Try hunting on a holiday for what could be your best chance at a successful hunt this season.
The holidays are typically marked by the three F’s – food, family, and fun – in a way so irresistible that it’s hardly surprising that many hunters choose to stay inside and enjoy a lazy day with their loved ones However, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day are more than just another vacation from work.
On the contrary, in the deer hunting world, Thanksgiving is one of the final days of the deer hunter’s so-called “peak of the rut.” This means that the best deer hunting days are just about done for the year. In other words, it’s a hunting day not to be missed, and since most hunters already have the day off from work, it’s a perfect opportunity to get one last shot at the big bucks.
As the Christmas and New Year’s holidays roll around, chances are the temperatures will be dropping and snow may likely be on the ground.
Quite simply, holiday hunting separates the men from the boys, both among human hunters and among bucks, toms and other prized game trophies. As the primary rut begins to wind down, smaller, younger bucks will mostly have lost their drive and will be tired out. The biggest, strongest bucks, on the other hand, will still be active in their breeding cycles, and will likely present themselves for a golden shot.
Of course, not all hunting seasons stretch into December 25 or January 1, so be sure to consult your local wildlife, game or natural resources department if you have any doubts about specific dates.
For hunters, the decision to hunt on a holiday is an indication that you are a die-hard. Fewer hunters will be in the woods than on the average weekend or weekday, meaning that the big bucks will be feeling less pressure than normal as well and will be easier to bring down as a result.
All of the above ingredients combine to make the holidays ideal for hunting. However, it’s easier said than done – especially if you have family visiting from out of town and have a number of family and household obligations throughout the day. From cleaning the house, preparing a big feast to spending time with your relatives to catching the big football game, holiday breaks can actually be pretty busy, and finding time to hunt – and doing it without offending your family – can be tough.
The best way to go is to head out on the hunt early in the morning. Hopefully feast preparations can be held off until late morning or early afternoon. With this in mind, tell your family that you will be on food prep or floor mopping duty in the afternoon but that you have a few things to attend to in the morning, then get out of bed early to make sure that you get a solid few hours to hunt your favorite property. Hunting a spot near your house is another good method that holiday hunters can use to maximize their hunting time. It is a balancing act, but if you do it right, you can get your hunting time and your family time in with room to spare.
Once you are out on the hunt, head to known food plots or to well traveled, deep cover areas. The big bucks will be looking for feeding opportunities, but may also be looking for secure spots where they can avoid the scourge of gun season. When in doubt, set up a treestand and start using glasses to search for bucks.
If you play your holiday hunting cards right, you can make it back in time to join in the festivities, and maybe even add to the feast with some freshly-harvested wild game.