Late season deer hunting is not for the person who is less than fully committed to the sport.  Weather conditions and less available game make for hard work. Late season means deer hunting in cold and snow.  To the hunter willing to forgo some comfort, this time can mean opportunities not available earlier.

 There is a lack of hunting pressure.  Gone is the opening day Johnny, who hunts only opening day each year and spends the rest of the hunt in camp.  Gone too, it the guy who hunts for meat, because he has probably taken his deer.  The less experienced hunter has usually gone home in frustration over the fact that it is more difficult to hunt deer than he had thought.

 Another benefit of late season hunting is the experience of being in the woods when the snow falls.  The snowscape of winter can be a joy to behold.  Snow also means it is easier to track the quarry.  A skilled hunter can tell much from the tracks in snow.  He can find the old herd buck that is often the wall hanger.  Late season is the trophy hunter’s time to shine.

 Old herd bucks have a very definite track that shows up vividly in snow.  The old guys will walk with their front track angled 30 percent from center on the hind feet.  In addition, he does not place his hind feet in the track of his front feet.  When watching an old buck from a distance, it is easy to spot him from the way we walk.  He looks like he is doing the shuffle.  Does and young bucks are more graceful and spritely.  The old buck cannot carry his neck and head the way a lesser buck or doe will do.  The swelling of the adrenal glands in his neck, during and just after the rut, causes him to carry his head low like he is sneaking through brush.  Many believe that he is hiding his horns or smelling the ground in search of a doe that has recently passed that way.  He could be but it is more likely that this way he is more comfortable. 

Old bucks travel on their own trail and not on the herd trail late in the season.  The herd trail is usually wide and well beaten down from extensive use.  The old guy’s trail will seldom be 5 inches in width and not well traveled.  It is used one way going to the feeding area and a different trail is used in moving from the feeding to bedding area.  The buck’s trail also doubles as an escape route.  Knowing this, the hunter can wait in ambush on each trail, depending upon the time of the day. 

Deer move to feeding areas in the late afternoon and to bedding areas in the morning. 

Hunters who work with the fronts of weather that pass through are improving their chances.  The weather just ahead of a front in the late season usually is cloudy and often snowy.  Deer will feed heavily just before a front and tight after it passes.  They will lay up for long periods of time, waiting for the front to pass.  On a cloudy day, they will feed in the open and lay up in the edges of cover surrounding them.  On the days of the really bad weather, they will head for the heaviest cover they can find.  Such cover is the forest, swamps and slews.  

A light snow or drizzle will cause deer to move around a lot as they feed and bed down frequently during the day.  This is most likely because as their fur gets wets, it loses some of its insulating capacity.  They move to get water off the coat and to feed so that they can take in more calories to help maintain body temperature. 

Deer in populated areas take advantage of small islands of habitat that are often overlooked by hunters.  Late season hunters would be wise to not pass up small brushy or marshy areas in the middle of otherwise open country.  The area may be only big enough to hide a single buck but chances are he will be a big one. 

Any area that covers an acre or two, the area can be driven well by four hunters.  Place standers in position up wind from the drives.  It is best to have two of each.  The standers should be in position long before the drive begins.  They should approach their stands quietly.  Once the drive begins, the drivers move down wind in a zig zag motion and very slowly.  They should stop frequently to look around.  Deer will try to sneak through the line and circle behind the driver.

 The drivers may move 10 feet, stop for 30 seconds, and then move 10 feet diagonally in the opposite direction.  That is the formula.  It confuses the deer as to where the hunter is headed and lessens his chance of sneaking behind the driver.  This can be effective in taking a big buck that has moved to a small area to avoid the hunting pressure. 

Another spot for late season bucks is the brushy tangles connecting one thick wooded area with either:  another brushy area, thick slashings in a clear cut, heavy wooded areas, flooded pond areas, or cedar swamps with heavy cover on the border.

 Swampy areas near public hunting areas are often overlooked by hunters who do not want to take the trouble to explore.  One can set up on some of the open game trails and lay in wait. 

The late season hunter willing to be imaginative and pay attention to detail can do well.  He should not over look a single patch of habitat.  Hunters need to study the habits of their quarry and learn to recognize quality habitat when they see it.  

With luck and having done the homework, the late season hunter probably stands a better chance of meeting up with that old master of the herd.  Whether he takes him or not depends upon his ability with the weapon of choice.  But, that is the subject for another article.



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  1. Pingback: TIPS FOR THE LATE SEASON HUNTER « Don Gasaway's Blog | Hunting Reviews

  2. Pingback: TIPS FOR THE LATE SEASON HUNTER | Survival Fishing

  3. Real good tips!.. Very helpful you are so great for sharing this awesome tips.

  4. One of the best time of the season to hunt for trophy deer is after the more “laid-back” hunters hang up their guns for the year. They have returned to their homes hiding from the extreme cold and found a place on the couch where they can focus on the sports shows on the television until the ground thaws.

  5. Pingback: 7 Different Late Season Deer Tactics That Will Get You That Shot | Northeast Hunting - New England's Premier Hunting & Firearms Blog

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