Alabama WFF Director Explains Why January, February is Still ‘Primetime’ to Land a Buck

by Clayton Edwards

If you hunt deer in Alabama, the time to bag a big Alabama buck is coming. As the weather gets colder and the rut gets going in earnest, more bucks will be moving.

They’ll be out in daylight hours marking their territory and looking to mate. This increased movement and territory marking play into the hands of hunters who are willing to put in the effort to get out there and harvest a buck.

What Is the Rut?

Millions of Americans are hunting for the first time this year. If you’re one of those, you may be curious about the rut. If you’re a seasoned hunter, you can probably skip this section.

The rut is basically the mating season for deer. Bucks will be out and about with one thing in mind: finding a doe to mate with. With this new laser-focused approach to life, bucks will change their behavior drastically. This behavior change is why it’s a great time to land that Alabama buck.

Firstly, they mark their territory. Bucks will use their antlers to remove the bark from trees. These are called rubs. The rubs mark territorial boundaries, they also allow the buck to lay down more scent. They will also paw grass and leaves away from the ground and urinate on the bare earth. These “scrapes” are another way that bucks let other deer know they own the area.

These markings are important for hunters as well. If you’re out scouting for a hunting spot, it’s good to look for runs and scrapes. These let you know that there is a buck in the area.

They won’t just be alerting you to their presence by marking their territory. They will also be out wandering in the daylight hours. Sometimes in wide-open areas. Their whole existence is focused on mating at this point. Even the wiliest buck will slip up during the rut.

So, what do you need to do to take advantage of the rut?

Watch the Weather to Land Your Alabama Buck

According to Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, deer in most of the state are entering the rut right now. This makes it a great time to harvest your Alabama buck. However, you’re going to need to watch more than deer sign in the woods to get the job done. Sykes says you need to watch the weather.

Some think that warm temperatures during the day put the rut on hold. This is untrue. Deer will wait until the temperature drops at night and move then. However, cold snaps allow the deer to be more active during the day. So, you’ll want to wait for lower temperatures before going out to hunt.

Also, deer have a keen sense of smell. During the rut, bucks are sniffing for doe scent almost constantly. So, if the wind shifts and he catches your scent, it’s going to make things harder for you. Study the weather and try to find cold days with good wind conditions for your hunting spot.

It Won’t Be Easy

Just because the bucks are moving during the day and mostly focused on mating doesn’t mean it will be an easy hunt. You have to put some serious work into hunting during the rut.

For one, you’ll want to get some scouting done before you hunt an area. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the area. Look for scrapes, rubs, bedding areas, and feeding grounds. If you can, set trail cameras to get a close look at the deer population.

When you have your area scouted out and the weather is right, get out there early. You’ll want to be in your tree stand or blind a couple of hours before first light. If you show up late, you run the risk of spooking all the deer from your area. At that point, you might as well head home.

It takes time, patience, and you have to do your homework. When that big ole Alabama buck is filling your freezer, you’ll be happy that you put in the work.