Late-Season Bow Tactics for Whitetails

How do you find whitetails after gun season has made them skittish? Here is where to look.

Late-Season Bow Tactics for Whitetails

You won’t get any argument from me. The toughest time to arrow a buck is during the last week of the bow season, especially in those heavily populated states with lengthy firearms seasons. After all, whitetails are plenty skittish after a month or so of steady hunting pressure, and all it takes is a slight wiggle or an unnatural noise to send them packing.

Find the Bucks

If you want to get a crack at a late-season buck, you must first sit back and think where they could be hiding. You can start with private property that is off limits to hunting, but do not overlook public or corporate property that prohibits the discharge of any weapon, such as parks, school playgrounds, golf courses, water shed properties, airports, ski resorts, and wood lots adjacent to manufacturing sites. Although you cannot generally bowhunt these buck hideouts, careful glassing should reveal the presence of deer to you. And with this knowledge half the battle is won.

Next, study topographical features carefully. Steep ravines, brush-choked creek, thick mucky swamps, precipitous hillsides, the rocky bottoms of landslides, logging slashings, uncut corn lots, windstorm-damaged blocks of timber, Christmas tree plantations, overgrown fields of multi-flora rose, and any other chunk of real estate that for one reason or another prohibits human intrusion can also harbor herds of harried whitetails.

Finally, I look for deer to be bedded during daylight hours in small out-of-the-way parcels that no one in their right mind would think a deer could be hiding such as small stands of sumac in the middle of a large pasture, sparse hedgerows crossing open farm fields, small stands of cattails or a single large-diameter tree complete with unmowed grasses and weeds in the middle of a cut corn lot.

Find the Food

The secret now is to locate their nearest food supply, and intercept them as they sneak back and forth between these feeding grounds and their new daytime resting areas.

In farm country corn fields, alfalfa lots and hay mowings are all good places to begin your search. Where large forests dominate the scene, you can bet the bucks will have been pushed a mile or more from parking lots and other access points. Nonetheless, they will be attracted to abandoned apple orchards, and if beechnuts and acorns are available, south-facing hardwood slopes.

Take the Shot

You need to tip the odds in your favor a bit. Remember these whitetails are still smarting from the gun season! Treestand hunters would do well to conceal their stand in a thick fir tree, or on the opposite side of the tree you expect the deer to approach from. If you can remain seated and shoot after the buck has passed by, then so much the better.

Finally, keep in mind that you are more likely to see several whitetails march by your stand than you are a single deer. Prepare yourself mentally for this eventuality, and don’t flock shoot!


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