It’s late October in the Palmetto State, and the next few weeks are prime time for the avid deer hunter.
True fall conditions have arrived, with cool, crisp nights followed by pleasant days with low humidity, also known as perfect hunting conditions. In the woods, the peak of the rut has arrived and the hunter’s target – mature bucks with big racks – are less wary than any other time of the calendar year.
Regardless of weather conditions, the peak of the rut for South Carolina’s white-tailed deer comes during the same five-plus week period each fall, according to Charles Ruth, Deer/Turkey Program coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
“You take the time period from Oct. 6 to Nov. 15, somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 percent of the doe deer we’ve [studied] actually conceive during that period,” Ruth said earlier this week. “If hunters want to talk about the peak of the rut, during the last week in October and the first week in November, the highest percent of females are conceived.”
Cooler temperatures don’t jump-start the rut, deer are simply more likely to be seen during the rut in daylight hours when it’s cooler.
“Hunters have this notion that cold weather makes them breed. As far as temperatures, that’s not going to affect when [the does] come into heat,” said Ruth. “Deer are going to do their breeding during that time period. This time of year, you’ve got this night-time breeding activity that carries into the morning. When we have cooler-than-seasonal temperatures, that horseplay going on at night carries over into the day. If it’s warmer than normal, they are not as active during the day.”
Ruth, an avid deer hunter himself, notes that daybreak and in the very early morning hours is the time to catch that big buck off guard when he has other things on his mind.
“Outside of the rut, morning [hunting] is not that good,” said Ruth. “But this time of year, I’m going in the morning. If we’ve got good conditions, you need to be in the deer stand in the morning. After the rut, it goes back to the afternoon being dominant.”
With seasonal weather, and even a little cooler than normal, currently at hand, the time is now to get out in the woods.
“The next three to four weeks, it’s on,” said Ruth. “If hunters can break away from their commitments, it’s time to go. If you go back two weekends ago, the first complete weekend in October, we had temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s and that was probably not a good thing. It’s been more seasonal the last 10 days. That’s comfortable. It feels good from a hunter standpoint, and it feels good for the deer. They already have their winter coats on. The next three to four weeks are the time and if we can get a little weather to cooperate, that’s even better.”
Red Drum Stocking
The public is invited to join S.C. DNR staff as hatchery-produced red drum are stocked into Winyah Bay.
The stocking will take place at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 from the East Bay Street Boat Landing in Georgetown.
DNR staff will be available to answer questions about red drum stocking research and provide a demonstration of the loading, launching and releasing of hatchery red drum by boat. Contact Dr. Tanya Darden at (843) 513-6868 for additional details.
Red drum will also be released in Port Royal Sound near Beaufort at noon on Oct. 28 from the Edgar C. Glenn boat landing on state road 170 at the Lemon Island Bridge.
Fish stocked by S.C. DNR provide valuable insight on the condition of the state’s fisheries while supplementing anglers’ creel. Learn more about the marine stocking program at www.dnr.sc.gov:4443/marine/stocking/index.html.
Prince George Winyah Tournament
The 2014 Prince George Winyah Fishers of Men Inshore Fishing Tournament will be held Nov. 8 out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Captains meeting will be held on Nov. 7, 6 p.m., at The Boat Shed in Georgetown.
For more information, call 843-546-1776.
The Winyah Rivers Foundation invites the public to attend the organization’s annual fundraiser Sunday on the banks of the Waccamaw River in Conway.
The River Celebration benefits for the Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER Program and provides operating support for its education and advocacy programs to protect fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for our families and for our future.
The event will be held Sunday from 5-9 p.m. at the Riverside Club, located at 1793 Riverside Drive.
The celebration includes boat rides by Captain Jim’s River Memories, live music by The Steady Hand String Band and other acoustic performers. Hors d’oeuvres provided by Dilly Beans and Jon the Potato Man, accompanied by a selection of beer and wine.
There will be a silent and live auction with Auctioneer Teddy Henry.
Tickets are $30 for program members, $35 for non-members and $20 for students.