Mississippi pre-rut is here

J.D. Harvey recently harvested his biggest buck to date while hunting fresh sign with his dad, Jason. The buck is a 10-point Jefferson Davis county bruiser with a 14 ½ inch inside spread and weighed 180 pounds.
J.D. Harvey recently harvested his biggest buck to date while hunting fresh sign with his dad, Jason. The buck is a 10-point Jefferson Davis county bruiser with a 14 ½ inch inside spread and weighed 180 pounds.

Buck activity on the increase

The rut is right around the corner for Mississippi whitetail deer hunters — the most anticipated time for hunters to get the chance at bagging the biggest bucks. Buck activity is starting to increase. The sign is showing up everywhere. Several good bucks have already been harvested across the state. The pre-rut is happening now.

What is pre-rut?

It’s that time of year when the first does are just about to come into season and the bucks can sense it. This kicks off high testosterone levels in bucks which gets them going; they’re fighting each other and establishing territory. They’ll claim a territory so they can have all the does in that area. This is when bucks are rubbing and scraping, and they are searching for that first doe to come into season. The more mature bucks are trying to push all the younger bucks out of their area, and they are not locked down with a doe.

On a good day, you may catch a mature buck venturing out to mix it up with a group of does.
On a good day, you may catch a mature buck venturing out to mix it up with a group of does.

What’s happening now

Magnolia state hunters have seen a significant change in bucks’ fall patterns. Bachelor groups of mature bucks have busted up and they have become loners. The older ones are establishing their territory for breeding rights. Needing the carbs and fat build-up for the approaching rut, bucks are still feeding heavily on acorns, crops, or browse but they are on their feet just a little more and venturing out from core areas.

Read the sign

Scrapes are starting to appear in old logging trails, ridges, edges of fields, and travel routes—they’re working them too.
Scrapes are starting to appear in old logging trails, ridges, edges of fields, and travel routes — they’re working them too.

Fresh rubs are being found near thickets, in hardwoods, and the places in between. Scrapes are starting to appear in old logging trails, ridges, edges of fields, and travel routes between bedding and feeding areas—they’re working them too.

It’s just the beginnings of it all though, if you haven’t been in the woods yet, you haven’t missed it — but it is time to get ready and get out there in pursuit.

“The main pre-rut activity we’ve seen is the little spikes and four points are starting to harass the does,” says Jefferson Davis and Covington counties hunter Jason Harvey. “Light scraping is going on and the mature bucks are just starting to bust up from bachelor groups.”

Bucks are rubbing trees marking their territories.
Bucks are rubbing trees marking their territories.

Watch the weather

Hunters should be aware of approaching cold fronts during the pre-rut period. When colder temps arrive, the bucks will be more active. Younger bucks may still be in groups and be with does. On a good day, you may catch a mature buck coming in to mix it up with a group of deer.

“I am looking for bucks on their feet,” says Hinds County hunter Austin Berry. “Pre-rut is my favorite time of the year to hunt. This is when I see bigger bucks rambling around.”

Make a call

Pre-rut is absolutely the best time for hunters to get a buck to come in to a call. They’re more responsive this time of year than any other. Good calls to try now are the estrus bleat (can call), rattling, and the snort wheeze — especially if you see a buck moving away from you.

It’s an awesome to time to be out there. Remember all those big bucks you have on trail camera pictures from early season? Now is your best chance at seeing them.

Andy Douglas
About Andy Douglas 18 Articles
Andy Douglas is an outdoor writer and photographer from Brookhaven. A native of Lincoln County, he’s chased deer, turkeys, bass and most anything else the past 35 years. He lives the outdoor lifestyle and is passionate about sharing that with others through stories and photos.

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