The rut is where it’s at

January is the time for the rut in the big buck parishes in Areas 1 and 6

You may have heard this another way; Talk the Walk and Walk the Talk, meaning do what you say to do.

In Matthew 23 in the Bible, Jesus told the crowds to do whatever the Scribes and Pharisees tell you to do, but do not do according to their works, because they say and do not do. In other words, the religious leaders tell you what the scriptures says to do, but they do not do it. They talk the walk but do not walk the talk. The apostle Paul told the readers in his letters to the churches in Galatia, Philippi and Ephesus to imitate him, because he does what Christ does; he walks the talk.

Last month, I advised hunters to hunt cold fronts, hunt food sources and hunt the rut. Now, some will say that anytime someone can go hunting is a good time to hunt. Sounds like good advice, but after 60 years of deer hunting I would say maybe so, maybe not. I have wasted a lot of time sitting in a deer stand when conditions were not favorable for deer movement, and guess what, the deer did not move.  I have also been in the woods when weather conditions were good, but the rut was a month away and nothing moved.  In my old age, I pretty much follow my advice: hunt the weather, the rut and the food.

If you have limited days to deer hunt, try to get in the woods during the rut, especially if a weather front is passing.

On Nov. 10, I traveled from Clinton to my friend Ken’s house to hunt with him on his lease in Bossier Parish, Area 2, the next two days. My prediction in the Rut Calendar was that the first peak of breeding in that area would be starting. The season had been open for several weeks, and about 15 bucks had been killed on his lease. Ken had seen some activity and had let one shooter get away from him.

My first hunting day, the front was beginning to move in, and we thought deer would move that morning, feeding ahead of the front. We saw a few deer but no adult bucks. That afternoon, the front moved in, along with the rain.  The next morning, we were back in the stands; the temperature was in the 30s, but the front was gone, and the skies were clear. We began seeing some does moving around, and Ken had a few spikes chasing the girls, along with a big 5-point. I saw a racked buck at about 300 yards and began some loud calling and grunting. I was looking west and finally turned to look east, and my eyes immediately focused on a racked buck that had stepped out into the row. I could see it was an adult buck and was blessed with a good shot and a nice 3½-year-old, piney woods 8-pointer. The tarsal glands indicated the buck had been working the scrapes.

I left my friend that afternoon and returned home. Ken was in the stand the next day, hunting the second day of the cold front and he harvested a beautiful, adult 6-pointer with a 17-inch inside spread. The rut in Area 2 was indeed going on.

Hunting the rut paid off for me with a November buck, something I consider a bonus deer since our Area 4 rut is December.

To illustrate the point further, on Nov. 25, I was in my stand on our property in East Feliciana Parish at daylight, while Ken was back in his stand in Bossier Parish. At 7 a.m., we texted each other; Ken was seeing does and some small bucks; I was watching the fog slowly disappear. At 8 a.m., Ken texted that he had just watched a doe being chased by four small bucks; I texted that I had a catbird at 10 feet feeding on poison ivy fruit.

At 8:30, Ken texted that he had just shot an adult 7-pointer chasing a doe; I texted that I was walking back to the house for coffee and oatmeal. Weather conditions for each of us were the same: clear and cold. The big difference was that the Area 2 rut was on, and our rut was a month away.

The author shot this nice boar in an area he was forced to hunt because of high water in late November.

On Nov. 16, the primitive season opened on Pearl River WMA, and my friend Mark and I were in the woods at daylight. We were both heading toward some cow oak trees that we knew had acorns. However, the past days of rain had the swamp flooded, and I wasn’t long from the bayou bank when I hit water. The ridge that I travel on was flooded with ankle-deep water, and I knew there was no way I could get to the area I wanted to hunt without getting wet, even though I was wearing my hip boots. I stopped and sat on a log waiting for more daylight. It wasn’t long until I heard pigs grunting, and easing through the water, I spied a black hog and dropped it with my .444. I texted Mark that I was going back to get my meat pack so I could clean the hog and pack it out. I heard Mark shoot, and he texted that he had a hog and was going to float it out. The high water worked to our advantage, which is another good time to be out.

January is the month for the rut in the big buck parishes in Areas 1 and 6. Generally, the weather is cold, and the acorn supply should be low. Does will be hungry, looking for food, and the bucks will be looking for the does. All of this adds up to good success for hunters in these parishes. If it is anything like the activity that the Area 2 hunters saw in November, it should be good, very good.

Hunt hard and hunt safe. Perhaps the combination of cold weather and lack of native forages will have the deer active, bucks chasing does and all the deer eating in the green patches and at feeders. And maybe, just maybe, someone will connect on that elusive new state record typical buck.

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Dave Moreland
About Dave Moreland 223 Articles
David Moreland is a former wildlife biologist with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for three years. He and his wife Prudy live in Baton Rouge and own property in East Feliciana Parish.

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