Find Your Late-Season Blacktail by Following These Simple Tips
So, you haven’t filled your blacktail tag yet? Don’t panic. You are most definitely not alone. At this point in the game, many of us still haven’t.
However, being persistent paying close attention to the weather and rut activity can help improve all of our odds during these last few weeks. November annually marks some of the best blacktail hunting of the entire season. Needless to say, it is very likely that some excellent hunting might be right in your backyard, or no more than a couple hours away.
On overcast, rainy and or stormy days, I like to search for deer in the timber or under canopies of older growth, vine maple and re-prod forests. I’m not saying they won’t be in the clear cuts, but I have found more deer in locations with cover during these periods. Drastic changes in barometric pressure will get the deer moving no matter your location.
During drier conditions or foggy weather, blacktails will be more likely to venture into meadows, field edges and clear cuts, especially during the early mornings and right before dusk. However, they will also still travel regularly through trails in timber or secondary growth.
On the few occasions when it may be sunny, I have seen many deer bedded in thicker cover near the edges or on benches in and around clearings and logged cuts.
Blacktails near agricultural land will feed into fields around dusk and spend good portions of the night breeding and moving between wooded patches. Cold weather will urge deer to feed earlier and more frequently during daylight hours. Concentrate on areas with good food sources and feed with higher sugar contents.
Freshly sprouted fall vegetation will have excellent nutrition that deer will seek out during cold weather. Many of these locations can be found where ample sunlight is able to reach the forest floor.
Time is of The Essence:
Of course, the best thing is to be in the woods frequently during late October and early November. Trail cameras can also show increased movement when you aren’t able to physically be in your hunting area. You can check for peak deer movement by comparing the numbers of deer you see at various times. Do this by reviewing your digital time stamps on your cameras.
Increased movement in blacktail bucks during daylight hours is a major indicator that the rut is beginning to ramp up.
There really is no technical way to know exactly when you’ll find the biggest and most deer. However, the last three days in October through about the 20th of November seem to be the optimum.
This time frame has consistently produced the best results. Hormones, weather and locations vary each year, and pinpointing the exact “peak” is all but impossible. Some good follow-up reading and tips can be found via Scott Haugen and Boyd Iverson.