Toby Kimble estimates that he hunted 500 hours this season in his home state of Louisiana. All that effort paid off for Kimble this month, when he shot a 182-inch 14-pointer.
Kimble, from Krotz Springs, hunts the Atchafalaya Basin. He has access to private land and plants food plots and uses trail cameras extensively. Last summer he got pictures of a giant buck with a rack that dwarfed its body (below). Kimble set his sights on taking this buck.
Overall Activity Status: The rut is on and deer are moving in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. “The rut is on in our area, but it has slowed some with the warm weather,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, a Florida hunting guide at Southern Arrowhead Outfitters.
David Hall hunts in Fulton County, Georgia, in western suburban Atlanta. While this county is mostly developed, it also has some wooded pockets with some excellent deer hunting—and, with an archery season that lasts until the end of January, can provide a bowhunter with some exciting late rut or second rut action. Last week, Hall had the kind of encounter lucky hunters typically experience during the absolute peak of the rut. Here’s how he describes it:
“I had to hunt super hard this morning (Jan. 9) as it felt “on,” so I kept my eyes and ears super focused. At 7:45 a.m., I hear something busting through the creek bottom. A small doe came from the ridge across the way and headed up and away from from me. Then she turns back and runs to the creek bottom fast! Behind her is ‘The Man.’
For most of us, deer season is over. In north Texas, the general season closed on January 6. In south Texas, general season lasts until January 20. In north Texas, there’s still a youth season and a spike and antlerless season (106 counties) from January 7-20. In south Texas (30 counties), there’s a late antlerless and spike season from January 21-February 3. Also, a late muzzleloader season runs from January 7-20 in 57 counties.
Trent Boudreaux of Louisiana has been hunting since he was 16 years old. Now 30, he’s learned a few things about the sport. And he taught himself a great lesson about deer hunting recently.
Three years is a long time. That’s how long Kurt Stallings has been hunting a wide-racked muley buck in eastern New Mexico. He saw the big buck late each season, but the problem was always the same: Despite the December/January rut that made the buck vulnerable and more visible in daylight, it was always in open terrain and surrounded by a mob of other deer--sometimes as many as 50. Stalking within archery range was impossible.
Kurt estimates he spent 20 days hunting that buck over those three seasons. He never got close enough for a shot, until 2013.
This year was different. The old buck’s rack was going downhill in score, likely due to drought and old age, but he still had a huge frame. Kurt decided to try whitetail tactics. So he set a tree stand in a tall cottonwood near trails used by the muleys near a creek bottom, which he’d found by scouting and glassing.
Overall Activity Status: I just returned from three days of hunting in north Texas near Abilene. The weather was cold, with a dusting of snow on the mesquites and cactus. Bucks seemed more active in the mornings than the afternoons. My friends and I saw anywhere from two to ten bucks each while sitting near corn feeders. The best buck seen was a 155-inch 10-point, but just as my friend was about to shoot, a coyote howled nearby and the buck ran in the brush.
The 11,200-acre Temple Ranch in south Texas’ Duval County has produced some huge bucks this season, including the buck above, taken by Jenny Roberts. The huge 8-point gross-scored 161 4/8. Tooth wear indicates the buck was 7 1/2 or 8 ½ years old. What a fine trophy!
Western whitetail bucks are no longer losing their minds and their body fat chasing does; they’re losing antlers. The rut is essentially over out West. There are probably some outlier estrous does, but winter has set in, and deer seem to be moving into survival mode. They’re also moving during the daylight to feed out of necessity due to cold temperatures and heavy snow in many areas.
Overall Activity Status: My brother, Matt, is in from Clemson, South Carolina, for Christmas. It’s an 8-hour haul from there to here, and he’s stacked the miles on his old pickup this year driving back and forth to deer hunt. Last night, he sat down on the couch, a sip of Christmas bourbon in hand, and said, “I saw more deer in the last hour of my drive tonight than I did during all of hunting season.”
Indeed, movement has been outstanding for the past week. Most of it has been around the fields, too, where deer are visible. Big winter groups of does and fawns, especially, seem to be more predictable right now than they have been in months.