Whitetail Hunting During the Late Season

Whitetail Hunting During the Late Season

Late Season Hunting

Finding big bucks in the late season includes finding good food sources and cold temperatures.


This is a guest blog submitted by BuckNut Deer Scents

As you feel the strong wind coming from the north, you know very well the wind is carrying more than just the cold weather. Yep. The end of this year’s deer season is closing in. Feeling the cold wind as it hits your face, makes you cringe.

Not because of the coolness in the air, but because you have exhausted almost all of your vacation days during the rut, and you still have not killed a buck.

Not to worry, you do not need to stress about time just yet. You do not need much more time to tag an old fashion late seasoned buck. You need approximately five days and they don’t need to be consecutive.

There are still deer around, but in this case, there are no guarantees. With time quickly running out here is a 5 hunt plan to help you tag a big, late season bruiser.

Day: 1

At this time, it may seem detrimental in limit your hunting time when there isn’t much left, but as you know, you cannot kill a deer if there are none around.

It is best for you to start spending about two to three days (out of your 5) finding the best spots for a few good hunts, rather than spending 4 days sitting in a worthless pit hoping a buck will prance on by.

Every late season is always going to be driven by hunger, so your first goal is to scout for their food sources. You should be expecting to concentrate on the big numbers that deer travel while finding the best spots for food.

Mature bucks are going to be included in these travels, during the rut, bucks can lose about 30% of their body weight so they need to fatten back up. Do not count on seeing some late rut activity, however, if you do happen to see this activity, it is because there are some doe fawns that have come into heat for the first time.

The bucks will seek out the doe and other deer in the areas where there will be food, therefore you need to be there too.

If you are hunting in the Midwest, or in the North, this late season food will consist of soybeans, milo, brassica plots, and corn. If you are hunting in the East, or down South, you can still count on the many rows of the hard mast, and row crops, but be sure to take note of the greens, like clovers, soft mast, and oats.

Most of these food sources can stay in season through the winter. So, regardless of where you are planning on hunting, the fields of grain like the soybeans and the corn will be receiving more attention when it is bitterly cold outside. For the green fields like, the brassicas and the wheat, these tend to be more attractive to the deer when the temperatures are getting higher.

After you have narrowed down the options for some food sources to seek, you are now going to be taking up the terrain, starting with either topographic maps, or aerial images.

It is very important to know where the deer lay their heads just as it is important to know where the active food sources are. The east and south facing slopes should be the two areas that should peak your interest during the late season.

In these locations, this is where the deer find their shelter from the strong winds, and where they catch the warmth from the morning sun. Generally, the does tend to be bedded closer to their food source, while the bucks tend to bed back up on the higher slopes within the surrounding covered areas.

After you have narrowed down the spots that you feel are going to have the most activity (bedding and food sources), you need to set out to the woods and confirm a couple things.

It is best to start in the early hours of the morning, and set out by foot scouting the different food sources, trails for some fresh tracks, signs of bucks, and even droppings.

It is not uncommon to find scrapes and rubbings that are fresh. When you do find these signs, along with the other signs you are seeking, hang your cameras in their places right away. You should be setting these cameras up by noon, that way you can capture the activities that happens in the evenings.

Day: 2

The 2nd day of the 5 days that are left, this is going to be your day of contingency, and you will be spending this day much like the first day. If you even find a food source that is riddled in deer tracks, chances are, there is at least one shooter hitting one of them. But, now that you know what you are looking for, be sure to keep your eyes open for the next best opportunity.

Do not procrastinate! If you found your area, and feel this is going to be the one, start to hone in on your hunting plan. If you find the food source areas are convenient for observing the deer from a distance, make sure you are spending the evening looking from a good vantage point and observe.

If the weather conditions are in your favor, your prize buck will most likely step out before the dark begins to set. Make sure you are taking in every detail you possibly can about his activity, like where he goes, and does during this time, and plan on moving in the next day and tag him.

Of course, that is in the perfect world. In some cases, you are not going to find the “golden” food source. Especially if you are focused on hunting when there is a lot of pressure, or in the timber.

If this is the case, just forget about the food sources, and focus on sanctuaries you may have overlooked before. You want to find the areas that have been untouched throughout the season.

The late season game are very smart, so do not underestimate them. They tend to take refuge in the blow downs, swamps, fencerows, drainages, and such. They know the spots to avoid hungry hunters. These places will be ideal in setting up your camera. Once you do, you should be hoping for the best.

Day: 3

Spending good amount of time during these two days, scouting for your last chance in scoring your whitetail, you will most likely catch onto one lucky buck.

Make sure that you take some pictures of him. If you haven’t seen him yet, you are most likely going to see the signs that he left behind. These will give you the information you have been yearning for all season.

But, nonetheless, today is going to be the day when you begin to hunt. Keep in mind, you are going to be adding in a bit of scouting as well. If you were not able to snap a picture, or spotted a buck with your naked eye, your best bet is to climb a tree in a good area that you have found the freshest signs, and be patient.

Leave your camera in that area, and return to the area for a checkup. Always remember, that this also goes for deer hunting at all times during the hunting season. Cameras don’t have the ability or the Intel that you do from a distance.

Typically, you should spot a buck by this time. If you have not just yet, always keep looking for fresh signs. Even if you only have a few days left till the season ends. But, you have put in some major time with your scouting, so when you choose a specific spot, it is for a reason.

Day: 4

Now, that you are hunting, this is going to be the hardest time, and time is quickly running out. Because time is of the essence now, do not get discouraged. This will result in some sloppy work. At this point, you cannot afford to overlook any deer. It is very critical that your exit and entry routes are undetected.

When you walk to and from the stand, make sure that it is low impact. This means that you should be walking across the open fields to get to your standing point, but after it gets dark, quietly go out in the timber or the creek area.

In the afternoons, this is the time when they tend to be more productive in the late season. But never discount your morning sittings.

For me, my cameras have shown that the mornings are not as nearly as bad as some hunters tend to believe.

Although, the deer spook much easier in the mornings, because they are moving around when you are getting situated in your stand. Every minute of the daylight is when you should be observing the activity from your designated tree.

Day: 5

Your final day. But, this day can also be your best day if you have not had the chance to tag a buck yet. By this time, you have already figured out some type of pattern.

Depending on where you have been spending your time, try to move about 50 to 100 yards closer to the targeted area. The deer are most likely staging cover, so make sure that you stay out of their sight. This day is going to be risky, but this day is going to be your best time to play.

Since we have already thoroughly discussed the evening and morning hunts, do not overlook the midday by any means. Some studies have suggested that the bucks tend to move between 10 AM to 2 PM. starts to increase during the time of the late season.

So if there was ever a time to “go all out”, and spend all day hunting, this is the day. Your final day. If you are there around 2 PM that some studies have suggested, and there is still no activity, or the buck does not show, not to worry, You have not lost anything yet.

There is going to be many missed opportunities, as well as more opportunities. As long as you dedicate yourself in setting out to drag that buck home. It is possible. Hunting takes patience and it is very time consuming, but very rewarding.

So, as you are contemplating on packing up and going home, make sure you have gone through all the possibilities that are presented right there in front of you. Take note of the conditions, such as the weather conditions, the surrounding area’s conditions, the certain time’s conditions, your conditions, and the bucks conditions.

Stay planted. Be patient, and wait. This is your last day, and you have come this far to get a glimpse, and squeeze that trigger. Soon enough, you will be presented with that masterpiece in front of you, and you do not want to leave and miss this opportunity you have been dedicating yourself to this season.

Remember, the buck knows where his home is, and has too eat sometime, so make sure you are at a vantage point where you are hidden, facing the wind, and ready to squeeze or draw at any moment’s notice. Sooner or later you will see him.

However, if you are there when the buck comes prancing out the woods around 3 PM, 5 PM or 9 AM, this is when you know your plan that you have constructed over the last 4 days is finally coming into play.

Now, the final day has come, and this is the time where you are responsible for you. The finishing part is all up to you. Now is the moment to calm your nerves, relax yourself, take your time, hold your breath, and squeeze that trigger, and tag your buck.

Good luck and be sure to check out more hunting blogs.

PJ Cashman

PJ is the co-founder of MorningMoss.com and is an avid hunter and lover of all things outdoors.

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