Still looking to fill a tag with time running out? Here’s how to score big during crunch time.
You’ve hunted hard all year long. You’re tired and worn out. It’s cold and snowy outside, and just doesn’t look all that fun.
If you still have to fill a tag, and know of a good buck to go after, late season hunting can produce some of the best hunting of the year. Here is how you can make it happen before time runs out.
1. Hunt the Weather
Newsflash: the more it looks like it will be miserable to hunt, the better the hunting will be. If you’ve got any type of cold snap coming your way, or snow storm, use that to your advantage. Harsh weather gets deer up on their feet during daylight, especially during late season. If you can withstand the elements, odds are you’ll have some good hunting.
2. Find the Food
A critical part to late season is something you’ve probably already heard a million times, but it’s for good reason. After the rut, bucks are worn down, and need to get their weight back up for the winter. They will do anything to seek out the best food source, and that’s where you should be waiting.
If you live in an agricultural area, scour everywhere you can, looking for standing crops if you don’t already have some.
I recently was able to do this where I hunt, and I found a standing cornfield that a farmer never got to. There was ample deer sign in and around the cornfield, and I was able to secure permission to hunt it. The first night I hunted a cold snap, saw seventy deer, and tagged a mature buck. Moral of the story is find the food, and you’ll find the bucks.
3. Still Hunt Thick Cover
The last resort is to find where deer are bedding, and go in after them. In order to do this successfully, you have to be careful beyond all measures.
If you are going to attempt this in the snow, I recommend using white camouflage. Find the trails leading out of the bedding area, and tip toe your way in. If you spot a deer, you might want to consider holing up on the ground, especially if it looks like a good area.
I attempted this very method on the last day of archery season back in 2014, and almost had it pay off. I threw on my white camo, and set off into a known bedding area. Over the course of two hours, I had walked only about a hundred yards into the bedding area, as I was being as slow and stealthy as possible. I caught movement up ahead of me, and slowly got behind a fallen log.
With only about an hour left in daylight, these two deer worked their way towards me at an unbelievably slow rate. Once they got within fifty yards, I could tell the second deer was a shooter buck. They finally made their way to me with only minutes left in the season, and I was able to get a shot off. To my dismay, I hit a sapling that was covering the bucks vitals. But, it proved to me that the tactic can work. As long as you hunt very slowly, it can be a lethal way to capitalize when you’re almost out of time.
What it comes down to is perseverance. If you can stand the nasty weather, and have the drive to get out there after hunting all season, the late season is a great time to put down a big mature buck.