Season Of Georgia Booners And Brute Bucks

Many hunters are already saying the 2011-12 season has been the best deer season ever for huge bucks in Georgia.

GON Staff | December 1, 2011

Donald Vinson, of Thomasville, shot this incredible Brooks County 11-pointer on Nov. 10. The buck is entered in Week 9 of Truck-Buck, and it’s been green-scored with a net in the mid 170s. Had it not broken off half its right G4 tine, Don’s buck might have netted above 180!

Back-to-back Booners? We won’t know until they’re officially measured, but we’re confident Brooks County, way down on the Florida line, produced two record-book-class bucks — an 11-pointer killed Nov. 10 and a 10-pointer on Nov. 11.

We are also running down rumors of a couple of other bucks that reportedly are Boone & Crockett class, but we had not confirmed any other Booners at presstime. We have, however, confirmed more high-scoring Georgia bucks than we can remember from a single season.

The Brooks County Bookend Booners

Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, was extra special for former Marine Mike Holland when he shot this huge Brooks County buck, a buck he passed a marginal shot on last season. The buck has 10-inch brows, and it has been green-scored with a net in the low 170s.

We’ll have more reports and photos in the January issue. For now, get out there and get in on what may be the best season ever for high-scoring, top-end bucks. For some tips, here are the reports from GON’s Hunt Advisors:


Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “It has been a good month for the Dangar boys. I took a 225-lb. live weight 11-pointer on Oct. 25 at 8:45 a.m. in north Cherokee County.  The 11-pointer had a spike running with it and no does involved. They were eating red oak acorns. Still no sign of rut in north Cherokee. Thanksgiving week should be the ticket. With the once-a-week rain we have received, late-season food plots will be a good bet for post rut.”

Hunt Advisor Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, took this 225-lb. live weight 11-pointer Oct. 25 in north Cherokee County. It’s in Week 7 of Truck-Buck.

Cherokee/North Fulton counties: Randy Cooper of Nontypical Archery in Woodstock, reports, “I wish I had the ability to allow people to feel the exhilaration of seeing over 30 deer chasing, grunting, growling, snorting, fighting and running full blast through the woods like they had gone crazy! Couple that with watching all this happening right in front of you and being so frustrated that you can’t get a shot at anything with your bow. I haven’t gone to the woods this year yet and not seen a deer. It started with the chase phase the day before Halloween, and it’s gotten better since. Collectively, we’ve been seeing big bucks cruising and cross-checking trails for estrus does and doing things they only do this time of year like walking right out into the middle of field in a subdivision while people are using leaf blowers and cutting grass and talking. They’re also using food plots during the middle of the day. To say the season has been good is an understatement.

“Neese Deer Processing has been having lines out to the street. Deer are in great condition this year, too. About the only thing that might have put a damper on activity has been the days when we’ve had strong winds that lasted all day coupled with cold and rain. Then there was a full moon that I call the rutting moon right in the middle of the period when scrapes went cold and filled in with leaves. In that case, I knew bucks were locked down with does and not moving much. I think the warmer-than-normal temps had an effect on movement as well.

“Looking into December and January, I will be concentrating on food plots or any natural food still left in the woods like privet, which never fails in the late season. I’ll still be using calls and scents because 28 days after you notice the first sign of breeding taking place, the does that didn’t conceive during the first estrus cycle will come into estrus again and even a third time after that in January.”

Alex Branch, 11, of Madison, shot this 150-class Morgan County buck at 30 yards as it made a scrape.

Dawson County: Tim Dangar said his brother Rick took a nice mountain 8-pointer in the Amicalola Falls area on Oct. 31 at 8 a.m. “His buck had smaller bucks with it, and they were feeding on red oak acorns. I believe the rut will peak during Thanksgiving week for Dawson County.” Rick took a good 10-pointer on Dawson Forest WMA on Nov. 17 at 7:30 a.m. on the first buck-only hunt. “He saw another shooter buck a little after 7, but it did not hang around long enough for a shot. The bucks running single on the Dawson Forest hunt points to about another week for full throttle rut. DNR has put in some new food plots with oats and clover which should offer some good opportunity for taking late-season deer. I am looking forward to sitting on one with my bow when it opens in December.”

Cody Von Scherr, 8, of Dawsonville, killed his first-ever deer in Lumpkin County Nov. 19. It was a 150-lb. 8-pointer. The buck came to grunting and light rattling. His dad Richard, a GON Hunt Advisor, said it was a perfect neck shot.

Lumpkin/Dawson counties: Richard Von Scherr, of Dawsonville, reports, “This season has been very productive. The rut appears to have begun very early this season in the lower mountain counties. It kicked in on or about Nov. 17. Donny Brooks at Brooks Deer Cooler received approximately 40 deer, with some very good bucks, between Nov. 14-20. Additionally, Donny had another bear brought in that week. Several of the bucks’ tarsal glands are darkened but not black. The weekend of Nov. 19, I saw several goods bucks traveling in the early morning and being very responsive to grunting and light rattling. Scouting reports from both counties indicate bucks are scraping and rubbing trees, and activity levels are very high. I received several reports from adjoining properties about bucks chasing does. The next two weeks in Dawson and Lumpkin, the bucks will be in full rut and should be chasing the does consistently.

“The first two weeks of December will likely be very slow as the full moon will fall on the 10th and 11th, and bucks will likely be recovering from the first rut. The chances of a late-season buck during Christmas week may be good if the secondary rut comes in early (as we have seen in November). Hunt the transition areas between food sources and bedding areas where the does are during the weeks of Dec. 17 through the end of the year. Good bucks will be trying to replenish their fat stores while still being interested in the girls.”

Jacob Castleberry, of Cumming, shot this massive 10-pointer on public land! Jacob was hunting Coosawatee WMA in Murray County the morning of Nov. 11 when he shot the buck. It’s been green-scored with a gross of 170 inches.

Oglethorpe County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Although I have not pulled the trigger on a big buck this season, I have had one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had in years. I started seeing plenty of deer during muzzleloader season, and it has not let up a bit. I took off the week of Nov. 7-11, and I saw a lot of deer every day. The evening of Nov. 9, I began to see serious rut activity, and I let a shooter get by me chasing a doe. After the 9th, I saw a lot of bucks and a lot of chasing. I saw several nice bucks with a lot of promise for next year. On the morning of the 12th, I witnessed a first for me.  I watched a very nice 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointer breed a doe 20 yards in front of me. The weekend before Thanksgiving there was still some chasing going on; however, I did not see as much as the previous week. If I had to rate our season, I would say it’s very good as far as deer seen and rut activity.

“The rest of the season I will be concentrating on my food plots and the thickets around them, as the acorns are all but gone. Greg’s Meat Processing in Danielsville reported they had processed more deer than last season, and the deer were bigger on average this year. I also spoke with Hicks Deer Processing in Crawford, and they said they had processed more deer than last season. Both reports were as of Nov. 20.”

Brandon Colquitt, of Lexington, also reported on Oglethorpe County. “It’s been a good season for me. I killed one with my bow, one with my lever rifle and a good 9-pointer with my .270. I never saw an intense rut, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. I have watched a few bucks following does and even a couple of them grunting, but no hard-core chasing. Our acorns are starting to get gone for the most part, and I will continue to hunt transition areas between food and their bed — that is, after duck season closes after the first split.”

On The Cover: DNR Commish Mark Williams

DNR Commissioner Mark Williams was in Athens for the weekend with his family for a UGA game when a friend called Nov. 6 and asked if he wanted to hunt with him on his lease in nearby Walton County. Mark is known for always having his camo, orange and deer rifle in the truck during the season.

Mark Williams, of Jesup, shot this month’s cover buck Nov. 6 in Walton County. Hunt Advisor Bill Young, of Rutledge, and his trailing dog Daisy helped recover the buck.

“We arrived at the hunting property about 4:15 p.m, and I was up in my stand by about 4:30. I was hunting on a long right-of-way and could see 300-plus yards to my left and about 150 yards to my right. At about 4:45 p.m., I was just settling in and saw a big-bodied deer down to my left,” Mark said. “I immediately scoped him in. Just by looking at his body, I knew he was a mature buck. He had his head up in the branches marking a scrape that I later discovered. When he lowered his head, I saw his rack was as impressive as his frame. I squeezed off a shot, and he bolted. I walked down to the area and found a good blood trail.”

They trailed the buck for 75 yards when they decided to call a trailing dog.

“They could not get there until after 8 p.m., and it was the longest hour and a half I can remember. When they arrived, their dog Daisy took us straight to the buck that was down by the creek. I had never met the folks that helped me find my trophy, but they treated me like we were long-time friends. That is one of the things I appreciate most about hunting and fishing. There is a universal bond among outdoorsmen that allows us to make true friendships. I know I made several that afternoon.”

It’s worth mentioning GON had to twist Mark’s arm to let us photograph him with his buck for a cover. “I’m sure there’s a kid with a big buck that’ll make a better cover,” Mark said. And there is, and that young man will be on an upcoming cover. But we’ve never had a chance to even photograph a previous DNR commissioner with a deer, much less a cover-quality buck. It’s noteworthy for Georgia sportsmen that the current DNR commissioner is an active hunter and fisherman.


Baldwin/Washington counties: MacKay Bloodworth, of Milledgeville, reports, “This season began with good rutting activity. I attribute this to the unusually cool weather we had the first part of the season. Since then, the rut seemed to follow the crazy hot and cold weather patterns we had. The GON Rut Map seems to be pretty accurate for the Baldwin/Washington county area. The full moon fell on Nov. 10, which was just about when the rut was getting into full swing. This made for some non-typical hunting hours. But all in all, it has been a very pronounced rut around here with a lot of deer moving. I have been hunting hard and only went to the woods twice and didn’t see deer from the stand. Even then, I either saw deer when I was going in or coming out. On Nov. 15, I was able to close the deal with a good 9-pointer that had all his attention focused on his female companion. I visited with Gordon Veal at Creekside Taxidermy who had several dozen trophies already brought in by the middle of the month. Those included massive deer from Baldwin, Jones and Putnam. Though the peak of the rut has passed, that doesn’t mean it’s time to quit hunting. The acorns are nearing the end, and there is plenty of food on the ground. Though it may be decreased somewhat, I expect to continue seeing some rutting activity into the first weeks of December. The number of hunters in the woods is dropping each week. If you’re not ready to give up, time spent in the woods during December could pay off.”

Fulton County (south): Alton Powell, of Chattahoochee Hills, reports, “There has been a big change in the woods since I last reported in November. The leaves have pretty much fallen, and the woods are more open now. That, coupled with the full moon about the middle of November, seemed to make the deer scarce up in the hardwoods. It seemed November started out strong, but a lot of warm weather and the woods getting more open  have made the hunting tougher in this area. Those good-looking hardwoods are easy for the hunter to see in, but the deer have moved into the thicker stuff and maybe are more nocturnal right now. The season has been pretty good in our area to start, but it seems to have tapered off. The rut started strong in late October but seems to be sporadic now. The local deer processor had a lot of does and small bucks but not many really good trophies. That has also been my experience as I have hunted hard and it seems a little bit depressing. For the upcoming month, I expect the deer to move, and they may already have moved, from the open hardwoods into the thick stuff along creeks and the isolated pockets of hardwoods with acorns along the creeks. I have seen lots of signs in these areas, but I believe the deer are going into the open hardwoods at night.  There have been plenty of acorns, so I think they are laying up near the food source but not in the open since the leaves fell. Here in south Fulton, I think the hunting will improve if we get out of this extremely warm weather. I would put my climber along the creeks at or near the thick stuff.”

Kevin Courchaine, of Rutledge, shot this Newton County buck on Oct. 29.

Greene/Morgan counties: Bill Young, of Rutledge, reports, “The rut, is it over, or has it started? I don’t know! There have been a lot of super bucks killed in Morgan and Greene. Little bucks are running, grunting and acting foolish. The big bucks that are being harvested are cruising, fighting, tending does but not running or chasing. The bucks are still working scrapes, and usually when the rut is going they don’t take time to play in the dirt. The warmer weather has our food plots smoking, so if we get some cold weather, late-season food plots should be good. Also, I’m still seeing acorns in the woods and while dressing deer. I can’t wait to see the statistics, but this seems to be one of the best big-buck seasons I can remember.”

Jasper County: Porter Ownby, of Lawrenceville, reports, “The primary rut has pretty much finished off. The majority of does have already been bred, but the few that haven’t should come into a secondary estrus cycle around the beginning of December. Look for does around field edges and winter food plots. If they are acting skittish, they could have a buck close behind. Planted rye, clover or peas are going to be an important food source as forage significantly drops off through December.”

Hunt Advisor Curtis Finch, of Macon, shot this Jones County buck on Nov. 6.

Jones County: Alex Bass, of Gray, reports, “The weather has been warmer than I would prefer in November, although that hasn’t stopped local hunters from taking some really nice bucks. There seems to be fewer shots being heard from the stand yet more quality bucks showing up at the coolers. My taxidermist, Mike White from nearby Buckmaster Taxidermy, said they have received over 150 deer to mount as of mid November. More people are managing for quality bucks on smaller tracts of land, and I believe these numbers to be a result of the tried-and-true method of waiting on the big one instead of just settling for a decent buck. Our bucks are still showing signs of pre-rut activity with new scrapes showing up almost daily. When the temperature cools here a little, I expect another wave of does to come into estrus, and it should make for some great hunting. I was hoping for some cold holiday weather. In years past, Thanksgiving week has produced a lot of priceless hunting memories with family and friends. With Thanksgiving in mind, I sure am thankful for our Lord and what he has provided for us all!

“Hunting for a trophy buck in December can be a challenge. The bucks have been educated to new levels, and the rut has about run its course. Thickets are a good place to set up. You may not be able to see as far, but I can guarantee you will see more deer. Scent control will be even more important, as you are going to have to be closer to the deer and you are going to be brushing your scent all over the place as you travel to and from your stand. Also, be sure to compensate for those limbs and such. A scope zoomed in too close will make a tree limb slap disappear. It may seem like your bucks have just disappeared, but they are still around, just being more careful with their travels than during the rut. Gaps, roads, powerlines, etc. are always a good place to find a buck in the late season. Food plots are a good bet. Those who planted winter plots are probably starting to reap their rewards. The deer are giving our plots more and more attention already. Acorns in our surrounding areas are still falling, although trees on our hunting property seem to be about done producing. There are plenty of acorns on the ground. As I talk with other local hunters, I get a different answers from them. Some have acorns still falling with no end in sight, some are done, others never had any at all. My friend Craig Greene, an avid bowhunter, put it best. He’s said to me several times, ‘the only thing predictable about a white-tailed buck is that he is not predictable.’ The bucks I have hunted have proven this true on many occasions. The good news is this means anything can happen at any given time, so be ready, because it usually happens when you least expect it. My biggest buck came by about five minutes after I had to talk myself into sitting for another 15 minutes. Sure glad I stayed, cause the lazy and cold side of me wanted to head to the truck!”

Curtis Finch, of Macon, also reports on Jones County. “This year has been a pretty fair year considering our acorn crop was not real good this year,” Curtis said. “We saw good deer from time to time, but it has not been consistent due to the lack of acorns, I believe. I shot a nice 8-pointer the evening of Nov. 6 that came through a creek bottom just cruising by himself. There have also been another couple of bucks shot on the club. I have not seen any chasing whatsoever on my club, and this has been unusual for us. Usually our best week is the second week of November, but in years the best time was the week of Thanksgiving. Once the month of December hits, I feel really your only option is gonna be to hunt your food plots. The deer hunting gets a lot harder that time of year, and the deer have pretty much got you figured out. Your best bet is maybe to hunt a stand that you haven’t hunted this year if that’s a possibility. It never hurts to try to hunt a place that has been ignored the whole first part of the season.”

Meriwether County: Phillip Harper, of Luthersville, reports, “The rut really got cranked up in our area around the last week of October. On our farm a heavy 140-class 11-pointer was killed Oct. 28 standing over a scrape in the morning. Once it got going, rutting activity predictably would peak after a cold front and simmer down on hot afternoons. Mornings seem to have been especially good, and most big bucks I’ve heard about were killed in and around acorns. Although the real magical time has passed, we typically see secondary rut activity from Thanksgiving into early December. Food plots that have barely been touched should get hot again once the acorns are gone. Once the leaves and acorns are gone, move out of the hardwoods and back to trails leading from thick bedding areas to available food sources, just like in early bow season. We normally pick a weekend in late December and shoot a few does. It’s a great time to take kids and maybe put some deer meat in someone’s freezer that would appreciate it for Christmas.”

Jason Swindle, of Carrollton, reports, “The deer-hunting season in Meriwether County has been excellent. I saw multiple bucks chasing does between Nov. 1-11. Many of these bucks were 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 year olds. We have been passing up these younger bucks to allow them to mature. Since the QDM regulations came into effect in Meriwether, we have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of bucks. I have seen a couple of shooter bucks moving during the day as well but haven’t harvested one yet. The weather has been a significant factor. I keep an eye on the barometric pressure during the days I am able to hunt. When the pressure is above 30.2, the buck movement significantly increases. The pressure usually rises this high about a day after a cold front moves through. Today is Nov. 17, and I believe the rut should be coming to a close in Meriwether. Additionally, I saw chasing very early this year. Quite frankly, late-season is pretty tough hunting. By December, most of the deer have gone nocturnal. However, I have seen some buck movement from time to time in December. Again, the barometric pressure seems to be the most important factor. In December, the deer will bed in the thickest areas in close proximity to healthy food plots or wooded areas that still have acorns. I usually try to set up close to these bedding areas this time of year to catch deer moving right at daylight or right before dark.”

Rockdale/Henry counties: Eric Hall reports, “Last week we had the best rut we have ever had. Several large deer were killed from Monday the 7th to Tuesday the 15th. The big boys were up and moving and were more vocal than ever before. Seemed like I was hearing one grunt every few minutes. There were several instances when I saw more than one good buck following a doe. This was going on throughout the day. I killed my best buck ever Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. Temp was 76, but that didn’t slow them down. He was trailing a doe and grunting every step. One morning I was seeing so many bucks chasing I called home and had my wife bring my daughter to me. We got back in the stand around 8, and she shot her first-ever buck by 8:15, a beautiful 8-pointer. The rut seemed to be over or slowing down a bunch by the 17th. It was right on schedule with what we are used to but was much more intense than years past. Food and some cold mornings were factors that helped this year. December is typically a slow time for us. Buck tags are getting scarce in our club at this point. There are still plenty of acorns, however, and our food plots look great. We may still have a few good hunts left.”

Walton County: Dwayne Britt, of Grayson, reports, “Insane numbers of acorns made it difficult to pattern deer this year, so I put some of my focus into hunting the bedding area where I had raked my trail out just prior to the rut. I shot a 120-class 11-pointer during the late morning as he was moving around in the bedding area. I saw a couple of decent bucks cruising or following does the first week of November, and my cousin Britt Martin shot an older heavy-beamed 7-pointer chasing does on Nov. 8. The buck had multiple wounds around his eyes, ears and neck. He had part of his ear ripped off and a puncture wound from being horned in his neck. The rut appeared to be intense, but I believe a lot of the activity occurred at night during the full moon, and the high winds also played a big part in our limited sightings. Even with the full moon and strong winds, our deer processor has received a record number of deer so far this year.

“I try to stay out of the food plots after bow season and hunt them some at the end of the season if looking to take a doe. The acorns should be gone by then; however, this year was very unusual and I’m still seeing a lot of acorns fall. Red oaks were a favorite this year, and any producing late will probably be active as well as white oaks. After Thanksgiving, I’ll probably hunt thick transition areas where thick pines and hardwoods meet. We tend to still see a couple of bucks following does or chasing into Thanksgiving each year, and I actually killed a 9-pointer several years ago fighting another buck the third week of December. It seems every year someone sees a really nice buck the last of December. I’ll probably hunt the food plots late evenings in December and stick to the transition areas during the morning and midday hunts.”


Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Overall, this season has been really good for our area. We are seeing more deer movement this year than in the past couple of years. We tried some trophy radish in one food plot last year, and the deer seemed to take to them so we planted several plots with them this year. They have been hitting them hard. There’s something about them they just can’t resist. We have some baited stands with various things out including some with corn. The deer still seem to prefer the green plots most of the time, so that’s what we have been hunting. Rut status as of today (Nov.16): it is in full swing and has been since around Nov. 12. We are seeing bucks chasing. It will probably slow down next week. Then the bucks will be scarce again. We have seen more deer on the cooler days. The 80-degree days seem to send them into hiding. I managed to take a nice mature buck on the 10th that was out cruising. December hunting in past years has always been tough here. We always hunt the food plots. Maybe the deer will continue to use them in the late season. If you have a good crop of acorns this year, that will probably be the thing to hunt. The deer seem to stay in the bottoms in the late season. Our local processor says that deer totals are up this year.”

Hunt Advisor Jodi Manders killed this big 17-pointer Nov. 10 in Crisp County.

Dooly County: Tim Rutherford, of Pitts, reports, “The rut kicked into high gear early this year with reports of bucks chasing does as early as Nov. 3. I took two weeks of vacation and hunted from the 5th until today (Nov. 20) and had a front-row seat of the action. The week of the 6th through the 12th was pretty rough with the full moon and the deer moving all night.  Although we did see a lot of deer, most of the bucks were seen at midday. A friend killed a nice buck on the 12th at noon, and we saw a monster in a green field that same day at 1:15 p.m. with a doe in the wide open not 75 yards from the highway. The week of the 13th through the 19th we continued to see chasing until the front came through on the 16th along with the wind, and we saw no deer on the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th. All together it has been a good season for most hunters; however, I have heard from some hunters that it was a bust. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time no matter how much you think you know. We did not see any monster bucks while in a stand, but we saw several legal deer for Dooly including four 3-year-olds that we hope make it through the season that should be monsters next year. I’ve always said that if you don’t kill him by Thanksgiving, you’ve got a tough job ahead of you. You’re not going to see the big ones walking around in the wide open like they do during the rut. Most of the agricultural crops are gone, but I noticed a white oak in front of one my stands still has acorns that have not dropped, so until the acorns are completely gone the deer will still be feeding in the creeks. We also have noticed that the deer are really hitting the food plots hard. I watched four bucks one afternoon feeding on oaks, rye and Austrian winter peas which leaves me to believe that the rut is over and the bucks are hanging together now. That’s not to say that the occasional doe will not come in heat during her next cycle if she didn’t get bred during November. I just think the majority of the mature does have been bred. I would focus late season on secluded food plots and areas of good browse such as honeysuckle and green briar. It’s important to not over-hunt your stands in these areas and let a good buck feel comfortable. After all the hunting pressure, if he suspects anything, he will move to a new area.”

Holly Canady, of Midville, shot this Emanuel County 11-pointer on Oct. 25.

Allen Waters, of Big Creek Plantation in Unadilla, also reported on Dooly County. “I am gonna have to say it has been an unusual season so far. November has dealt us with all kinds of crazy weather, unseasonably warm overall, with quite a few windy days and south winds. We still saw a good bit of rutting activity, not as much as last season, but we are seeing it. It gets turned on good, and then the weather shuts it down. One day I am seeing multiple bucks chasing does, and bucks fighting, next day I do not even see a deer,” Allen said. “Our overall deer sightings are well down from last year. The deer are there, they are just not moving as much due to the weather patterns we have seen. The week of Thanksgiving, weather providing, should be and is historically very good. We may see a more noticeable second rut this year. Total harvest numbers for the area seem to be down; however, there have been some good bucks taken in the area — several 130s and 140s  and one I know of that went in the 150s. Going into December, the acorns will play out, and the deer will start using the food plots and any leftover agriculture more and more. I would recommend keying on plots does are using regularly. Set up on travel corridors from plots to bedding areas. Other than keying in on plots and green fields, I try to concentrate hunting closer to thick bedding areas with available browse. With the leaves off, the woods open up and deer will seek out thicker bedding areas. Hunting edges of the thickest areas I can find seems to work well late season. Also, as December progresses into January, folks taking advantage of the newly allowed baiting in the south may find it a good strategy late season. I know from quite a few people I have spoken with this tactic early season through November has not been the magic ticket many thought it would be. Late season may be a different story.”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “There have been some very good deer killed this season in Harris County, including multiple P&Y-class bucks killed by bowhunters who continued to hunt through the November rut. High afternoon temperatures on-and-off throughout the month of November had a significant impact on deer movement and made afternoon hunting tough, with the majority of rutting activity occurring at night or in the early mornings. A heavy acorn crop in Harris also impacted deer movement, with deer not having to travel very far from their beds to get their favorite meal. Food plots were less of a harvest factor than normal in November due both to the deer feeding primarily on the large number of acorns and the high afternoon temperatures keeping many of the deer out of the plots until after legal shooting hours.

“Through November, newly legalized baiting seems to have had only minimal impact on the deer harvest in Harris County. Many hunters have reported deer bypassing their corn and protein feeders on their way to feed on white oak acorns and in green fields. As we move on into the late season and the acorns play out and the weather gets colder, that’s likely to change somewhat. The deer should start hitting the feeders harder as the temperatures drop, but how much of a factor that will ultimately be in the total harvest for the season in Harris County remains to be seen. After all, this is a new ‘hunting tactic’ for all of us!

Macon County: David Keene said he’s still seeing 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-year-old bucks chasing does. “I had two different 8-pointers chase does past me the last week, and on the 18th I saw a very large-bodied, mature buck trotting through a patch of thinned pines with his nose to the ground. He never would raise his head up so I could see his rack. We’re seeing plenty of mature bucks trailing does on a clearcut. We still have tons of white oak acorns in the bottoms. Out of seven cameras, we are mostly getting pictures of does and fawns. They are hardly hitting the corn — because of the acorns and the rut?”   

Taylor County: Adam Childers, of Fort Valley, reports, “This year has turned out to be one of the better seasons I can remember for big bucks. The number of mature bucks taken in this area seems to be a little higher than average, but the most impressive thing is the quality of these bucks. There have been several 150- and 160-class deer killed nearby that I have heard of, and I’m sure there are several I don’t know about. By looking at the Truck-Buck entrants, it seems this is the case throughout the state.

“The pre-rut was right on schedule this year, as things began to pick up in the last 10 days of October. As the rut approached, the mature bucks were more and more active freshening up scrapes and cruising for hot does. A definite peak of rut didn’t seem to be as defined this year, but I’ve been seeing bucks behind does fairly consistently since the first of November. On Nov. 12, my dad and brother decided to hunt the middle of the day. They both set up around noon and killed mature bucks and nearly the exact same moment. My dad Kim Childers walked to an area known to hold bucks and sat down next to a log. No sooner than he had settled in he heard a deer coming through the brush, and it turned out to be an ancient old buck well past his prime coming in to investigate what was walking in his territory. My brother Taylor Childers set up on the ground and rattled, but drifted off to sleep. When he woke up 30 minutes later, he rattled again and a mature 6-pointer came charging in, and he put an arrow through him at eight steps. A week later on Nov. 20, a rain came through making it too wet for me to work harvesting pecans, so I went straight to a stand in an area I had found some good sign and lots of acorns, and settled in at 9:30 a.m. I rattled every 30 minutes or so, and at 12 noon a mature 8-pointer came to see who was fighting, and I put an arrow through him at 25 yards.

“The winter food plots continue to be hot spots. The first couple of frosts caused the oak trees to drop their remaining acorns within a matter of days. The trees that still had a good many acorns on them dropped tons of food and attracted lots of deer. With a little scouting, finding these trees, especially the ones with lots of deer activity, is fairly easy, and they can be a great spots to hunt. As the acorns become harder to find, I believe the winter plots and the trails between them and the bedding areas will become great spots to find does and potentially catch a good buck in the daylight. When the rut begins to slow down and the woods quiet down, scrape lines should begin to get used again, although not nearly as aggressively as in the pre-rut. One of my favorite tactics at this time of year is to position trail cams along these scrape lines and try to locate the ones that have the most daylight activity. I will then position my stands according to what I see on the cameras and hunt only when the wind is perfect. This is not the easiest or most exciting type of hunting, but with a little luck and good preparation, taking a nice buck is not at all out of the question.”

Twiggs County: Richard Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well, if there was a rut in Twiggs County, I didn’t see nor hear it, but that didn’t keep hunters from killing some monsters. Just goes to prove they don’t have to be tearing up the woods and chasing anything with a white tail to get tagged. Now it’s going to get tougher to get one, and those food plots are going to come in handy. Numbers are down in this area, but quality is off the charts. Maybe some cold weather will finally set in and help.”

Wayne County: Clay Stroud, of Gardi, reports, ‘This deer season has had its ups and downs. Despite the extreme humidity and heat, deer movement was decent during bow season. Although most of the sightings and trail-camera pictures during daylight were of does, I did have one encounter with a mature buck. The opening week of primitive weapons and the opening week of gun season offered a lot of deer sightings. I believe these two weeks were the peak of the rut. Bucks were on their feet looking for does. During these two weeks, I saw many bucks, four of which were good shooters for the area. However, deer activity slacked off dramatically once November arrived. Sightings have been minimal. Trail-cam pictures have been almost entirely at night the last few weeks. I attribute this to the particularly hot weather. There has only been one cold front this month. Nov. 12 was the first frost of the year. With that cold air, the deer were up and moving. Once the front moved out and temperatures rose, deer movement began to slack back off. Overall, this season has been pretty average. Talking to many local hunters and meat processors, the number of deer killed has been high. Does and younger bucks are being killed in great numbers. However, it seems the number of bigger bucks  is down. The deer have been primarily feeding on the abundance of acorns. I expect this trend to continue well into December. Hunting over acorns will be the best strategy for the early part of December. Once the weather begins to get much colder, food plots will also become a factor. Food plots, such as rye, rape and oats, will be hot spots. These food plots will be especially good in the evenings.”

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