Finishing Strong: Hunting the Late Rut in Alabama
Backwoods Life 02.02.12
As many hunters are putting their bows and rifles up for the season, in the great state of Alabama the peak of the rut is kicking into full gear. One of my favorite things to look forward to after Christmas is hunting in ol’ Bama. In the “black belt” region of the state the rut usually starts kicking off around Christmas with its peak around mid-January. This is perfect for those of you that need to put some late season back strap in the freezer and maybe even a trophy on the wall.
My good friend Jeremy Johnson invited me to hunt his family farm for the first time this past January. The track record on his property has got to be one of the best in the area, if not the state. Over the years I have seen countless videos from Jeremy on this property with some really nice bucks hitting the dirt. To say I was excited about the hunt was an understatement!
The first morning, cameraman Fred Branch and I met Jeremy, his better half Elizabeth, and good friend Justin Moore on the way to the property. The weather was a frosty 22 degrees with high humidity so we were bundled up big time! The morning was slow, only seeing a small buck. Justin did arrow a nice doe for the freezer though, while Jeremy and Elizabeth saw a few bucks but didn’t get a shot. We decided to grab a bite to eat then head back into the woods early in the afternoon and sit until dark.
Settling back in shortly after 1pm that afternoon, we saw deer right away. A young buck ran two does in front of us and out of sight. On and off we saw several deer until dark but no shooter bucks in range. Not a bad day of hunting at all and we were ready for the next morning.
Up and at it, we repeated the previous morning’s routing and were in the stand just as the day began to wake up. This time we were deep in a creek bottom just off of an old cut-over. The palmettos were thick and seeing 100 yards was difficult in most directions. About an hour after daylight, I look in front of us and catch movement, it’s antlers! A tall, heavy, shooter buck is coming straight to us! The buck turns and starts working a scrape as I try to find him in my Hawke scope. The brush is just too thick to get on him. He then begins walking from our right to left angling away. Looking ahead the only shot I am going to have is when he steps into a narrow road in front of us. I ready myself as the buck walks right into my scope and stops! Boom! My twelve gauge slug drops him in his tracks! He’s done right there!
Climbing down I knew that he was a good buck, but after putting my hands on him this deer had some of the heaviest beams and mass of any I had been fortunate enough to tag. The buck was a main frame eight point with two kickers on one base, giving him ten points over an inch long, 13 inch inside spread, and scored just over 130 inches B&C. I’ll take a buck like this all day long y’all! Not to mention he was at least 4.5 or 5.5 years old, a true trophy buck to me.
I would like to thank Jeremy for opening up his home farm and inviting us to come over and hunt. It was truly a great place to see and the amount of game on the place is remarkable. Just as Genesis 27:3 states “Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me,” we are blessed to spend time in the outdoors to see what has been created for us to have dominion over and as stewards of the land, we must open our arms and continue to pass on our God-given right to hunt.
God bless and good hunting!
Michael’s Gear List:
- Optics: Hawke Eclipse 30 SF 6-24x50mm, Hawke Frontier ED 43mm
- Gun: Remington 1100 12 gauge
- Ammo: Winchester Sabot Slug 375 grain
- Stand: Ol’ Man Ladder
- Safety Vest: Hunter Safety System Reversible
- Scent Eliminator: Lethal Field Spray
- Camo: Realtree APG by Gamehide
- Pack: Gameplan Gear Spot N Stalk
- Boots: Lacrosse Alpha Burly in Realtree APG
- Conditioning: Hunt Strong