3 Keys to Late Season Success

Late season can be tough hunting. Cold temps and nocturnal bucks to name a few. These 3 keys will help you be successful in the deer woods.

These 3 keys to late season success will give you a great chance at harvesting a mature buck. 

By Nathan Unger

For many hunters the rut is what they plan their annual vacation around. There is nothing wrong with that. The deer are moving, chasing, seeking and rutting and can make for an eventful hunt in the tree stand. However, one of my favorite times to hunt is from the last week in November  until the end of the season.

Mature bucks revert back to their feeding patterns that provide hunters a great opportunity for a harvest. Here are some keys to successfully bagging a bruiser buck during frigid temps and food shortages.

Food

Whitetails need food just as much as humans and other animals require sustenance in order to survive. Depending on where you are hunting deer may need more food. For example deer in Kansas may require more food during the snowy, winter months than, say, deer in Florida.Snow and cold temperatures are going to get deer moving and searching for high caloric food in order to maintain body heat and energy. It is true that mature bucks become nocturnal more so than they are in the rut. This could be from hunting pressure, less energy or just preservation of body heat. However, they have to feed periodically in order to survive.

Trail Cameras

Caleb's Wide-guy
Caleb Unger with his 4 1/2 year old he encountered and harvested on December 19, 2015.

If you are going to pattern a late season buck you need trail cameras. If you can pinpoint his movements in and out of his bedding area your chances increase drastically. The deer may only move 10 minutes before shooting light ends, so the use of trail cameras will help you locate his movements with minimum pressure on his home range. We pinpointed this deer with trail cameras throughout the unseasonably hot temperatures of the 2015 season. But on the first day of a cold snap, Unger capitalized on a food source as this buck was on his way back to bed.

Warm Clothes

I cannot stress enough how important the right clothing for late season hunting can be. It could be the difference between staying out for several hours or calling it quits at dusk because of the lack of feeling in your toes. Trust me, been there, done that. I make sure I have ample clothing, but not too much where it prohibits circulation. I also take along hand and feet warmers which have changed the length of time I’m able to stay in the woods during winter.

One last note I wanted to make. If you define success differently these tactics can still be useful. If you are simply trying to fill the freezer food sources and trail cameras remain important tools for the job. However you define success be sure to get out and hunt. The season is almost over!

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors.

NEXT:Using Trail Camera Surveys to Your Advantage

Three Deer Stand Locations That Will Lead to Success

These locations will be dynamite this fall. Be sure to get intel now for these deer stand locations.

By Nathan Unger

Each summer, as hunters, we’re often faced with the conundrum of where to place our deer stands for the coming deer season. Deer stand locations are important because it could be the difference between harvesting that big whitetail you’ve been dreaming about all summer long.

Hunters have to ask themselves a few questions before they set up stands:

Should I place a stand where I’m seeing summer bachelor group bucks?

Male whitetail home ranges can vary drastically once their velvet comes off and their testosterone level increases. Bucks will move from food-to-bedding patterns in the summer to  looking for and chasing does in the fall.

These deer stand locations will account for some of these changes in home ranges, and will ultimately lead to success will a little bit of buck luck.

Find the food

three deer stand locations

The first location that will be good for the entire season is on the edge of a food source that is downwind of a bedding area where it funnels into that food source. This could include a food plot or a crop field.

If your state has an early bow season this could still be highly successful under the correct weather and pressure conditions in the early season as bucks are still easily patterned. Likewise, if the bedding area is a doe bedroom those bucks will be cruising all around during the rut and into December and January.

This is probably my favorite set-up because it’s good all year long.

The key? Early season scouting before dark or with trail cameras to see where the deer are entering the food sources to help narrow down which tree to precisely put a stand in.

Locate funnels

deer stand locations
A diagram of bedding areas, stand locations and food sources.

While some of this terminology may be more familiar in the western states they can still be applied in south where I do most of my hunting.

There have been several times that I have bumped deer because I thought there was no way they would be located on a certain hillside or in a certain ravine, but over the years it seems as if they prefer certain terrain to better smell approaching predators.

Funnels are a specific point where several paths intersect that deer prefer to travel because of terrain features or obstacles.

The key? Make sure your stand is on the downwind side of these funnels and that you’ve done your research on where that buck is traveling from.

A lot of times that mature buck will make a ‘J-hook’ to sniff out the area before entering a certain location. Oftentimes this is specific to bedding, however deer don’t always follow the rules.

These can be successful during the rut primarily as bucks are chasing does and can be careless from time to time especially if the wind is in your favor.

Identify benches

These unique, topographical ledges are exactly what they sound like. Imagine a hillside being the backboard of a bench and the seat being an off-shoot of that hill. These off-shoots are some of mature bucks favorite bedding areas because they can see anything coming from below them and smell anything coming from above them.

Numerous times have I gotten too close to these areas and bumped deer because they caught my scent. Setting up a stand on the downwind side of the entrance to these benches will be great sites to place a stand.

Diagram

The diagram above highlights food sources, “F”, bedding areas are marked with a purple circle,”X” marks stand locations and the purple lines are streams running through the property. The three X’s that are immediately adjacent to the red borders are the funnels specific to this property where the terrain or stream forces deer into this specific location.

The X’s that are not located on a food sources or immediately next to the red border are benches where the deer will sometimes bed or travel in between food sources or bedding areas.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. By no means is this a one-size-fits-all formula, but for the majority it will lead to hunting success this season.

NEXT:New to Mineral Stations? This Will Help.