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Timely Reports From The Alabama Deer Woods
Lots of food in the woods with some early rut sign. Fixing to get good for some.
By Brad Gill
Posted Monday November 27 2017, 11:09 AM
Troy Decilles, of Ohatchee, killed this buck on Choccolocco WMA.
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With the youth opener and primitive weapons week in the books, all focus is on rifle season. Word is that plenty of food is still available for the deer, although the acorns are not far from being gone. This will mean deer will start spending more time on green fields.

Most of the youth hunters we heard from were successful. In fact, with six youth Truck-Buck entries over the weekend, we’re already above the 11-year historical average, and there’s still seven business days for us to hear from those hunters.

If you haven’t had a chance to get into the woods just yet, let our Hunt Advisors give you a head start on what you can expect. With their scouting and knowledge, you can be a little more prepared when you hit the woods. Many of them offer their gun-season tips as an added bonus to you.

Their timely reports are as follows:

Bibb/Hale/Perry/Tuscaloosa Co.: Oakmulgee WMA hunter Michael Perry reports, “As December rolls around, the bucks on Oakmulgee WMA will start to change gears. Any available time you have will be very well spent if you can hunt there during this month. Find where the ladies are hanging out, and you will be ahead of the game. They will already have been pressured a little, so concentrate around thicker woods, cutovers or swamps. I look for the freshest tracks I can find that appear to be traveling in both directions. This tells me they feel safe enough there to use the area as a main travel corridor. Set up toward the thicker edge that gives you the best wind, and hang in there. Use drag rags, estrus scents, can calls and grunt tubes if you like. The use of them definitely increases your odds.

“Dec. 13-17 are the dates of the second Oakmulgee primitive-weapons hunt, and I feel like this could be the best opportunity for a trophy buck. As a matter of fact, Kathy and I will be camping at Payne during this time. Even though we are camping there, most of our time will be spent in the woods. The next couple of gun hunts will be great, too! Things should slow down after the first of January.

“If I had to choose one WMA that I would hunt in December, it would without a doubt be Oakmulgee.”

Blount/Cullman Co.: Nate Ayers reports, “The past few days of warmer weather have really helped get deer on their feet during the daytime hours. In our area, there is still a lot of acorns on the ground, but they will not last for much longer, and deer will shift to alternate food sources. Green fields and picked crop fields will then play an even bigger role than they do now. I do not expect to see any rut action until late December when most of our deer will begin pre-rut. Some of the most western parts of my area will have an early rut in December, but most will not have that luxury. Be sure to keep an eye on the moon phase and the wind when planning your early season hunt, as both play large roles when it comes to success in the stand. Always remember safety first, so wear your safety harness.”

Cleburne Co.: Troy Decilles, of Ohatchee, hunts Choccolocco WMA and reports, “I did a little scouting and started finding rubs and scrapes near some acorn trees in the bowhunting-only area. I found an area, and I have seen deer every time I’ve gone this year. I saw four does the first time, and the second time I went I saw a little 5-point. I finally got a chance at a good buck the third time I went this year. It was a 7-point that had a brow tine broken off. I only bowhunt, and it was my biggest buck ever. I’ve seen a few bigger deer there through the years but couldn’t get a shot. It’s the closest public land to where I live, and it’s a really good spot. Once the gun season starts, I almost never see another hunter in the bowhunting-only section.”

Dale Co.: Bernett Jergenson reports, “Here in Dale County, the hunting is about to get interesting. There has been a new system for hunting on Fort Rucker put in place to sign in and out for hunting. The telephone number for the outdoor office is (334) 255-4305. They will assist you in the permit process to hunt or fish on Fort Rucker.

“With the cooler weather finally getting into this area, the food plots are now starting to grow. As my food plots are now getting green, finally the deer are starting to visit my sawtooth trees and the food plots. My cameras are showing a good increase of does and fawns, and with new regulations, the deer herd is really starting to show the results of the no-doe regulation that Fort Rucker and other landowners have in place in this area.

“Now if we could get the coyote and pig problem under control, hopefully we will be back to 1980s deer herd population levels. I am still not hunting deer in this area, as I find the pigs make hunting fun again. Mr. Auchman is a very skilled pig hunter on the area. He has harvested more than 40 hogs so far this year.”

Dallas Co.: Anthony Crowe reports, “Deer movement has been very slow during the daylight hours. Even with the very light hunting pressure, we are not seeing many deer while hunting. The game cameras show another story completely, as the deer are feeding on acorns and the green fields almost nonstop all night. I am seeing and hearing plenty of reports from other hunters that there is plenty of red oak, water oak and swamp chestnut oak acorns dropping and on the ground. Folks are seeing deer feeding if you can find their favorite acorn trees.

“December is traditionally a very slow month for us, and I haven’t seen anything to date that would make me think this December will be any different. The scrapes I found that were being worked earlier in October have gone cold. With gun season just around the corner, I expect to start seeing a little more action as we get closer to January.

“Hoping everyone has a great December, and remember if you are using a climber, always wear your safety harness.”

James Lawler, of Camden, has the “Getting Outdoors with Big Daddy Lawler” radio show, and he keeps tabs on deer hunting in a multi-county area in that region.

“You here all that coyote talk, but I’ve seen more fawns than I have ever seen this year. If the youth hunts are any indication, there is going to be some big bucks killed this year in Dallas, Wilcox, Monroe and Marengo counties.”

Dallas/Marengo Co.: Robert Almon, of Tuscaloosa, reports, “We’re seeing a lot of deer movement, and the antlers are really good this year.

“The acorn crop is incredible. We don’t really start hunting until the gun season, so we don’t really know if we’ll still be seeing deer moving like that once people really start getting in the woods.

“I’ve seen years like this when there are so many acorns and a good, wet summer puts a lot of browse in the woods. Once the hunting gets going good, the deer don’t show themselves. The green fields will be knee high.”

Lawrence/Winston Co.: Black Warrior WMA hunter Michael Perry reports, “Slow, slow, slow! That pretty much sums up the early season at Black Warrior. Plenty of acorns and warmer weather appears to be the main contributing factors among hunters for the minimal activity. Bowhunters have had little success so far, and there were only seven bucks harvested on the special-opportunity hunt Nov. 10-11, even with around 500 permits issued.

“The good news is that it will get better. By the time you read this, the primitive-weapons hunts will be in the books and maybe the opening gun hunt. I am pretty positive the action will have picked up by then and will carry over into the middle of December. I really like the Dec. 1-3 side B hunt. Over the years that I have spent hunting there, I have seen more chasing during this particular hunt. As a matter of fact, I took my biggest buck on Dec. 2, and he was trailing does.

“As I have said before, I like hunting the pinch-points with different timber or edges coming together. Also, creek crossings that access multiple ridges or fingers coming together are good. Fresh and big tracks present help me to know which ones to hunt.

“I will use misting estrus and buck scents throughout the day to help entice a bruiser buck. Can calls and grunt tubes will be with me, also. Hunt hard and long during this period to increase your chances. You can rest and fish in February. Good luck!”

Randolph Co.: Joe Wilkerson reports, “Deer are coming to green patches late in the afternoons at last shooting light and also during the late morning up until lunch time. I’m seeing some young deer crossing the roads late in the mornings. This may mean they are separating from their mothers.

“I’m seeing some early scrape activity close to green fields. There’s still plenty of acorns on the ground, and the older bucks are taking advantage of these and staying in the thick cover. You probably need to find acorns close to the thick cover to have more success. This will change as the rut picks up. A small area in extreme east Randolph has an early rut.

“I am already hearing of accidents happening for falls from tree stands. Be careful, and use a safety harness.”

St. Clair Co.: Steve Sparks, of Pell City, with the Majestic Outdoors hunting club, reports, “The deer here have been moving all day long. We had a youth hunt here, and I don’t know if it was all the human scent in the woods or what, but we took the kids out of the woods at 11, and they were still killing deer on food plots at 10:45. We went back after lunch, and one girl got in the stand at 3:40, and she killed a 7-point at 3:50. The kids killed 22 deer in two days.”

Sumter Co.: Chad McKnight reports, “Cooler temps, acorns raining, and food plots look great, not to mention fall colors and several clear, blue-sky days. What else could we ask for? Well, freezer meat would be one, and our kids delivered once again.

“All youths hunters scored by killing two 8-points and three does. We are off to a better-than-average season so far. One common observation has been that more often than not, the adult does have either one or two fawns with them, which would suggest our fawn mortality rate is down this season. That’s good news for future years.

“December usually starts with a two-week lull before things start picking up for the rut after Christmas. Hopefully this season it stays steady until then. Right now you almost can’t miss on deer sightings either over acorns or on the food plots. Get out there, and enjoy it while it lasts.”

Tuscaloosa/Pickens Co.:
Dan Moore reports, “Four youth hunted at my club in Pickens County over the weekend, and all four had shots at deer, with three deer being recovered. One was a  nice 6-point buck shot in a clearcut.

“Deer have an abundance of food at this time. White oak, red oak, swamp chestnut and water oak acorns are still falling, and the food plots looks great. The cooler weather over the last few days has the deer moving all day long, and bucks have begun to make scrapes. Bucks are beginning to break up from their bachelor groups, and I have seen and heard a little sparing activity. Rutting activity with bucks chasing does typically occurs just before Christmas Day, and I expect that to be the case also this year.

“Rifle hunting over clearcuts or powerline rights of ways should be considered. Bowhunters should be able to locate an oak tree that is still dropping acorns or hunt a food plot that is being used by deer.”

Walker Co.: Derrick Moore, of Dora, reports, “There have been a lot of acorns this year, but they are about all gone now. The deer have eaten them up. This buck I had been seeing on my game camera disappeared for a month after the acorns were gone. I was scouting, and I found two white oak acorn trees that for some reason hadn’t dropped their acorns and were just starting. I set up a lock-on stand in the area, and the deer started coming to the acorns. My girlfriend set up in some pines leading to area where the acorns were falling, and she missed a couple of deer. I saw a lot of does and a few small bucks in the area, so I decided to take a doe for some meat. About 4:30 p.m., while waiting for a doe, a spike and the 7-point I had been seeing on my game camera a month before came back. I got him.”

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