Zachery Bond | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Up until the State of Alabama initiated a February deer hunting season, our deer hunting in south Alabama was destitute. Once deer season went out each year on January 31, I was just beginning to see pre-rut activity with scrapes and rubs starting to appear in south Alabama. The chasing of does I observed was only being participated in by 1-1/2 and 2-year-old bucks. We rarely if ever spotted bucks 3-5 years old in south Alabama. Bucks that size still were mostly nocturnal.
We always could tell that the rut in south Alabama was about to begin when deer season was going out on January 31. Hunters in south Alabama truly believed that if we just had some more time in February to hunt deer, we should be able to take some rutting bucks. When we would go put out feed for turkeys between the end of deer season on January 31 and the beginning of turkey season, usually around mid-March, I would start seeing every big buck I had trail camera pictures of moving in daylight hours when we couldn’t hunt them.
My cousin and I have 300 acres in Clarke County, Alabama, north of Mobile, where I live. Before the February season started, if we hoped to take a nice, older-age-class buck we’d generally have to take him during bow season before gun season began around Thanksgiving. But now with deer season expanded into February, we usually can see or get a shot at a buck that’s 3-5 years old. Before the enactment of the February deer season, a trophy buck in our area would be one that scored 110-120 on Boone & Crockett. But during the February deer season, our average buck will score 130-135 on B&C.
From the trail camera pictures we have, we know that the biggest bucks we have on our land right now will score more than 140 inches. Of course, those are the toughest bucks to take. That size buck is a trophy here where we hunt, and we’ll take one buck that size every 3-4 years. We don’t have the extremely fertile soil types and food availability that Alabama’s Black Belt area has, since our property is on the southwestern edge of the Black Belt.
One change that has taken place where we hunt due to the February deer rut is that many deer hunters in our area will slack off hunting deer during the December, get ready for Christmas and New Year and football games. Because of this change, there’s less hunting pressure in December, and the deer aren’t seeing as many hunters then or even in January. So, once the February deer rut happens, the hunters are back in the woods and ready to hunt deer, because they’ve eaten enough turkey, ham and fried chicken and too many desserts and are ready to start back hunting deer. Something else we’ve noticed is due to the deer hunting being so much better during February than it is in the early season in south Alabama, fewer hunters are going into the woods and fields to hunt deer when the weather’s hot, and the deer aren’t moving. Many hunters are waiting on that February deer season, realizing that their chances are much better for taking a big deer then.