Achieve a golden hunt in the waning days of the season.
For most hunters, the late season is a time to either hit the field and try every last resort strategy known to man or a time to kick off the boots and call it a year. Once the rut is over, hunting days become less compulsory – especially in areas where the season stretches on for an especially lengthy period of time. Heavy winter regions, where late season hunts become a matter of difficult accessibility and mobility, lessen the appeal of late season hunting even further.
However, if you are planning on getting your winter hunt on, then there are a few benchmarks you can use to judge which days are golden opportunities and which would be better spent inside. We’ve collected a few of our most notable checklist items below, but feel free to share a few of your own in the comments section in case you think we missed any.
Hunting high-pressure heavy traffic public land can be fine early on in the hunting season or throughout most of the rut, but by the time the late season comes around, you are going to need to find a place with a little less pressure. This is the time of the season when having a friend with a few private acres can really make a difference. So get your ducks in a row when it comes to private property hunting permissions, and then try to steer clear of that land until the late season. The lower the pressure, the better your chances are of seeing a mature buck out and about during daylight hours. You can try late season hunts elsewhere, but in most places, after months of hunting, your whitetail prey will know that a nocturnal lifestyle is the safest way to go.
The Food Source
A property with low pressure isn’t quite good enough to bring all of the bucks in a 50-mile radius running. You are also going to need a good food source that can bring the bucks where you want them to be while you are hunting the land. If you are hunting on someone else’s land, see if they wouldn’t mind you putting down two or three food plots at different spots around the property. Bucks in the late season are hungry from the hard work of the rut, so your best shot at bagging one is going to come at a feeding spot.
Once you have one or two low-pressure properties on which you are allowed to hunt, and once you’ve made sure that those properties have a handful of viable food sources for drawing the bucks out, you have essentially laid the groundwork for a successful late season hunt. All you need to complete the trinity and find success is the right weather. Your instinct may be to stay inside on the cold, snowy days, but this would be a mistake. Cold temperatures and fresh layers of snow will get bucks moving around in the daylight hours more than they would otherwise, and may even keep them out through the morning and into the early afternoon. Make sure you’re out there to catch them in the act.