© By Othmar Vohringer
A common mistake made by hunters is to think that after the rut most of the big bucks have been shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. The late season can be a very productive time to be out in the woods as the Dave Voorhees buck (photo) proves. He took his monster buck, scoring 170 B&C points, on December 23rd 2006.
As the season winds down so does the rut activity. By mid December most does have been breed and the bucks turn their attention to more important matters. Food! During the rut the bucks have eaten very little, in fact they lost as much as 25% to 30% of their body weight. With the winter arriving and good nutritious food getting scarce the bucks have to eat and they will eat all day long, resting perodically to conserve energy.
As the bucks change their behavior pattern we must change our tactics accordingly. No longer do we hunt rub lines and scrapes. Now is the time to pay attention to the remaining food sources and the trails leading from food sources to bedding areas.
Crop fields. Although most crops have been harvested the bucks will return to these fields to eat the last remaining morsels left behind by the combine harvesters. White and red oak trees are revisited again and deer dig up the last remaining acorns buried under a layer of snow. You still can use doe in heat scent lures. Lay a scent trail intercepting several deer trails. It might lure a buck to your stand. In December the fawns and does that have not been breed will come in estrus again.
Now that most of the foliage has gone and the ground cover died off a bucks hideouts become limited to a few remaining thickets. Consider setting up a stand near such a thicket and wait the buck out. If it gets really cold and windy bucks seek wind sheltered south facing areas to bed down during their daytime resting periods. The colder the weather the better the chances are that you will find a buck bedded down in the opened soaking up the warming rays of the sun.
Right after a snowfall be out in the woods at dawn and hunt all day. This is the perfect time to track a monster buck in the fresh snow. Many a good buck has fallen to this proven tactic. As a welcome side benefit for the hunters is that tracking deer in the snow keeps you on the move and warm.
The god news about late season hunting is that most hunters will stay at home and watch the football games. This means deer will be more relaxed and you often have the woods all to yourself. This is one of the reasons why late season hunting is my favorite time to be out hunting.
Dress for the occasion. Make sure you dress in several layers depending on the temperature and the method of hunting. Sitting for hours motionless in a treestand soon will drive the cold deep into your body if you’re not dressed warm enough. Take a big thermos of chicken soup and some candy bars with you to supply your body with warmth and sugar (energy). That late in the season you have nothing to loose. Plan on hunting all day from dawn to dusk and you might just end your season with a big buck on the ground.
Good luck to you all and report back here how your season went or better yet, take part in The Whitetail Deer Passion Big Buck Contest 2008
Tags: Post Rut Hunting Tips, Late Season Hunting, Tracking Deer, Late Season Hunting Tactics, Trophy Buck Contest