Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Late Season Buck Hunting Tactics

© By Othmar Vohringer

It is early December and in most regions, other than in some Canadian provinces, the rut is winding down to the post rutting stages. With most does breed bucks change their behaviour once again. With the breeding frenzy over and food sources limited bucks concentrate their efforts on gaining back the weight they lost during the rut. Now the buck’s main activity consists of sleeping and feeding to gain the necessary strength to make it through the harsh winter. Many hunters, me included, believe that the post-rut is one of the best times to kill a monster buck. Why?

During the rut bucks chase does day and night and there is no predictable way to determine where they will turn up next. After the rut is over bucks stay in one core area where they can find sufficient cover and food in close proximity. As an additional bonus bucks become more tolerant of each other and it is quite common that several bucks share one core area. But make no mistake late season bucks are no easy pushovers. Even at that time of year bucks are still weary. The bucks that survived the early and rut hunting seasons are skittish and have little tolerance for human intrusion in their core area.

While many big bucks have been taken by stalking them I don’t regard this as the most effective late-season hunting tactic. Granted there it is a special experience to track a buck in the snow and getting close enough to it to shoot it. A much more successful late-season buck hunting tactic is to set up a treestand or ground blind. To find a promising stand site some careful scouting is necessary. Look for a thicket, the thicker the better, in close proximity to a food source. If there is snow on the ground it is not hard to find well-worn trails leading out of the thicket to the food source. Hang a stand or set up a ground blind somewhere in between the two locations, possibly not to close to the bedding area (thicket). Make sure the wind is right and that the stand is far enough away from the thicket that the bucks cannot hear you approach the stand when you walk through the crunchy snow.

Another method that can be very productive during the late season is a well organized deer drive. However, I don’t like the deer drives where the “pushers” shout and bang sticks against trees to scare the deer out of the thickets toward the “standers”. I’ve taken part in such deer drives and always found it very difficult to get a clean shot at a running buck. A much better way is what I call, “nudging deer”. This method can be used with just two hunters. While one hunter is in his stand the other walks upwind of buck holding areas in a zigzag course. As soon the buck smells the pusher he slowly moves off, rather than running at full tilt from the approaching men. This deer drive method makes for much better shooting opportunities since the bucks will walk, not run, past the standers. This method is so effective that it can be used by bowhunters too. To make this tactic work some scouting is needed. When you scout look for terrain features with natural escape routes. Place the stand in these escape routes preferably on the narrowest spot where deer movement is constricted to a single trail. Such funnels can be a narrow strip of trees or brush connecting two larger wooded areas, a overgrown fencerow or a narrow creek crossing, even a broken fence line.

If you prefer to spot and stalk, your best chances are to walk along a south-facing slope inside the timberline. On warm sunny winter days bucks often lay out in the open where the sun keeps them warm to conserve energy. The late season is a great time to be out in search of a big buck. Dress warm and be prepared to hunt all day from dawn to dusk as bucks move around in search of food.


sewa elf jakarta said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

buckee said...

With these Blacktails on the coast, I find that the late rut, is usually far more active that the main rut that usually kicks in around November 15th (give or take a few days).
The main Rut here, is so "on again/off again" it gets a bit frustrating sometimes, but in the late rut, the bucks are always cruising, looking for another young late estrus doe.

TYNI said...

Good write up, and it's so true. Food is now their top priority! This is when turnips, radishes, winter wheats and oats really start getting hammered!

I'm personally not a fan of deer drives, but if it's to the hunters liking it is a great time for it.

Michael said...

Hi there excellent article , Many thanks sharing this information

spike said...

Great article on the rut and the deer what they do, thank you. I hunt peartreegameranch.com for deer. I like hunting the rut, good times.

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