With hunting season beginning to wane, here are six ways to squeeze out a little more of the chase.
It seems like we wait and wait for hunting seasons to open and give us the action we've patiently waited for all year. However, once we make it to the fall, the numbered days seem to evade us before we could ever possibly get our annual fix.
Depending on where you live, there are still some seasons going strong, though, and a few that are starting to end.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what we can still legally hunt, along with some other activities that will keep us going until next year.
Remember all of those tree rats that bothered you during the open deer season? And remember how hard you held back shooting at them you wouldn't disturb the deer woods? Well, now is your chance to reclaim your deer hunting spot from those bothersome little grey and red animals.
Not only is squirrel some good eating, but you'll also soon find you have to hunt them like any other creature in the woods, since they don't just wait to be shot. Even at that, there are several good ways to target them, as you can plink with your smaller-caliber rifles, a .410 shotgun or even your favorite handgun in the states where it's legal.
Squirrel season is open in New York, North Carolina, Texas and many other states until the end of February.
Most states also allow for the chasing of these delicious little critters until the end of February and often longer. For many folks, letting a brace of beagles chase a cottontail is the best hunting that exists.
Chasing bunnies is also a great way to get youth hunters a little more experience in the field. Veteran hunters can more easily show a young hunter the ropes of field dressing an animal during a small game season, as it simply offers a higher success rate. And, it offers valuable lessons regarding the importance of conservation, particularly when it comes to limiting the waste on a smaller animal.
While still a good offering for the youth hunting crowd, this can be challenging hunt, as these birds are capable of humiliating any hunter with just one powerful flush.
Chasing grouse in the winter when they're most vulnerable isn't a great idea, but many states such as New York have an open season until the end of February, while Michigan, for instance, closes their ruffed grouse season by the start of January.
Chukar and Hungarian partridge seasons have long since closed in Nevada and Utah.
Last Chance Waterfowl/Doves
States like Texas and Louisiana have to hold their breath while the rest of us up north get to target ducks and geese until the late seasons close in early January, but for southern hunters, things really get going about then. It's not that they had to wait long, but Louisiana Wildlife & Fisherie's East Zone, West Zone and Coastal Zones generally open up around mid-November, while their late season is when the rubber hits the road, running from mid-December through the end of January. The same is true for doves in the Pelican State with the third of three seasons running from late December through the end of January.
It's much the same in Texas where the dates range from mid-December until the end of January for waterfowl and doves.
Sure, most hunters will have to travel to take advantage of these great southern opportunities, but these two, among other southern states, are quite welcoming to outdoorsmen from across the nation who are seeking a great guided hunting experience to take some of the sting out of winter.
Along with duck and goose hunting, grouse hunting, and even bunny hunting, this is a great opportunity to share a late hunt with friends. Setting up with predator calls, decoys and your favorite winter camo is much easier and more pleasurable with friends.
In the Catskill and Adirondack regions of New York, hunters can target bobcats until Feb. 15, and in most of the state, coyotes are fair game until March 31. In Texas, coyotes are fair game year round with no closed season and this includes bobcats, too.
Michigan hunters can target bobcats all winter and coyotes year round.
Shed Hunting/Scouting Trip
Sure, this isn't always an actual hunt, but when done in conjunction with some of the other open seasons, a shed hunt can easily turn into a coyote or grouse hunt. And, it's never a bad time to scout your favorite deer woods to try and understand what the whitetail deer have been doing since we quit chasing them.
Some hunters will tell you this is a crucial time of the year to check up on your favorite whitetail hunts, as they've stopped being wary of the chase and are acting in a much more natural way. Because they're in a winter survival mode, they're much more likely to frequent their regular routes. So, you'll still need to be stealthy and quiet, but now you'll be able to see if your instincts were correct when it comes to your stand locations.
You may not have seen them quite when you wanted to while the season was open, but many times that's due to hunting pressure, especially during firearms season. Now, as you walk through these areas after the deer have settled down, it's easier to see tracks and other signs of life.