Late-Season Hunting Checklist

Late-Season Hunting Checklist

Robert Norton's unique buck taken in eastern NC

Robert Norton’s unique buck taken in eastern North Carolina¬†

Hopefully, you have had a chance to harvest a nice buck by now. While many hunters have tagged out and already resorted to spending their days off relaxing on the sofa, there is still hope for the have-nots and the die-hards.

The highly anticipated rut is now, for the most part, over. However, a buck is still a creature of habit. This means that he is after two things. The first is security. Any decent-sized buck has probably had a bullet or two slung at him by now. Even if you are hunting an area with limited hunting pressure, chances are even a once careless deer is a bit leery. The second thing is, they are seeking food. This sounds eerily similar to an early-season buck in a-bed-to-feed pattern and that would be correct. Just factor in more hunting pressure and less deer, and you have essentially the same thing. Last season deer are actually much easier to pattern than a rutting buck.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Look for unpressured areas that have not been hunted this year. You need to find thick cover that is near a food source. I can guarantee the deer have already found it.
  • Ignore the second rut. Some hunters kill bucks who are seeking attention from a young doe, but hunting feeding areas with security nearby is your best bet. Chances are the young doe that may come into estrus is also seeking security and cover.
  • Play the wind correctly. The lack of day time movement and cautious deer is no reason to take a lackadaisical approach to hunting. If anything, this is more of a reason to play the wind. Keep the wind in your face at all times.
  • Be ready when the shot presents itself. You may not have the same chances to make the shot as you would during the rut. Be sure of your target and take pull the trigger when the shot presents itself.
  • Seek crops that have yet to be harvested. Any food source that offers easy pickings is plus. Standing soybeans and corn is a deer magnet.
  • Hunt midday and spend as much time in the stand as possible. We all have busy schedules, but every minute spent in the stand is a minute closer to tagging your buck.
  • Hunt until the bitter end. Hunt until legal shooting light ends. Many bucks have made the mistake of getting up from their beds to feed just a few minutes too soon and paid the price for it. Now is not the time to leave your stand a few minutes early.

Andrew Walters