Nocturnal Bucks, Bumper Crop Of Acorns Cited For Tricky Georgia Deer Season

GON Staff | December 31, 2023

Bridger and Eland Stephens are cousins just six months apart in age, and on Nov. 19 in Tift County they had an afternoon of hunting they’ll never forget, both taking nice bucks on the same day.

As the pages of GON attest, plenty of fantastic Georgia bucks were killed this season. However, our Hunt Advisor reports are mixed, with many seeing less deer movement and rut action during daylight hours this season.

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Chattahoochee National Forest: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “It’s been a great season in the mountains. I have seen a lot of game, and scrapes and rubs have been abundant, and they still are. The deer are still hitting the acorns for the main food source, but they are getting more picky due to some nuts are not as tasty as others. Red oaks seem to be the sweet spot now, and that should hold until the season ends.”

Hunt Advisor Tim Dangar was hunting the mountains of Coopers Creek WMA when he got this piebald 8-point buck. Coopers Creek encompasses about 30,000 acres of Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin and Union counties near the North Carolina line.

“If you can locate some green spots, which is not easy to do in the mountains, a late-evening hunt could pay off. I was able to find an area on Coopers Creek WMA up around 2,600 feet that was getting hit hard for acorns. An afternoon hunt on Nov. 29 paid off with a piebald 8-point. The biologist who checked me out at the check station stated that piebalds are pretty rare in the mountains. I, like most hunters these days, run cameras to see what’s in a given area. But when this deer stepped out, I quickly thought to myself, there’s nothing like the element of surprise.

“There is still a rut to hunt in the northeast corner of the state. Regardless of what next year’s mast crop will be, the heavy nut drop this year should promote a great reproduction cycle and put the overall quality of the herd in great shape.

“Merry Christmas to all. Till turkey season, stay calm and hunt on!”

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “I have not been back in the woods hunting since the Friday after Thanksgiving when I took my 10-pointer, but I have been doing some scouting. I’ve got a young man coming up from Forsyth after Christmas to hunt a couple of days.

“It has been another good deer season, but I wouldn’t call it a great one. The population and health of my herd are excellent, but the past couple of seasons it’s been hard to determine exactly when the rut was. I’ve seen very little chasing, but I know it had to be a good one last year, because the woods were full of fawns this year, and I expect no difference next spring, also.

“As of the week before Christmas, some bucks were still working scrapes pretty regularly, as I have them on camera. Even though it was a bumper crop of acorns, I would imagine they are about gone. So I will have that young man sitting on either food plots or feeders the couple of days he is here. If I go myself anymore, I will be doing the same. I’ve got three old beagles, and they are ready to get out and stretch their legs a little. Until turkey season, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.”

Joe Slye’s Bartow County buck is going to rank well in the all-time county records once it is officially scored. Joe’s hunt story appears online at


Shelby Carlson, of Gainesville, downed this 9-point buck while hunting in Coweta County on opening day of gun.


Fayette & Meriwether Counties: Jeff Scurry, of Peachtree City, reports, “For a recap on this deer season, a lot of deer were seen this season in both counties. Lots of does and young bucks were seen this year. While about the same as last season, overall the deer numbers remain up in my areas. I believe controlling predators has helped with the increase in deer numbers the past two years.

“The older mature bucks were scarce this season. I believe the high doe numbers kept the big boys close to their home range, and they didn’t have to travel much. This can be one of the problems when you can have with high doe numbers.

“A few mature bucks I had on camera  during the summer moved out, which happens a lot going into fall breeding patterns.

“Overall the season was great, basing that rating on the high numbers of both doe and bucks seen, which should make a great season for next year.”

Rum Creek WMA along Lake Juliette in Monroe County produced a monster buck for Jarred Wilcox. “I wasn’t aware that WMAs had bonus hunts and all the other opportunities for hunters,” Jarred said. “I applied a couple months back for the Rum Creek hunt. I went the night before my hunt and camped in my truck at the check-in station wanting to get a jump on the other hunters. I got in right before the sun came up and climbed a good pine. I hit some grunt calls and waited. Ten minutes go by and I see a doe running in my direction, she stops and looks back at the buck of a lifetime! Pulled the trigger and dropped him like a rock! Man was I shaking! I was very glad for the opportunity the state offers for hunters who might not have a hunting club or land to hunt, I encourage all hunters to apply for a WMA hunt and try something new.” After his harvest, WRD staff from Rum Creek shared some trail camera photos of the big 8-pointer in velvet.

Macon County: David Keene, of Oglethorpe, reports, “Our season went fairly well this year. Three mature bucks that were 3- to 4-years-old were taken on our property and the property next to us. My grandson took a 9-pointer with a 19-inch spread and our neighbor took a 17-inch, 10-point buck that slipped past me the day before. Most of the rut activity took place at night. We had the biggest acorn crop that I have seen in years, and the deer did not have to travel to find food. We also have been seeing more hogs than we have ever seen. More than 100 hogs have been taken, and you cannot tell it. Several properties around us have been clearcut, and all of their hogs must have come to us.

“Y’all be safe out there and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a very happy holiday.”

This Baldwin County 12-pointer’s rack has character. Jeremy House, of Covington, killed it opening day of gun.

Monroe County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “The year has been interesting with a timber cut. Early season the open timbered woods had acorns, and the deer were there and a few does were killed. However, once that food source dried up, the deer have been limited on daylight activity. The only good rut action was near thick cover on neighboring property. Toward the middle of the month I did have a few bucks show up that I hadn’t seen. One stayed around the remainder of the season. I still hope to get him before it’s all over. If he makes it, he will be a great formidable target next year.”

“Since December the deer have been hitting feeders heavily. Most of the successful hunting has been in the evenings. Cold fronts had the deer coming in earlier, so you had a legal shot. Otherwise deer come into food plots and feeders once it’s dark. This same pattern will be even more evident in January. Deer seem to really come to food this time of year as they sense the rough times ahead. If you are wanting to kill some does, hunt cold fronts for sure.  The one thing I’ve noticed is that they herd up, as well, so you might see several bucks or a larger number of two to three doe family groups traveling together. This means not only do you have to play the wind, as the deer have been educated on people scent, but also you have lots of eyes looking hard for danger. An open ladder stand is difficult to hunt late season. I will actually make a natural ground blind or make efforts to brush in a stand to increase my odds. This is especially important for new hunters.

“So whether you need some meat for the freezer or you are after that target buck, getting close to a food source during a cold front in January is still a solid plan for punching a tag. Enjoy the remainder of the deer season and don’t just hit the duck blind.”


Cook County: Josh Blackston, of Adel, reports, “Not much has changed in my deer report since last month, although I was able to go on my WMA quota hunt and tagged a smaller buck and a bruiser boar hog! The best part about the WMA was getting to tag along with three generations of hunters (thanks Turner County bunch). Sitting around the fire telling stories was the BEST!

“As December comes to an end, it’s hard to believe deer season is almost over. Hunting was average this year, but the memories made are well above average. Sorry my report leaves a little to be desired, but with kiddos my hunting slows down after Thanksgiving.”

Nolan Dupree with his Dooly County 11-point buck killed on Nov. 11.

Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “As I give a final recap for this season, I can honestly say that I have probably spent more time in the deer stands this year than in the last few years. Early season seemed to look like it was going to be promising with fair deer movement, but it didn’t take long for things to turn around. Randy did take a buck the first of November. It’s been a hard year hunting as the deer movement has been way out of normal for us. They were very nocturnal, which makes for a hard season. We saw plenty of nighttime movement through monitoring trail cameras with a few venturing out in the daylight feeding through the food plots.”

Randy Manders shot this Crisp County 8-point buck on Nov. 6.

“I’m pretty sure some of this is due to hunting pressure. There was very little rut action seen. But we will finish out this season hunting anyway and just maybe something will decide to come out in the daylight. Y’all hunt safe and God bless!”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “We’ll be closing the books on another Harris County deer season in mid-January, and it’s been a very good one. I still haven’t pulled the trigger on a buck myself yet. I have seen several nice, mature bucks, but I’m probably way too picky these days about the bucks I shoot. But a combination of beautiful weather, outstanding deer movement and exceptional rutting activity have made this a great, and extremely enjoyable, deer season anyway.

“Although I haven’t shot a buck yet this season, our freezer is still full, and I plan on being in a deer stand looking for a set of big antlers until the very last minute of the season. I’ll be hunting almost exclusively in the afternoons over some type of dependable food source—cool season food plots, red oak acorns or supplemental feeding stations—wherever my trail cameras are showing that good daytime deer activity is still occurring. At the same time, I’ll be hoping for some very cold, nasty weather, because unseasonably low temperatures will increase the likelihood that a shooter buck will get out of his bed to feed during daylight hours. This time of year, it’s basically all about food—for the deer and for me!”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well, we have been blessed to see another year in the deer woods, and to some it was great but to others, not so great. But that really depends on if you want to eat or want to brag. I’m eating this year because the bucks just did not play fair for me. I haven’t seen a good buck while in the tree, but I do have my freezer full so maybe I can brag a little.

“The weather was not the worst I’ve seen for Georgia, and the rain came when needed, so I don’t know what the problem was around here other than a lack of does being seen. They were here, but I didn’t see them in the daytime as much as my cameras saw them at night. I would hunt pretty much all day and see nothing, and then my camera would start sending pics an hour after I got home and stop and hour before the sun came out, so maybe they had me figured out.

“My prediction of the second rut being good was right, but it happened at night for the most part. All my cameras showed buck pushing does at night on three different leases, and if it was in daylight, I was at the other lease.

“Looking through the pages of GON will tell a different story because there were some awesome deer killed this year, but I know there are some hunters out there who had the same kind of season I did, because that’s hunting. Last year was great for me, so I’m not complaining by no means. I love it no matter what kind of season I have. There are still a few weeks left, and we all know it only takes one good morning or evening to make it great.

“The days of seeing deer every hunt is long gone for a bunch of us, but the quality is getting great by the looks of the bucks being killed, and that’s the way it’s set up, so it’s working for sure.

“Good luck to everyone for the remainder of the season, and hunt the food source if you’ve got it. I hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and comes to the Outdoor Blast. It is a Blast if you’ve never been.”

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