The rut in Alabama spans from mid-November into February, depending on what part of the state you’re hunting. That means with a little travel, you can enjoy nearly three months of rut hunting action during Alabama’s deer season!
The large variation in the state’s deer breeding dates is attributed to restocking efforts early in the 20th century. By bringing in deer from different parts of the country, it created a hodgepodge of breeding genetics that created very distinct pockets of rut timing that continue today.
To give you an idea of the 2023 rut dates, I’ve included an map below that breaks the peak of breeding into roughly two week intervals. It also covers key rut timing on the state’s WMAs and SOAs.
2023-2024 Alabama Rut Map
The Alabama rut map was produced by Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries staff under the direction of Deer Program Coordinator Chris Cook and Assistant Wildlife Chief Amy Silvano and is based on historic stocking information, the annual herd health assessment and deer fetal collections.
Keep in mind, these are just guidelines for the Alabama rut dates. There will always be does that come into estrus early or late, which can result in a flurry of buck activity outside of these “typical” rut dates. More on that below.
Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)
|WMA||Peak Rut Dates|
|Black Warrior||Nov. 24 – Dec. 8|
|Blue Spring||Jan. 9-24|
|Boggy Hollow||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Charles D. Kelley/|
Autauga Community Hunting Area
|Choccolocco||Nov. 24 – Dec. 8|
|Crow Creek||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Crow Creek Refuge Area||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|David K. Nelson||Jan. 9-24|
|Gothard-AWF Yates Lake||Jan. 9-24|
|Freedom Hills||Jan. 9-24|
|Geneva State Forest||Jan. 9-24|
|Grand Bay Savanna||Jan. 9-24|
|James D. Martin-Skyline||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Lauderdale||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Little River||Dec. 9-24|
|Mallard-Fox Creek||Dec. 9-24|
|Martin Community Hunting Area||Jan. 9-24|
|Mobile-Tensaw Delta &|
|Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Mud Creek||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Mulberry Fork||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|North Sauty Refuge Area||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Perdido||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Raccoon Creek||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Red Hills||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Sam R. Murphy||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Seven Mile Island||Jan. 9-24|
|Swan Creek||Dec. 9-24|
|Upper Delta||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|William R. Ireland, Sr.-|
Special Opportunity Areas (SOAs)
|SOA||Peak Rut Dates|
|Blackwater SOA||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Cedar Creek SOA||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Choctaw NWR||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Crow Creek SOA||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Frank Jackson State Park||Jan. 9-24|
|Fred T. Simpson SOA||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Little River State Forest||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Oak Mountain State Park||Dec. 25 – Jan. 24|
|Portland Landing SOA||Jan. 9-24|
|Prarie Glades SOA||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
|Thigpen Hill SOA||Jan. 9-24|
|Uchee Creek SOA||Dec. 25 – Jan. 8|
|Upper State SOA||Jan. 25 – Feb. 8|
What About Weather or the Moon Phase?
You may wonder how we know that these dates will apply to this deer season. We know because the whitetail rut occurs the same time every year for any given location. It doesn’t change based on weather factors, moon phase, or anything else. That has been documented in study after study over the years.
What can change from year to year is how much rutting activity you witness where you hunt. Keep in mind that while the dates listed on this page are peak rut activity, there are always outliers that fall outside of that peak. Some does may come into estrus a little earlier and some will come in later.
When you see rutting activity where you hunt will be determined by the timing of does coming into estrus in that specific area. And since there appears to be a genetic aspect to a doe’s estrus timing, you may see that pattern repeated year after year. If the rut dates listed above don’t correlate with when you typically see rut activity, it’s probably because you have a doe or two that are going into estrus outside of the typical date range.
How to Hunt the Alabama Rut
In my mind, there are two keys to taking advantage of the whitetail rut. The first one is to spend as much time in the stand as possible during the peak dates. Bucks are on the feet and moving more than ever during this time, so you never know when a great buck you’ve never seen before may walk into your shooting lane.
The second key is knowing where the does are and using that information when developing a strategy to catch a cruising buck looking for a receptive doe. If you can find some type of funnel on the downwind side of a doe bedding area, then it’s only a matter of time before you get a shot opportunity.
There’s no better time to be in a treestand (or hunting saddle) than during the rut, and we have nearly three months to chase it here in Alabama. I hope you’re taking advantage of that opportunity! Hopefully the Alabama rut map above will help you schedule your hunts this year so you can extend the rut-hunting action.
If you disagree with any of the dates listed in this article, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know what county you hunt, and what dates you think best fit the county based on your observations.