Gulf Coast Whitetail O.v.osceola, O.v.mcilhennyi
Two subspecies of Whitetails comprise the Gulf Coast area of Whitetail SLAM. O.v.osceola, commonly called “the Florida coastal white-tailed deer” and secondly, O.v.mcilhennyi, “the Avery Island (Louisiana) whitetail”. Plentiful populations, late season rut timing, the tradition and culture of the Deep-South, and abundant well managed lands equal and an adventure that will surely please any hunter’s quest for something new!
These deer thrive from the Panhandle of Florida into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to the coastal regions of Texas.
In general, with the exception of more fertile Delta areas, Gulf Coast deer are smaller in body size than inland deer populations. This may be in part due to poor soil fertility along much of the gulf coast. Here, mature bucks range from 130 to 170 lbs. live body weight. Despite smaller body size, some of these animals can still sport very impressive antlers. They have short pelage, which in the winter may take on a “grizzled” appearance. Habitat and environmental differences cause these wide variations in body size and rut timing across NOT ONLY the broad gulf region, but on a micro level in areas relatively close in proximity.
The rich and fertile pine-saw palmetto Flatwoods, sand pine-scrub oak, live oak hammocks, salt marshes, sandy beaches and swamps along the gulf provide ample cover and food. The variety of habitat in these flatlands and dense swamps is extremely diverse on a micro level and deer flourish here and provide a tremendous resource for hunters. A trip out of the cold northern woods will enable you to see why so many deer hunters believe that some of the best deer hunting in the world is along the Gulf Coast.
Hunters can pursue the Florida Whitetails in South Florida and catch the peak rut in August in some counties, then in other parts of the state through October or November, and in the Panhandle with peak rut in February. Or they can take a short ride to Alabama or Mississippi and catch the January Rut. Whitetail “SLAMMERS” can hunt this area strategically to ensure they catch peak rut at a time of year that does not cause them to miss a day of the rut in their home state, regardless of where they reside!
Louisiana is truly a sportsman’s paradise, and deer hunters take 150,000 whitetails annually. At the southern end of Americas largest swamp lies Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area, 137,695 acres of emergent marsh and shallow mud flats, one of the best public deer hunting areas in south Louisiana for those deer hunters brave enough to tackle it. It is an opportunity to hunt deer in a truly wild setting. Each year hunters harvest bucks weighing nearly 200 lbs. and sporting impressive antlers.
Perhaps the most striking differences among these deer across these states coastal areas are the variations in rut timing which ultimately result in amazing opportunity for hunters to capitalize on peak ruts while only traveling short distances.
1. The osceola subspecies in the Florida panhandle breeds in February and March with a peak of February 21st.
2. The osceola subspecies in coastal Alabama breeds from late December through February with a peak between January 18 and 23.
3. In coastal Mississippi the mcilhennyi subspecies breeds from January 16th to February 6th with a peak date of January 24th.
4. The peak of “mcilhennyi” breeding in coastal Louisiana is December 14-29
5. Texas had two study areas in their Gulf Prairie and Marshes Ecological Region. In the northern part the peak of breeding was September 30th. In the southern part of the region the peak was October 31st (a month later).