Smokin’ Hot Gun Opener To Georgia Deer Season

The bucks are active —  be ready for an early rut!

GON Staff | November 1, 2011

Taylor Wages, 11, of Jasper County, went hunting for the first time ever Oct. 16, and she’s now officially spoiled for life. While hunting with her dad, Maylon, Taylor shot a huge buck in Jasper County. The buck weighed 175 pounds field-dressed, had 11 typical points and a bunch of small stickers for a total of 20 points. “We are kicking ourselves for buying our GON at the store and not being subscribers!” said Taylor’s mom, Magen Wages.

It’d be hard to special order an opening morning much better than that! The stars seemed to finally align for the opening day of gun season in Georgia. It was crisp — dang near cold — there was a good moon phase, acorns were drawing deer like flies to mom’s potato salad and the Dawgs were taking the day off.

Why didn’t you go hunting?

If you missed it, the good news is the phones are still ringing off the hook this morning, Oct. 24, with reports of good bucks being killed and mature bucks already chasing.

Get out there!

Here are this month’s reports from GON’s Hunt Advisor Team.


Bartow County: Tyler Price, of Rome, reports, “Things are really taking off in southwest Bartow. A lot of good bucks have been killed the past two weeks. The bucks really started pushing the does with the cold weather. The rut has started about a week early this year. In years past, the last week of October and first week of November have been the hot rut times. The does are not ready, but the bucks seem to be. We have seen bucks following does but not running them yet. We have also seen bucks cruising near doe bedding and feeding areas both morning and evening times. The bucks have really been on their feet, and I expect that to continue. If the does go into estrous earlier than usual, I think it could make for a very good second rut at the end of November. Acorns are getting hit pretty hard in the mornings, but I’ve seen a lot more deer on food plots in the evenings. When the white oak acorns start to run out, look for those water oaks and food plots to be good food sources.”

Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “Things are slow in the north part of the county. I have not gun hunted yet — been hanging in there with my bow but am not seeing many deer. Acorns are on the ground, but white oaks are hit or miss. I have three big white oaks in my backyard, and only one has nuts. Deer seem to be hitting my food plots but mostly at night. I talked to Neese Deer processing in Woodstock, and they only checked in about 15 by noon on opening day of gun season — not good. Rut should be in about Nov. 20 for this part of the county.”

Dawson County: Tim Dangar, reporting on north Dawson and Dawson Forest WMA, said, “Deer have eaten my woods food plot up in the Amicalola Falls area, but I reseeded before the last rain, and hopefully it will come back. White oaks are hit or miss here. I hunted last week on Dawson Forest with a bow and saw one good buck out in some pines looking for girlfriends. I had three does coming to a new DNR foot plot, but I managed to spook them before they got into bow range, ever happened to y’all? I plan on hunting the first either-sex gun hunt on Dawson Forest WMA next week, Oct. 27-29. I may get some revenge on some does. Judging by that buck being on the prowl, the rut could be just around the corner. Hopefully next month’s report will have some success stories with 5×7 glossies.”

This Dawson County sow weighed 165 pounds and was 4 1/2 feet long. It was killed with a blackpowder rifle by GON Hunt Advisor Richard Von Scherr on Oct. 17, 2011.

Floyd County: Tyler Price reports, “The cold weather has put deer on their feet, which made for a great opening weekend of gun season. In northeast Floyd around Highway 140, the pre-rut has kicked up big time. Deer are scraping and rubbing a lot. We found 18 new scrapes during muzzleloader week. Calling and scents have been effective. I had one young buck walk up and check every Charlie O’s estrous scent bomb I had out. The deer should really be in chase mode the last week of October and first week of November. The rut in southeast Floyd has not shown any signs of starting. If it falls like the past five years, the week before and the week of Thanksgiving will be hot for rutting activity. The acorns have been really good, and deer are eating them up. Food plots have also been a good place to see lots of does and young bucks. The deer have really been moving a lot in both the morning and evening. The food plots have been best in the p.m., but not too shabby in the a.m. either.” Scott Justice said the acorns are in pretty good on his place in Floyd County. “They aren’t as good as last year — but still pretty good. I’m seeing deer early morning and around midday. Plenty of scrapes this year. My place is loaded with rubs. I have found more scrapes and rubs where I hunt this year than ever before. We usually hit our peak around the second week of November. I have not seen any chasing yet, but I figure it to start pretty quick.”

Fulton County (North): Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, said, “Nothing earth shattering to report. Oaks are abundant, and it’s the best-quality acorn crop I’ve ever seen. Big, fat white, overcup and northern red acorns are everywhere. This makes it tough to pinpoint a nice buck for a bow shot. Mid-October had bucks still hanging together, and the third week they started doing some antler knocking. Cameras show mature bucks on their feet more during first and last light, but I have been seeing suburban north Fulton bucks more mid-morning than any other time. Rubs started popping up, but there are still not many scrapes. In the Milton area, typically third week is peak of chasing. I hope soon I have good bucks in the area on camera, and with this increased day movement I will switch to hunting pinch points soon.”

Gilmer County: Michael Davis reports, “The acorns are starting to play out, so the deer are having to move more to find food. It is time to start concentrating on browse. The deer are starting to move more in early morning and late evening now, and as more hunters start moving around the woods they will be more nocturnal. But mid to late November, the rut will hit, and the big boys will start throwing caution to the wind and do what I call ‘running stupid.’ Be in the stand as long and as often as you can during that magic time.”

Lumpkin/Dawson counties: Richard Von Scherr, of Dawsonville, reports, “It was a great opening weekend this year. The north Georgia mountains have been very active so far this year, and early indications are that the 2011 season will be great in the Lumpkin and Dawson mountains. Prior to the opening of rifle season, Brooks Deer Cooler off Highway 183 in Dawsonville had 15 black bears brought in and several very nice bucks. The moon phase for the blackpowder opener was a bit off. The weather was very warm, and the deer were moving late in the afternoon or early evenings with does traveling together. The morning of Oct. 17 was particularly good for me personally, as I had the opportunity to harvest a black bear at 7:55 a.m. She was moving up from a creek bottom toward a hardwood ridge with three-week-old fall food plots. The rifle season opener saw a better moon phase, along with much cooler temperatures, in fact the coldest opening weekend I can recall in many years, and food plots had received much needed rain. Deer were moving well in the early morning around 8:30 to 8:45 and again in the later morning around 11:30. Several does were taken that I am personally aware of, along with sightings of several smaller bucks later in the morning between 11 a.m. and noon. All in all this is shaping up to be a great 2011 season.

“Bucks seem to be working the creek bottoms with some territorial scrapes, and they are responsive to soft rattling and grunting routines, but this is more like kids coming to watch a schoolyard fight than significant pre-rut activity. That said, the bucks did come to grunting and rattling, and they were grunting back. Discussions among other clubs have concluded that we may see an early rut this year. Hunt the transitional areas between food and beds, and let the does walk starting in two weeks; they’re likely to have a tag-a-long if their flag is up.”

Oglethorpe County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “If opening weekend is any indication of the kind of deer season it’s going to be in our neck of the woods, then it’s going to be a great season! I believe everyone in our club saw deer. There was one 8-pointer killed opening morning, and there were some other good bucks seen. On the morning of Oct. 21, I was headed into my stand about 6:40 a.m. when I stopped and listened to the hardest buck fight I have ever heard. I could not see them because it was pitch dark, but they fought for five minutes off and on and also made some of the craziest vocal noises I have ever heard. I saw the most deer on opening weekend that I have seen in years. Our deer herd has really made a strong rebound from the past couple of seasons. I saw bucks aggravating does, but for the most part the does still have their little ones with them and are traveling in groups. The morning of Oct. 23, I had a very nice 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointer come cruising through checking scrapes. Most of the deer movement was mid-morning, between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and pretty much any time after 3 p.m. The food sources all look very good. The oaks are dropping good. Although there’s not a ton of white oaks, it’s not exactly a bad thing because our food plots are in good shape and should be able to carry the deer when the acorns are gone. As far as the rut goes, I look for it to be wide open between Nov. 5-15. Like I said earlier, the does are not really showing much sign of coming in estrus yet. It’s going to be a full moon the week of Nov. 7, but that’s still going to be the week I take off.”

John Seginak, of Comer, said in Oglethorpe County it’s raining acorns. “The deer are getting fat off them. Lots of rubs, a few scrapes are showing up, and as of yet, no chasing activity. We’re seeing lots of young bucks and does.”

Polk County: Michael Davis reports, “The acorns are starting to play out, so it is time for the hard work that everyone has done on the food plots to start paying off. I didn’t have any buck pictures on trail cams in the food plots until the week of primitive-weapons season, so that tells me two things, the acorns are playing out and the bucks are starting to show interest in does that are hanging in the food plots. We have already seen bucks that are broken up and have pictures of bucks fighting. I look for an early rut of early to mid November. The deer are moving at typical times early and late, but with a little pressure, a lot will go nocturnal until the rut. That’s when we need to pack a lunch and sit in the stands all day and not end your hunt early just to get back to camp to see what your buddy saw or shot.”

Nathan Purvis Jr., 8, killed his first buck ever in Hancock County the afternoon of Oct. 21. Nathan Jr. was able to get a shot on the buck after the 196-lb. 7-pointer bedded down behind the hunter and his dad’s stand.


Crawford County: Randy Kee, of Griffin, reports, “Opening weekend was the best I can remember for activity. Deer seemed to be on their feet all day Saturday and Sunday, and I suspect a lot of deer were taken. There were more trucks lined up at the local deer cooler than I have ever seen. The majority of the movement reported occurred between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Temperatures finally cooled off, and lows were down in the high 30s throughout the weekend, which probably contributed to the accelerated deer movement.

“Acorns are very much the major food source right now, with white oak acorns really beginning to fall heavily. Hunt the white oaks when you find them dropping, as the deer are attracted to them like no other food source out there. The water oaks continue to rain down much like they have for the past month. On our property, there are more water oaks than anything else, and these acorns will remain a stable food source right into December. Food plots that were planted in October have put on a lot of growth, and they too are getting a lot of attention from the deer. The rains that we have been getting in October have helped the food plots to thrive just in time for the rut.

“There were several reports of bucks chasing does on our lease opening weekend of rifle season. Most of them were small, immature bucks, but things are progressing well. Scrapes are being laid down with increasing frequency, and we have gotten some pictures of some really nice bucks working these scrape lines. By the time this issue comes out, pre-rut will be on in full force. Hunt the feeding areas and does, and you should have no trouble finding a buck cruising the area. The rut in our area usually peaks around Nov. 10 through the 15th. This year should be no different.”

Fayette County: Shane McMonigle reports, “So far, if this season was a buck it would have to score as a non-typical! Nothing typical about it. In my local areas there are so many acorns even the squirrels are slippin’ on them. It is as dry as I can remember in some time. Morning temps have been awesome, bucks are pushing does around fairly heavy in some places and at presstime it isn’t even Halloween. Go figure. I heard reports of some chasing going on and thought it must be the typical 4-pointers acting up early, but some folks have already seen quality deer acting like it was mid-November. I witnessed a buck that was two or older grunting loudly and pushing a mature doe the evening of Oct. 21. Things are heating up, and I believe the week of Halloween will be an active week in our neck of the woods. My advice: Don’t worry so much about the acorns, but rather set up on trails close to bedding areas, get your bleat can and grunt tube going and get ready!”

Fulton County (south): Alton Powell, of Chattahoochee Hills, reports, “It looks like the acorn crop is coming down. The stomach contents of a doe that I took during muzzleloading season was full of acorns. There are plenty of white and red oak acorns falling, and the deer are hitting them hard. I would take my climber to the nearest white oak grove and check it out. It looks like an average or better-than-average acorn crop this year. The moon cycle fell for opening day just past the dark cycle, so that to me was good news, as I seem to have better luck when the moon is in its darker cycles. I am starting to see the young bucks work on the trees and doing a little pawing, but I don’t see any serious scrapes yet, but that is coming shortly. It looks like it is going to be a pretty good season down here.”

Greene/Morgan counties: Bill Young, of Rutledge, reports, “What a great opening weekend — great weather, good moon and tons of deer movement. Deer are still concentrating on the white and red oaks, but they are getting harder to find. Food plots were loaded in the afternoons. The small 1 1/2-year-old bucks were running, grunting and making scrapes. The older bucks were making scrapes and showing interest, and next week it should be on. There were several quality bucks harvested in both counties. I trailed four bucks with my tracking dog last week; two bow, two muzzleloader and all were in the 140 class. This could be one of those years that a lot of really big bucks are harvested. I think I have already seen more 150-inch-plus bucks harvested than all of last year. ”

Tommy Sykes, of Griffin, arrowed this Meriwether County buck on Oct. 6. Jake, a tracking dog owned by Howard Martin, jumped the buck later that afternoon, and they decided to wait until the next morning to continue. They found the buck 40 yards from where it had been jumped. Unfortunately, Tommy barely missed the 24-hour recovery rule for Truck-Buck, but he’s tickled with his awesome bow buck.

Hancock County: Matthew Gilbert, of Monroe reports, “During the past few weeks, signs of the rut have really become more obvious. Scraping has really picked up, and rubs are being made everywhere. It was strange how limited any activity had been since the bucks shed their velvet, but after the first week of October, it was like a switch came on. Typical scraping is being done on the edge of food plots and old logging roads with some random ones being found in oak flats. With the leaves starting to fall, there has been plenty of activity in the scrapes to keep them clean. It may be that the cool weather and bright moon phase we just had caused the bucks to be getting primed up for the rut.

“Our food sources are pretty limited to the newly growing food plots right now. The recent rains have helped them get a strong start. All our plots were planted late due to the drought, but they are starting to attract plenty of deer. Acorns, though, are very limited. We have some white oaks that are loaded, but they are not falling just yet. The few acorns that have hit the ground are tiny; not much bigger than a typical pin oak acorn. The production of oak trees is going to be short lived through the season, and food plots are probably going to be the main attractant for deer. Deer sightings during this past month have been average. Typically, October’s deer numbers are weather driven, so prior to this past weekend, deer sightings were pretty low. During the great weather for opening weekend, it was not a problem to see does and small bucks, but those shooters have yet to show their faces.  Usually by now, small bucks are dogging does, but the ones we saw showed no rut sign. They fed in food plots along with the does and did not do much more than look at them.

“Our neighbors claimed the same type of behaviors out of the deer they saw. Hunters saw deer, but not what they wanted to kill. Also, we did not hear many shots during the opening weekends of muzzleloader or rifle season. We are hoping that people are letting young bucks walk to be the reason we did not hear a lot of shooting. We are starting this season with a lot of optimism and believe that the deeper into the season it gets, the better. So far, it’s been fun.”

Jasper County: Porter Ownby, of Lawrenceville, reports, “The acorn crop has been producing significant deer sightings. Food plots have not been a main source of food as the natural forage has been enough as of lately. The pre-rut is starting to kick in. On our club in northern Jasper, we’ve seen a small amount of chasing, and the scrape activity is also turned up. It looks like the peak will be around the first week in November. The bucks have completely broken all bachelor groups and are beginning to spar. Light rattling and grunting have been producing interest from smaller bucks while the larger bucks will only respond in the rut. We’ve seen good numbers of does in the mornings returning to bedding areas from feeding at night. I would suggest hunting all day from Nov. 4-8 for the best rut results.”

Jones County: Alex Bass, of Gray, reports, “We had a great opening weekend. Lots of deer and action. Around our place, I have always considered the rut to peak about the 7th to the 15th of November. From past experiences, if I could only hunt for a week, it would certainly be during this time, assuming the weather was cooperating. And if I could only sit three hours a day, it would be from 8 to 10 a.m. and the last hour of  daylight. But, I would spend as much time in the woods as I could to increase my odds. The next 10 to 12 days I would set up on the acorns, preferably at the edge of thick stuff. If you find the does, the bucks will not be far. Where you can see the food source and thick cover should work fine. I have a pine knoll that runs down into a creek bottom — seems to be a perfect spot this time of the season.”

Meriwether County: Phillip Harper, of Luthersville, reports, “The weather could not have been better for opening day of rifle season — clear and calm with lows in the mid 30s. Deer were moving great all weekend, mainly feeding on acorns as well as a few in the food plots. The woods are torn to pieces with rubs and scrapes, and small bucks are hounding does all over the place. We are right around the corner from the big boys coming out to play. Normally we see an earlier rut versus other counties in our area, but this year could be especially early based on cold weather and what we are seeing in the woods. Starting around Halloween heading into the full moon on the 10th will be prime time in Meriwether. Find the food source that does are keying on in your area, and stick with them. Acorns are hard to beat, but they are everywhere, so look for fresh droppings to find preferred trees. Bucks will also cruise downwind of food plots scent checking for hot does, so use your favorite doe-in-heat lure to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to move around this time of year. If you sit in one place and don’t see deer, move somewhere else. Get in the woods as much as you can this month, and stay as long as you can, there will be some big bucks killed in the middle of the day. Be safe and good luck.” Jason Swindle, of Carrollton, reports, “Opening morning was the best in four years — 37 degrees in Meriwether and no wind. Heard plenty of gun shots, and I saw five does. During the past couple of weeks, I have been seeing scrapes as well. This leads me to believe an earlier rut is very likely. I am still hunting near large pin oak trees, and the deer are eating acorns regularly. The woods are still thick, but the leaves were dropping on opening morning like rain. For those of you who use the solar-lunar tables like me, the deer movement predictions have been fairly accurate.”

Oconee County: Brandon Colquitt, of Lexington, reports, “Way too many acorns on my place. I have about 60 acres of mature oaks on my place, and there seemed to be a million acorns on the ground. Mostly red oaks, but a few white oaks are starting to drop. Deer movement has been very slow. A few scattered scrapes have shown up but very few rubs.”

Taliaferro County: Brandon Colquitt reports, “Hunted my lease on opening morning with a couple of friends. It was great to be in the woods with the weather so cool. Nine different deer were seen between the three of us, with a bunch of shooting in all directions. I bet we heard close to 70 shots by 11 a.m. The acorn crop is pretty good with 90 percent of them being red oaks. No sign of rutting yet on our place. I look for it to start here in the next week or so. On a side note, I had a friend kill a 120-class buck in Clarke County this past week that was in full-blown rut. His tarsals were black and stinking, and his neck was really swollen.”

Walton County: Dwayne Britt, of Grayson, reports, “We’re seeing plenty of deer, and the acorns are falling everywhere. We had a member kill an 8-pointer opening evening at 5:30 p.m. feeding on acorns. It’s hard to pattern deer with all the acorns falling everywhere. Surprisingly, with all the acorns on the ground, the deer are still very active on the food plots. I’m seeing some areas where acorns are just lying on the ground untouched.

“As of opening weekend, the yearling bucks are chasing does, and the fawns are still with does. This early chasing usually starts about two weeks before the rut gets in full swing. If we continue to have cool weather, I think we may have a shorter stronger rut in Walton. I still think peak days will be around Nov. 7-8. We seem to see the rut for a good two weeks, but it seems to peak over a two- to three-day period every year.

“I’m staying close to the bedding areas but making sure the wind is right, and I’m seeing a lot of deer moving through small hardwood funnels between bedding areas to feed. I have rub lines that some of the bigger bucks tend to hit every year just prior to the rut. It’s risky, but if you can get in close to the bedding area undetected, they will usually freshen up these primary rub lines and scrapes every three days. The rubs and scrapes on the roads and field edges usually tend to be active only at night in high-pressured areas. All of this goes out the window once the rut gets in full swing, and if I’m lucky enough to be in the woods on those days, I’m simply going to try and find the does.”

Gage Bennet, 16, got his first buck with a bow on Sept. 17 in Echols County. The 8-pointer weighed 178 pounds.


Camden County: Bo Russell, of St. Simons Island, reports, “Wow! This went down as the best opening weekend I have experienced since I started hunting in 1966. Muzzleloader week was slow, even as the cold front pushed through, and we were worried, but Friday (Oct. 21) people started reporting some chasing activity. Saturday and Sunday almost everybody saw a full-blown rut take place like every hunter dreams about. If your hunting grounds are near the coast and you missed opening weekend, you need to go ASAP. There is also more food on the ground. I have seen several live oaks dropping later than usual, tons of water oaks and a good many black gum berries.”

Emalyn Russell, of St. Simons Island, with a Camden County 6-pointer her dad grunted in. She made a perfect heart shot with her .243 and is offering lessens to all you guys out there with shortened shirt tails.

Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Daylight movement has picked up some in our area. Most of the agricultural crops are gone, and the deer are hitting our green plots and still eating on the persimmons. On opening day of gun season, we saw deer moving from 8:30 to 11 a.m. I think the cold morning had them up and about. Our temperature at 7 a.m. was 38 degrees. We had a couple of hunters take does, one at 9:30 and one at 9:45. The younger immature bucks have started cruising in the daylight hours. No mature bucks yet, but they usually become more visible toward the end of October when the pre-rut starts around here and they are looking for a doe. By the second week of November, they forget about us and are in full rut. Then any time of day will be a good time to be hunting for a mature one.”

Dooly County: Tim Rutherford, of Pitts, reports, “Opening day was a deer hunter’s dream with a crystal-blue sky and temps in the upper 30s to lower 40s. Everyone I talked to saw deer Saturday morning as late as 11 a.m. I was hunting on the edge of a bedding area close to a soybean field that the deer have been feeding heavy in. At about 8:05 a.m. I turned to see a good buck skirting the edge of the bedding area in some thick stuff, but I didn’t get a close enough look to determine just how big he was. That afternoon around 6:30 p.m., I watched nine does feeding in a food plot planted in oaks, rye, purple hull peas and Austrian winter peas before going toward the soybean field. No buck sightings. Saturday morning on the way out from my stand I walked through the creek and checked on some white oak trees, and there were acorns on the ground and lots of deer sign in the area. Our food plots have really taken off since we got some much needed rain in the area, and deer are hammering them. We’ve been getting some pictures of some really good bucks, some in the daytime, and we’re seeing scrape lines that are fresh. The rut should really pick up around Nov. 3 and peak out around the 10th or 11th, with the bigger bucks starting to wander after that to look for the does that have not been bred. With Veteran’s Day falling on a Friday, the three-day weekend should produce some good bucks. The deer have plenty to eat, so I would concentrate on hunting where you’re seeing a lot of does. Put your time in, and enjoy the show.”

Dooly County: Allen Waters, of Big Creek Plantation in Unadilla, reports, “Deer seem to really be on the acorns now. They are raining down, and what white oaks are producing should be dropping now. We have a good many fall plots in the ground now, and with recent rain they are growing good. However, the deer seem to be passing them by, for now, and are sticking to the hardwoods eating acorns. Also, our persimmons are falling good now, and deer are being seen regularly feeding on them. The persimmons and acorns will play out over the next month, and deer will start using plots more frequently. We are seeing rubs and starting to find scrapes as well. The rut will only get better as the month progresses in Dooly. Traditionally, the third and fourth weeks are the best for rut activity. A good cold snap the third or fourth week of November would be prime, but you will still see rut activity all month. Having to pick a peak few days is hard here, but somewhere between Nov. 17 and the 22nd. Deer movement has been good. We’re seeing plenty of does and young bucks. I have not heard reports of any really big bucks hitting the ground here yet. I am sure our next report will be different as these big boys are about to make an appearance this month.”

Early County: Sam Klement, co-founder of Huntin’ Is Good! and Country Goes Huntin’, reports, “The acorns are raining on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. All of our oaks — pin, red, water, etc. — are dropping everywhere. That is good and bad. The good… deer have plenty to eat. The bad… the deer are not having to travel far, and sign concentration is hard to find under one specific tree. We finally got all of our food plots mowed and most planted, just in time for some cooler weather. Our white oaks look good as well and should be dropping by the time you read this report. We planted a variety of Evolved Harvest plots this year with alfalfa/oats/wheat/clover mixes, which should give our animals plenty of reasons to visit our plots all season round. The bulk of the peanuts have been turned and picked around our county. All corn has been combined, and a few fields have been planted in cover crops now. On our club, we haven’t had a ton of hunting pressure yet. We had four does shot and one hog. We have many quality bucks this year judging from our camera surveys. We have had some P&Y bucks seen just out of bow range. I fully expect a couple to hit the dirt as it cools down and members start hunting more. I would also like to add the snakes are still on the move! While disking and planting over the last two weeks, we have had many run-ins with rattlesnakes — more than a dozen on our property alone by myself and other members. If you come south, bring your snake boots. My strategy for early November will be hunting my white oaks, which I have gone in and mowed under the drip lines of the biggest, most-loaded trees giving the deer a clean plate to eat off. These secluded white oaks are in some of the thickest, nastiest grown-over drainage areas close to bedding. I’ll hunt these mid-morning and our food plots in the evenings.”

Effingham County: Jonathan Hyre, of Savannah, reports, “The rut is on right now and should continue until the first week in November. I have been getting many different bucks on camera at all hours of the day. This tells me that they are cruising, looking for receptive does. Opening weekend was a success for many of my friends with some nice bucks being taken. The cooler weather definitely has helped a lot. The acorns are raining everywhere, with white oaks starting to fall now. I would definitely recommend hunting the white oaks, or better yet, hunt the trails closer to the bedding areas leading to white oaks. Every white oak I have seen has rubs and scrapes close by. Take vacation now, and hunt the rut!”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “Gun season opened with clear skies and frost on the ground, resulting in very good deer movement overall. The cool temperatures also had the young bucks feeling frisky, with scraping, rubbing, grunting, chasing and sparing observed among 1 1/2 year-old bucks on opening weekend. The mature bucks are still moving mainly at night, but they’re starting to open up serious scrape and rub lines. With the good acorn crop this year in Harris County, combined with the cool temperatures, the rut should be right on schedule, or possibly crank up a day or two earlier than normal. Our fall food plots are looking better than they have in years, and the deer are hitting them hard, especially late in the afternoons. Hoping for something a little bigger and better, I passed up two 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointers opening morning while they traveled together through an acorn flat. Anywhere with white oak or red oak acorns will be a good place to spend some time during the next few weeks. Funnels between feeding and bedding areas will only get better as we move into November. When I take some time off from work to hunt the November rut in Harris County, most of my time will be spent hunting over white or red oak acorns in the mornings, along travel corridors/funnels for cruising bucks at midday, and over brassica food plots in the afternoons. I’ll be hunting the does and letting the does lead the bucks to me.”

Schley/Sumter counties: Jake Smith, of Ellaville, reports, “The cooler temperatures opening morning were a welcomed change, and I expected there to be a lot of deer seen, but that wasn’t the case with most people I talked to. Mike Reeves, of Plains, reported a slow weekend with little deer movement, and I only heard three shots opening morning. With that being said, I personally had a good opening weekend. At first light I saw two smaller bucks sparring, and 20 minutes later four more bucks came by with the biggest being about 115 inches. I ended up taking two does Saturday morning, and Matt Smith took one doe Saturday afternoon. Does and small bucks were filling the peanut and grain fields late evening Saturday and Sunday. It looks like the majority of the does had two fawns, which adds to our problem of having too many does. If it stays cool for the next couple of weeks, the bigger bucks should start coming out before dark to feed and check does with the rut approaching. I expect most of the bigger bucks to begin chasing does around the second weekend in November in this area.”

Taylor County: Adam Childers, of Fort Valley, reports, “For the first couple weeks of October, deer activity was hit and miss during daylight hours. With the rain and cooler weather in the middle of the month came a noticeable rise in deer activity. Scrape and rub lines are beginning to show up everywhere. As of Oct. 23, the mature bucks have started checking their scrapes every few days but mostly under the cover darkness. They should begin to show themselves in daylight more and more every day until the peak of rut, which in this area will be the end of October to the first half of November. There are still several available food sources that can be the ticket to success in the pre-rut and rut. The acorns are everywhere now, and with proper scouting you can find the trees that have the most activity around them and key in on these areas. The majority of the activity will be does and yearlings, but this time of year where there are does, the bucks will not be far away. Also, the winter plots should be nice and green by now and can be a good place to catch a buck off guard as he’s checking for does. As the rut approaches, time in the stand becomes the key to success. If you do your homework and find good buck sign, hang a stand and be there as much as possible. With a little luck an opportunity to take a mature buck will present itself.”

Twiggs County: Richard Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “The time of year all hunters dream about is finally here, pre-rut. We start seeing some rubs and scrapes, and the world is a better place for now. Cooler weather is finally here, which helps a lot. Acorns are starting to drop on their own if you’re lucky enough to have them, and deer are hitting the corn hard at night. Robbie Shephard killed a buck they had been chasing for four years. They had pics of a velvet buck every year but couldn’t connect. Finally on Wednesday evening the 12th, he got his chance and made a good shot. Looks like the rut is on track around here for the first week of November if things stay the same, but stay in the woods the whole month because all the does won’t get right at the same time. Opening day was pretty quiet around here despite great weather. Maybe hunters are letting the little ones walk. This is the time to be in the woods. I just helped Alan Nobles hang a very nice 10-pointer in my cooler he shot this evening (Oct. 23). The buck should score in the high 130s. Alan said some does were already in the field when the buck came out. This is it, so get at ’em and good luck.”

Marshal Moore, of Brunswick and a student at Valdosta State, likes a little pork with his venison. Here’s his freezer meat from opening weekend in Camden County.

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