Late season deer hunting can be tough going, with the cold temperatures and winter conditions but there is still hope to harvest a good mature buck. It is one of the few times of the year when big bucks will begin to reform in bachelor groups in search of quality food to gain weight that was lost from the exhausting rut. These factors provide the late season hunter a great opportunity to harvest a mature buck.
During the winter, deer movement will depend greatly upon the weather conditions. In cold weather deer move less to retain body heat in order to stay warm. The deer will have to locate food and often times will move during the warmest part of the day, usually in the late afternoon or early evening. Wind speed will also decrease deer movement due to wind chill factor. On windy days the deer movement is often restricted to heavy cover, downwind of hills, low lands or other protected areas, where deer can escape wind chill. Be sure to take advantage of any weather that may increase your chances of killing a late season buck. During late season deer hunting, weather can determine your chance of success.
The key to finding these bucks are knowing where their food sources are and knowing the trails from bedding areas to food source. To conserve energy deer can often be found bedded not far from a prime food source. The shorter the distance they have to travel the less energy is consumed which is why a hunter must take extra precaution when getting in and out a hunting blind.
In the post rut most of the does are already bred, bucks are not as willing to respond to calling, rattling, scents and decoys as they were during the rut. Depending on the amount of estrus does in an area, the buck to doe ratio, the testosterone level of a whitetail buck can remain elevated. Using estrus scents and doe calls still can be effective when used near staging areas, food sources and buck core areas. However with bucks not traveling as much, or as willing to respond at this time, the key to attracting bucks is to be in or near areas bucks are using to travel to food source.
The best time to hunt late season is when the conditions are right. When a preferred quality food is available and when the winter weather lets up, expect to see deer earlier in the evening and later in the morning than normal.
Late season deer hunting can be very rewarding if you put in the time and use these tactics to your advantage.
Have you ever had success hunting the late season? Let me know in the comments.