Most hunters who have been in the game for a while have a certain routine when it comes to working their territories throughout the season. The free-for-all furor of Opening Day eventually gives way to the high deer activity of the rut, which in turn dissolves into cold temperatures and fewer deer sightings as deer season enters its final weeks. For most, the late season is the least enjoyable part of the deer-hunting period, and for good reason. It all feels a bit anticlimactic after the bountiful rewards of the rut, and we’re also experiencing bittersweet feelings regarding the fact that another hunting season is almost confined to the books.
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However, none of this means that you can’t score big bucks in the late season if you work for them. With determination and consistency – not to mention different hunting tactics and strategies – you can make sure that the hunting season ends with a bang rather than a whimper.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Even though deer activity isn’t as prevalent in the late season as it is during the rut, that doesn’t give you license to ditch some of the stealth tactics that you’ve been employing all season long. Scent control is still important; wind directions are still important; making sure that the deer don’t see you – especially near food sources or bedding areas – is important.
Many hunters like to resort to hunting from a blind rather than from a treestand during the late season, due in part to colder temperatures. Sometimes, that’s a good strategy: trying to stay up in a tree, exposed to the cold wind and being covered by falling snow from higher branches, can range from annoying to dangerous. However, just be aware that, when you’re on the ground, the wind can take your scent to deer that much more easily.
Get More Aggressive about Tracking
In the early season, you can sit up in a tree all day and just wait for bucks to wander past. In the late season, with the clock ticking down, you need to get more aggressive if you are hoping to score one last great trophy for the season. You can’t wait for the deer to come to you anymore; you have to go find them. Luckily, the late season – at least in most areas – is marked by a fresh blanket of snow, which can make tracking a deer easier than it is at any other point in the season.
Move in and Take the Shot
Early in the season, it’s risky – and often foolish – to move in on bedding areas or feeding plots. While one of these maneuvers can net you a killer buck, it can also spoil a property for the rest of the season. However, if you’re on the year’s final hunt, then desperate times have officially called for desperate measures. Plan a close ambush of bedding or feeding areas, and if you get a good shot at a buck, take it. You’ve got nothing left to lose, so shoot first and ask questions later. You might send does and other bucks running, but if you get your kill, it will likely be worth it. Just hope that the deer don’t take the home invasion as a reason to blacklist your property for the foreseeable future.