- By Rich Miller
The stories of big bucks hitting the ground are few and far between over the past couple of weeks. I think the rut is pretty much over for most of us. Now there will still be some good bucks taken but it isn’t going to be like it was through November. There is not a need to quit hunting just because the rut is over though - bucks are still out there.
Some does still haven’t been bred, and if any of the does cycle back around bucks will breed them. Hunting does gets a little tougher this time of year because of the weather and deer movement. Depending on the areas you hunt and the pressure that has been put on the deer for the last couple of months, deer movement can really slow down. The key to finding them in this late season is food sources. Does are feeding up for the winter and the bucks are trying to recover from the rut.
A lot of guys have put a lot of pressure on their food plots hunting them regularly during the rut trying to catch bucks cruising for hot does. In the cases I have heard, they are telling me they are not seeing any deer right now. The problem is by now deer have patterned hunters. They know that there has been a lot of human activity around food plots, feeders, and corn piles over the last couple of months and this has made deer nocturnal.
The solution to this problem is pretty simple and the only thing it requires is a little thought and leg work. By hunting these areas regularly all year you should know where deer are coming from when heading to feed. Usually the same place you hunt to intercept the deer in early season between bedding and feeding will work just as well during the late season. The only thing that I might change is try to find a little thicker cover during late season hunts because deer shy away from open areas and tend to stay closer to thicker cover.
When trying to find a good stand site between bedding and cover, I normally look for it during the middle of the day and always make sure the wind is in my favor before entering these areas. I try and not get any closer to the bedding area than I have to because bumping the deer this late in the year could affect the rest of my season. Anywhere from 25 to 75 yards off of the food source can make a world of difference in getting a shot on a deer during good shooting light. Deer get a little more predictable again this time of year so if the stand site isn’t close enough to get a shot, don’t hesitate to move the stand after seeing where deer are using.
It doesn’t matter if you are still trying to fill your buck tag or if you are trying to do a little herd management, food sources are the key to this time of year. A deer’s stomach is controlling them this time of year and they will be going to feed no matter what. This is the time where hunters really have to hunt deer to figure them out instead of sitting and waiting on them to come to them.