The Late Season
Following the rut and the chaotic days of gun season, deer gradually return to traditional movement patterns. The focus shifts from procreation and survival back to food and sustenance. Deer patterns come full circle.
Again, evening stand hunting over food sources is a great way to intercept deer. Late in the year food sources can become a deer magnet. Most modern farm equipment picks agricultural fields clean, but some smaller farm operations utilize outdated pickers and combines. Some farming operations, like those practiced by the Amish and Mennonites, still harvest by hand and leave large quantities of grain in the fields. Gaining permission to hunt similar private food sources will lead to numerous deer sightings.
Don’t discount public land. Bowhunters who shy away from crowded public plots early in the season may witness a change during the cold, late months. Some management lands are richly planted in food crops for wildlife. Scarcity of food elsewhere can draw deer onto public property.
Bedding areas are a good bet for morning hunters in the late season, and aggressive hunting is a viable tactic. Season’s end is rapidly approaching, and there is no fear of spoiling future stand sites.
Traditional morning or evening hunting can become a secondary option when winter temperatures fall bitterly cold. Early afternoon and midday can excite deer to move under the warming sun.
It would be nice to report that my friend Bill returned to Rascal Ridge and killed a trophy deer. Regrettably, he did not. Bill reevaluated the locale as a food source and determined it was best as an evening gig. The stand guarded a copse of white oak overlooking a bedding thicket deep in a valley.
Bill later returned to the ridge and witnessed a contingent of does and yearlings munching acorns. A 10-point buck briefly appeared but evaded harvest. No matter. Wise timing provided Bill a hunt rich in deer sightings—experiences he will remember fondly until next season.