Hunting near the end of the deer season has a few unique challenges that make it distinct from hunting at the start of the season. The behavior of the deer will have changed as a result of the changing seasons, and the animals will generally be more cautious in areas that have hunters by that point. Fortunately, it is still possible to take down an impressive deer near the end of the season. It simply requires adapting to the situation and taking advantage of the environment.
1- Adjust Hunting Times
Most hunters wait for their prey fairly early in the morning. That’s a reasonably choice at the start of the season, but it isn’t optimal at the end. Most of the deer will have learned that it is more dangerous to be active at that time. Furthermore, deer sometimes adapt to cold weather by conserving energy while it is cool and searching for food during the warmer parts of the day. That means that hunters can often get better results in the late season if they focus on the middle of the day, so they can catch those deer while they look for fresh food.
2- Find Background Cover
Good hunters know that deer are observant, so hunting them requires excellent cover. That can be a problem late in the season, since bare branches are terrible for hiding. The solution is to find background cover, usually in the form of a set of trees immediately behind you. That will make sure that you silhouette does not stand out against the sky. This is crucial for staying hidden long enough to take an accurate shot, especially for bow hunters, so it is worth taking the time to find the right spot to wait for your prey.
3- Study the Deer
Knowledge is power. Understanding the way that deer behave is useful for hunting at every point in the season, but it becomes vital when their behavior starts to change during the late season. In particular, deer often migrate very suddenly to reach winter homes once the weather gets cold, and it can be useful to find out where the local deer tend to go. Finding out their late season feeding areas can also be useful. In general, late season hunters need to go to the deer instead of waiting for the deer to wander to a convenient hunting spot, so it’s vital to know where to look.
4- Find Food
Food tends to get scarce near the end of the season, but the deer want to eat as much as they can to store up fat for the winter. That means that the easiest way to find a deer is to find a good supply of food. Bait can work very well in the areas that allow it, but it isn’t necessary. Any area that still supports plant growth will work. South-facing slopes are often the best bet because they get a lot of sun late in the season, but you will get the best results by looking around your local wilderness to find tempting spots.
5- Watch for Storms
Deer, like most animals, are extremely sensitive to variations in the weather. Storms have a particularly big impact, and tracking them can be the key to finding deer. Hunting during a storm is a lost cause, both because it is a miserable experience for the hunter and because the deer will be seeking shelter. Instead, it’s best to hunt immediately before and after a storm. The weather will make the deer seek out food in anticipation of the supply shrinking in the near future, and that surge of activity makes them easy to spot.
6- Stay Safe
Hunters who have tags left to fill near the end of the season often get a little bit desperate, and sometimes that makes them take risks. That is a mistake, since it’s impossible to take down a deer if you have hurt yourself. While hunting in the late season can be safer because there aren’t as many hunters around, it is still vital to follow basic safety procedures. The weather can be awful near the end of the season, so it’s also vital to be familiar with basic winter survival techniques in case of an emergency.