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Deer hunting as the chilly season descends brings about its own unique set of challenges with food sources dwindling and deer behavior shifting from breeding back to feeding patterns. In this piece, we’ll delve deep into some late season deer hunting tips to increase your chances of success on a late season buck.
Understanding Late Season Deer Behavior
As a seasoned hunter, monitoring changes in deer behavior during the late season is of utmost importance. During this part of the season the rut is starting to slow down and deer are starting to transition back to their normal feeding patterns.
With the deer starting to make this transition back to feeding patterns it’s important for hunters to start to transition their hunting tactics and strategies.
Top 5 Late Season Deer Hunting Tips
The late season can be a difficult time to harvest a mature buck. This is primarily due to the deer being pressured by hunters for the last few months but with a little patience it can be one of the most opportunistic times of the season.
Find the Food
During the late season the deer are worn down from the rut and are on the hunt for optimal food sources to sustain them throughout the winter. In the colder parts of the late season, we tend to see most of the deer feeding in harvested crop fields (corn and soybeans) that still have a good amount of waste grain on the ground. If you are lucky enough to find a field that hasn’t been harvested yet you may have found the jackpot.
At first it may be difficult to find good food sources but once you learn what deer are feeding on in your area during this time of year the process will be much easier during later seasons. If you have the ability to plant food plots this can greatly reduce the amount of time to find the deer and increase the chances that you hold deer on your property during the winter months.
Food plots of soybeans, corn, and turnips have worked great for us over the years and help us keep our target bucks on our property.
Utilize Cell Cameras and Observation Sits
After you find good food sources that the deer are using you will want to observe each to see if a mature buck is using it. This is when cellular trail cameras and observation sits come into play.
I prefer to use cell cameras because you don’t have to walk into your hunting property to check them. By having the photos sent directly to your phone you are reducing the amount of human pressure on the area. These cameras also have the benefit of providing you with the most up to date information.
Observation sits are also great for scouting a food source for a buck you want to harvest. If a good buck is using the food source by observing from a distance you can gain valuable information like when and where the buck is entering the field along with how he is moving through the field once he gets there.
The information that you can gather through cell cameras and observation sits will help you in creating a game plan for where you should set up and how to access that location to minimize the risk of spooking the deer.
Be Patient and Stay Mobile
Okay, so you have narrowed down a food source that has a good buck using it. Our next tip is to be patient and stay mobile. Patience is key during the late season. If you have a buck that is using a food source often you will notice that where and when he enters the field could vary based on the wind. Mature bucks will use the wind to their advantage to avoid danger. Practice patience and make your move to hunt when you have as many factors in your favor as possible.
Staying mobile is also important. I prefer to use a lightweight hand on tree stand and climbing sticks made by Lone Wolf when mobile hunting. Using this mobile setup allows me to sneak in, quietly hang my stand and hunt, then quietly take my stand down after the hunt. Using this hunting strategy allows you to move around based on changing wind directions, patterns, and food sources.
Watch the Weather
Let’s say that you have found a mature buck using a food source but your trail camera and observation sits show that the but is only showing up right after dark or without enough light to make an ethical shot. This is where paying close attention to the weather comes in.
In this type of situation look for changes in the weather that could cause deer to be on their feet and moving earlier in the evening. When late season hunting, I have found that if I can time the weather just right when the barometer is dropping as a cold front or storm approaches, deer tend to be on their feet and moving towards feeding areas earlier. This is due to the deer wanting to feed before the weather front moves in.
When hunting this type of weather, you can expect deer to be moving well before dark.
The last of our tips for the late season is making sure you are wearing the proper attire for the specific weather conditions. Late season hunting can be extremely cold in many parts of the U.S. and there is nothing worse than being freezing cold while in the stand. Make sure you are wearing quality base layers that will help wick any moisture away from your body with a warm outer layer to ensure you stay warm during your hunt.
At the end of the day, late-season deer hunting can be a great time to harvest a buck of a lifetime. We hope that by using the tips and strategies outlined in this post you are able to find success while hunting during the late season.