When is the peak of the rut in the Carolinas? It’s complicated

Conventional wisdom aside, when a dominant buck corrals an estrous doe, he quits chasing for several days. That’s why wall-hanger bucks may disappear during the peak of the rut, making a hunter’s best-laid plans often go awry.

Then again, understanding the rut is crucial in deciding where to place a stand.

“Breeding activity studies chart the rut as a bell curve,” said Scott Osborne, former deer biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “Some mating activity starts in August and can go into December.”


Charles Ruth, South Carolina’s deer-project leader, agreed.

Randy Potts arrowed this 147-inch Anson County 8-pointer from a stand triangulated between three food sources.

“Historic reproductive data collected … indicates approximately 83 percent of females are bred Oct. 6 to Nov. 15” he said. “The majority of bucks (74 percent) entered into our records program are taken during October and November.”

In 39 of the Palmetto State’s 46 central counties, SCDNR studies show Oct. 5-Nov. 15 rut dates. They’re sandwiched by two small regions with different dates: the eastern halves of coastal counties Charleston, Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper (Oct. 1-Nov. 1) and western halves of four Upstate counties, Spartanburg, Pickens, Greenville and Oconee (Nov. 15-Dec. 15).

Deer mating days vary more widely in North Carolina. The average peak rut is Nov. 1 in the Commission’s Southeastern region (the earliest Oct. 3 in Hyde County and the latest Nov. 15 at Sampson) while in the Northeastern region it’s Nov. 9. In the Central region, it’s Nov. 19, Nov. 28 in the Northwestern corner and Dec. 2 at the Western region.

But in both states, seeing does, food sources, trails and buck sign should determine pre-rut stand sights.

About Craig Holt 1382 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply