured are Landon along with his friends Davis and Wilson Gilbert.

“Also, Wilson’s best friend, Landon, killed his first deer a few weeks ago. Davis and Turner will soon fulfill their goals of taking friends hunting with them, and are looking forward to slowing down from chasing soccer balls. The three nieces have been able to get to the woods very little, and they are looking forward to slowing down to hunt with the holidays coming. This time of the season becomes the favorite as excitement of the kids fills the woods.”

Laurens County: Tim Knight, of Dublin, reports, “Lots of great bucks are being taken this year. Both my boys have tagged out with great bucks. As the acorn crop gets less abundant, food plots will be a great food source, but more important for December success will be the bedding areas close to the food sources. Deer tend to be much less active in the daylight after the Thanksgiving weekend for our area. Hunting pressure will be much less as most hunters have used up their vacation for the rut and out-of-state hunters have returned home. 

This funky-racked buck came from Meriwether County. Shawn Boyd, who works with our sponsor John Megel Chevrolet, shot the buck Nov. 2 as it was chasing a doe. They think this buck was 7 years old.

“The secondary rut should kick in around the first week of December. This rut is not as strong as the first, but does will continue to come into their estrous cycle every 28 days until bred. Just a couple days ago a hunter reported seeing a doe with a spotted fawn. This means that doe was bred during turkey season. I personally have seen paw marks in the early part of turkey season. 

“Afternoon hunting seems to be best after Thanksgiving. Try to slip as close as possible to known bedding areas and hunt. This will be my go-to plan for December. Light rattling and grunting may lure a buck into range. Good luck to those still after ’em like me.”

Meriwether County: Jason Swindle Sr., of Carrollton, reports, “This has been the best season yet, and I did not even harvest a deer. Here is why:

“No. 1: QDM — Four years ago, we decided to institute a rule that made 130-inch 4.5-year-old bucks the minimum that we would shoot. Since we only have 105 acres, we had to meet with our surrounding landowners to get them on board. Four years ago, we would see two or three shooters on cams or in the woods. This year, I have pics of 14 and counting. I saw a lot of nice 3.5 year olds. It was tough to hold off. But, it was worth it. I did make one huge mistake. I saw a buck thinking that he was around 110. So, I passed on him. When I looked at the trail cam, he was a big one. But, better to make that mistake than shoot a young one.

Here’s a jaw-dropper buck from Brooks County. Franklin Weeks, of Adel, says he wishes he had a GON subscription when he killed this 13-pointer on Nov. 3 (he does now!) so he could’ve entered Truck-Buck. “Not sure where he’s gonna end up as far as a score goes, but he’s a stud no doubt,” said Franklin.

“No. 2: Bumper crop of white oaks — I almost exclusively hunted in the woods. There are still plenty of acorns on the ground. When hunting near fields, the only way I could bring deer into view was to fill the feeders with the best feed mix I have ever tried; corn mixed with Acorn Rage. For every 50 pounds of corn, I use 15 pounds of Acorn Rage mixed on the ground or in a trough feeder under a roof shelter. It takes deer from 3 to 6 months to get used to walking under a shelter, and it must be 72 inches tall at a minimum. I have experimented with hundreds of feed combinations. This is by far the best.

“No. 3: Barometric Pressure — Based on studies at the University of Texas and other places, BP is second to temperature in what affects buck movement. I have monitored this for the last two years on our property. The ideal BP is between 30.0 to 30.2. As the studies show, and I have confirmed, buck movement is three times as great as opposed to any other pressure level—30.2 to 30.5 is very good, too. When the pressure drops below 30.0, I have noticed a significant slow down in buck movement unless an intense storm is just about to arrive and the pressure is dropping rapidly.

“This year, almost 80 percent of the days have had a BP reading of over 30.0.  I have seen a lot of deer.  

“No. 4: Rut Peak — I estimate the peak was Nov. 11-12. I had a number of bucks moving at noon.  

“My December strategy is to leave that property alone until around Dec. 8 when the unbred does come into estrus. That just takes the pressure off and can fool some bucks that they are not being hunted.”

Derrick Clement, of Nashville, Ga., shot this main-frame 12-point buck in Upson County on Nov. 7. The buck was taped at just over 150 total inches.

Monroe County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “Running cameras can really make you second-guess your decisions. I was not able to hunt the second and third week of November. When checking the cameras Nov. 23, I realized I made a big mistake. Two shooters were on camera during the daylight Nov. 9 through Nov. 19. One buck showed up almost daily on multiple cameras. 

“The good news is using that information I will be in the stand 28 days later during a cool front. This means the second week of December might be a good time to be in the woods, but really any time with cooler than normal temps and high pressure is a time you should be hunting. 

“Since Matt Duffey took his vacation and hunted hard during the rut, I asked him what he had seen in Monroe County. 

“Matt said, ‘The rut hit early, and it was quick—more of a trickle rut with a lot of midday movement. The white oaks were large and plentiful, keeping deer in the hardwoods with little movement needed to feed. The dry spell created later-than-average food plots, which also kept deer on the white oaks more. I’m expecting the secondary rut to be in early December with a stronger than average activity, along with heavy food plot browse in early afternoon.’

“The rut will be waning in December, but food will be even more important. Set up between bedding areas and the hottest food source. Look for bucks on the downwind side of any trails. 

“I’ve enjoyed GON as a loyal subscriber since its beginning but have never submitted a photo. I thought with this being the year of my 60th birthday, why not?” said Pete Mattix, of Eatonton. Why not, is right! Congrats to Pete on his Putnam County 11-pointer killed on Oct. 24.

“We hope for good December hunts. We will be doing two things. We will take down our electric fence that had protected a food plot. The second thing most anyone can do is to utilize the leaf blower to expose the acorns. We have a metal roof pole barn, and on Nov. 23 acorns were still loudly falling. Blowing the leaves away under a good acorn tree makes acorns easier for the deer to find, and I promise the deer will flock to the spot. We hope these tactics help with our ‘Introduction To Hunting’ event the first weekend of December. 

“If you missed some prime time like I did, no worries. It can be almost as good this month coming up. Find the food, and you will find the does and bucks right behind them. Good hunting everyone, and get someone new in the woods.”


Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Wow! Is it really December already? Well let’s take a look back at how our deer season in Crisp County has been so far for us. It has definitely been one strange season at Broken Arrow (the name of our club). 

“First, right off the bat there was no sign of any rut activity at our club until Nov. 23. We hadn’t seen bucks chasing does until then, and we only saw two bucks chasing a doe that Saturday and the next day. Maybe things are about to pick up, and we will start seeing some deer activity. I would say we are having a late rut, for us anyway. I have asked around, and some hunters are having the same luck as us, and others say they have already rutted. 

Vicki Crew, of Americus, with her Sumter County buck. “My wife decided to go hunting after a long day of work to unwind and be outdoors enjoying nature,” said Bob Crew. “While reading her devotion book and watching an armadillo under her stand, four beautiful does came out with their fawns. Then this 13-pointer comes walking over to where the does were. BAM… Amazing how God works. He turned my wife’s stressful day into a happy and exciting moment. Look at that smile.”

“There has been way fewer deer seen on our place this year, although there has been way more scrapes and rubbed trees than normal. We had pictures of a couple of mature bucks earlier in the season, but they never came out in the daylight hours… yet! 

“There have been some really nice mature bucks taken by our neighbors. Gaven Hamilton shot a really nice 8-point on Nov. 8, a week after his dad got one. Gaven’s deer was just cruising around.

“We have always planted food plots, except for this year. I truly believe that the lack of food plots has been the reason we have not seen the deer this year like we have in the past. Lesson learned! I’ve seen them walk right over corn to get to green food plots. 

“We still have some good hunting left to do. For December, we will definitely be hunting those known travel routes. The deer are definitely going to eat. If you have food plots, hunt them!

 “I always say, you can’t hunt them sitting at home, so get out there and hunt. God Bless!”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “The beginning of rut activity this year on the properties my family hunts in Harris County was as intense as I can remember, with either seeking or chasing behavior by mature bucks observed on almost every hunt we were involved in from Nov. 2 through Nov. 13. This was likely due to several combined factors, including a limited

Here’s a bow-buck for the record books. GON member Hayden Sullivan, of Albany, arrowed this 140-inch buck in Lee County.

supply of white and red oak acorns—and very few food plots yet available—which concentrated the deer at just a few locations and also caused the deer to have to travel farther than normal to find their preferred foods.

“As is usually the case in Harris County, these chasing observations dropped off significantly around Nov. 14 as peek breeding—many times referred to as the lock-down period—began and continued for approximately 10 days. As most of you already know, the period when actual breeding is occurring is a tough time to hunt because the deer don’t move nearly as much as they did earlier in November, and they’re also very unpredictable as to where you’ll find them—if you do. find them at all.

“As an example, I passed up a 4 1/2-year-old 8-pointer the morning of Nov. 9, and a member of my hunting club who lives on a small tract of land adjacent to our hunting lease then shared a picture of that same buck a week later bedded down with a doe in his backyard—right next to his swimming pool! 

Frank Cook, of Fairburn, got a doe while hunting in Fulton County in late October. Frank is 86 years young, and he loves to hunt and loves GON.

“As we move into December and the start of the post-rut period in Harris County, the bucks will be needing to recover from the stress of the rut in order to prepare for winter. That means they’ll be looking for both food and security cover. So, if you haven’t already, this is the time of the season to start hunting the thickest areas of your property, especially any areas which have received only light hunting pressure up to this point in the season. Additionally, deer seem to prefer to bed as close as possible to where they primarily feed this time of year, so I look for thick areas close to food plots and any remaining native browse, then set up to hunt along the travel corridors between those bedding and feeding areas. 

“What little secondary rut activity we have in Harris County primarily occurs during the second week of December, but I’ve never planned my hunts specifically around this. The small amount of late-season rut activity I’ve seen over the years is simply too random to depend on. I’ll continue to hunt both mornings and afternoons until mid-December, and then I’ll transition to strictly hunting evenings, with my focus either on travel corridors or on or near food sources for the remainder of the season. This is the time of year where I’m definitely hoping the food plots that we were finally able to get in the ground very late in October, and which are now starting to look nice and green, will start to pay dividends.

“And for those of you so inclined, don’t discount the drawing power of those corn feeders, because they should be able to help you top off your freezer with a late-season doe or two, especially if you’ll hunt them late on very cold afternoons.”

This amazing 170-inch Peach County buck was shot by Chad Law, of Elko, while he was bowhunting on Oct. 12. Unfortunately—and fortunately—the buck was found four days later. “The anxiety of not being able to find him for those four days was a feeling that I hope no fellow deer hunter has to go through,” Chad said. “We put so much time money and effort into these deer that we hate to see this happen, but it happens to everyone. This stuff can consume your every thought. You win some and you lose some, but I still consider this a win.”

Macon County: David Keene, of Oglethorpe, reports “Bucks are still running does in my part of Macon County and have been for a month. I had my 9-year-old grandson with me the morning of Nov. 2. At around 9 a.m., two does ran across the trail below us. A few minutes later a very mature 4-point buck came running behind them and trotted up to our ground blind and stuck his head in the window looking at my grandson. By the time I got my camera up, he turned and followed the does. I took out a grunt call that ‘Turkey Nut’ made for me and blew on it a couple of times, and the 4-point granddaddy came running across the creek and after the does. Too fast for a shot. He appeared to be a 4- or 5-year-old buck with a very large body. My grandson now has the buck fever. 

“Also, on Wednesday, Nov. 21 a large 10-point ran a doe across the driveway at 2 o’clock—middle of the day! Fresh rubs and scrapes are still popping up all over. They even destroyed a cedar tree in my front yard that I was grooming for a Christmas tree.

“Acorns are still dropping—red oaks, white oaks, water oaks and pin oaks. We are having the largest acorn crop I have seen in years. Food plots are looking wonderful. Deer are starting to hit them also. Our local sporting goods store is posting a new photo of bucks taken in Macon County almost every day. This is looking like a great season.”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well the rut was everything we look for down here. Big bucks were chasing does and being killed. Looks like other counties had the same luck by the looks of the pics GON is getting and the deer being brought to A&M Deer Processing. The weather finally got it right for a change with some great temps for the rut timing. The rains came at the right time, so the deer gods were looking out for us this year. About time, I’d say.

This 5 1/2-year-old Troup County buck weighed 191 pounds, and it has one heck of a rack. Chad Folsom, of Bremen, killed the 14-pointer on Nov. 2 as it was following a doe.

“Alan Shepard from the upper end of Twiggs toward Bibb County said things are about the same up there. He let a big one get by him that was following a smaller buck and hasn’t seen him since. Keith Walker hunts the land that joins Alan’s, and Keith said him and the guy who owns it saw 51 deer in one set, so things are happing all around, it sounds like. 

“The Shepard boys, Kyle and Kevin, on this end of the county killed some good ones again this year, with their dad David getting in on some action.

“I’m sitting on fresh paw marks and have watched four bucks work it as I sit here and write this, with white oaks raining down on me on Nov. 21, so I’m sticking with the white oaks till they’re gone. Then the food plots that I finally got to come up will be used.

“The second rut will hit around the 6th thru 14th if we have another one, and I bet we do, the way the first one looked. The fawns are still alone for now, so it’s a good time to be hunting.

“If you don’t have food plots, I’m still a fan of the roasted corn and soybeans at T-Lees because it brings in the bucks every time I put it in a new spot.

“December will be rough if this weather doesn’t hold up, but even if it doesn’t, they have to eat, so hunt the food. The fawn distress will bring them in if you catch the right doe without her yearling if you just want some meat for the freezer. Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas after a wonderful Thanksgiving. Talk to you turkey season I hope.”

Michael Lee, of, shot this mature 6-point buck in early November as it was on the trail of a group of does that came through earlier.

Wheeler County: Michael Lee, of Backwoods Life, reports, “Hunting has been pretty good. We have been seeing bucks on the move during the rut. The bucks have been trailing does a lot this year and hitting the food sources regularly. 

“Late season, food will be key in Wheeler County and all areas where the peak rutting action has played out. Good food plots are helping hold deer and give them a steady food source.”

Editor’s Note: Send your pictures and share your hunt stories with GON. Email stories to [email protected]. 



GON Girls Gettin’ It Done!

Two young ladies who worked at GON got their bucks.

Savannah E’Dalgo, of Bostwick, took time off from getting her nursing degree to bag her first buck, a Newton County 10-pointer. Savannah wrote for GON her senior year in high school through Work Based Learning.

Courtney Young Pennington, of Madison, shot this wide-racked Morgan County buck that was taped at just over 155 inches. Courtney worked full-time at GON for several years before graduating to killing giant bucks.

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