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

Big Bucks: A Logical Approach

By Caleb Unger:

If you are a deer hunter like me (if you are reading this article, there’s a good chance that you are), the ultimate goal is to bag the “biggon” or take down “big brown,” otherwise known as shooting the giant bruiser buck that is on the property you are hunting. To accomplish such a gratifying endeavor, it is quite logical in the way we hunters must prepare for and pursue these beasts that can so easily evade the carefree attitudes that many hunters possess. Notice I said logical, not easy. As with the majority of impressive and satisfying accomplishments in this short journey of life,  perseverance and patience pay off in the pursuit of trophy deer. By keeping a level head throughout the process of this daunting adventure, it becomes a reality to bag and appreciate the giant trophies that lurk and thrive in their natural habitat.

Pre-Game Preparation

Championship fourth quarter and you are down by twenty making no progress. The Coach says, “keep the same players in and run the same play we have been running with the same defense that hasn’t been working all night. After all it’s the only thing we know how to do because that’s all we have ever done.” That’s clearly poor preparation for the big task at hand. Though deer hunting is definitely not the same as shooting a basketball or catching a football, they do all require sound preparation to accomplish the most prestigious goals.  And I’m not just talking about sighting in your gun/bow and practicing in every situation you can think of to prepare for that shot (which is extremely necessary and practically impossible as well because it never fails that an animal gets you in an awkward position that you weren’t expecting). I’m talking about putting yourself in a situation/environment in which you can win, in which you can kill that trophy.

Food

Now ponder this thought. What does it take to grow big and strong? A healthy diet, requiring available nutrition and plenty of water. Duh, it’s elementary. Therefore, make sure you are providing such an atmosphere on your property for the deer that inhabit it. That’s really all I have to say about that.

Caleb's Wide-guy
Caleb Unger with his 4 1/2 year old he encountered on one of the few cold days this past 2015 season.

Wait! I promise it’s worth it.

You want a big buck huh? Stop shooting little guys with baskets on their heads that make the occasional deer observer say, “oh good for him; he probably just started deer hunting this year.” That’s cute; it really is. But really?? Stop complaining that you can’t kill a big buck when you’re not even patient enough to pass up the occasional 100 inch eight point that walks in front of you. You’re better than that. It’s logical, and you know it. Deer cannot grow to gigantic standards when they are being taken out within their first years of living on this earth. Let him grow and age so as the years go on and you see him on the camera or in the woods, you appreciate him more and more for what he is, enjoying your hunt even more than before. Then, when you shoot a big buck (which there will be more of them), that same deer hunting enthusiast will say, “wow, he must be a skilled hunter. Look at that rack!”

Don’t wait on all of them.

This lesson I had to learn myself over my high school years when I wasn’t thinking nearly as logically as I do now when it comes to deer hunting. Bucks like does, just like men like women. And like men, big bucks love to pursue their women. However, if there are does everywhere and so numerous, then that big buck does not have to risk much or travel far or in the open to go find a doe, especially if he is the dominant guy in the area. Therefore, what is the logical answer to this? Shoot does. I’m not saying go on a rampage and shoot every doe you see. If you hunt enough and use a trail cam, you have a decent idea of the population of deer you are hunting, so don’t be afraid to take a couple nice-sized does to feed your family or hungry people other than yourself. This also helps prevent overpopulation and malnutrition, as it keeps the deer population just right so that everybody has enough to eat on your property. Just don’t shoot a doe that will leave a small Bambi who is right next to her helpless, not knowing how to survive. You have a brain; make the right judgement call. However, like I said before, don’t sway to the other extreme and kill every doe you see because there also needs to be a future population of deer, and she is in charge of giving birth to it.

Where do you hunt?

Obviously, you cannot kill a big deer without hunting where the big deer is. So find out where he is traveling, when he is traveling, and who he is hanging out with.

Put these logical tactics into place, and you will find yourself with a great recipe for successfully hunting a mature whitetail!

Good luck and keep hunting!

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Hunting Bad Weather Conditions: Is It Worth The Trouble?

By Nathan Unger:

First of all I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I hope that you have had valuable family time as well as some rest and relaxation.

Any opportunity you get to hunt a torrential downpour or a blizzard you should. I’m not advocating hunting in a tornado or lighting storm, but just enough nasty weather to use it to your advantage. Here’s why.

  • Rain eliminates scent

Anytime it’s raining you probably have a distinct advantage against a deer’s nose. The rain seems to wash away any scent you may leave behind, and personally, I have seen a lot of deer movement during the rain both in mild and cold conditions. The only time I have not seen much movement is during warm, rainy days, however that can be said for most warm days. In addition, I believe immediately after it rains is a prime time because deer will be eager to eat the moist vegetation.

  • Snow is great!

Okay, maybe not for you, but there is nothing some hand warmers and several layers of clothes can’t fix. The cold temperatures that come with snow are ideal because deer have to keep and maintain body warmth during these harsh temperatures which inevitably leads them to search for food. These cold temperatures also produce day time movement because the deer have to be on their feet so often in order to survive which plays right into the hands of hunters. During these cold temps be sure to hunt around high calories food sources such as corn that deer prefer in the dead of winter.

  • Wind

It’s exactly that – wind. It can be advantageous or it can really kill a hunt. I’m not really talking about seven to ten mile an hour winds. I’m more so talking about in the 20-30 range. Strong winds can dampen noise, and if you use the wind correctly deer will have to get down wind of you to smell you which hopefully will offer you a shot which is why it is important to have a stand placement downwind of the deer. However, we’ve all been busted by a deer’s nose before, so I don’t really need to explain what happens if a deer catches your wind, but in short you might as well find a new location to hunt. This is really up to you to decide whether you like hunting strong winds. I’ve heard experts say that they love hunting strong wind conditions, but I’ve also known deer to bed down and wait the strong winds out. I’m still personally trying to learn more about this myself.

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Nathan Unger’s doe he took during a hard rain in 2014
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Caleb Unger’s 4 1/2 year old he shot in rain storm in 2014
So comment below, and I would like to get your thoughts on these and which you like to hunt and the ones you don’t! Good luck and keep hunting!

Keep scouting and good hunting!

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