The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
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Late Season Whitetail Tactics
Many hunters feel that late season hunting provides the potential for some of the most productive hunting of the entire season. By locating the remaining food sources and keeping a close eye on the weather, hunters can tip the odds in their favor and enjoy tremendous success.
The rut has tapered off in most areas, and the whitetail deer are shifting their patterns to take that into account. By this time, most crops have been brought in, and mast and easily accessible food sources have been depleted. Consumed by the rut, whitetail bucks' objectives will now shift from breeding to eating, trying to regain strength and fattening up in preparation for the winter to come after the trials of the rut. Their first instinct will be to return to their pre rut haunts and search for known areas of food concentration.
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Spend some time over the course of a few evenings carefully learning where the deer are spending their time. Remember that whitetail bucks have spent weeks prowling far and wide searching for receptive does. During this time, the rigors of the rut cause them to lose a large percentage of their body weight. Chasing girls will do that to you. Bucks need to put as much of that weight back on in order to survive the harsh and unforgiving winter that takes its toll on both the healthy and weak.
When you have determined which food sources the bucks are concentrating on, it’s time to setup for the hunt. Hopefully you have located their bedding area, which is also very likely near the feeding area. Deer will frequently bed near the food source, provided there is sufficient cover. Less distance covered means less energy expended. It makes sense that deer will use convenient locations for both feeding and bedding.
That can make setting up a real challenge. Eyes may be anywhere when you try to get to your stand! First determine where and how the deer are entering fields or areas that provide a food source. Look for available cover that you can use to either set up a blind, or an easily accessed tree to put up your stand. If you are shooting from a stand, place it facing away from the feeding area. This will allow you to use the tree itself as cover. Remember, the deer will be coming out of the cover on the same side that you are on. Wait until you are sure there are no deer close enough to bust you when you turn to the field.
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The other critical factor is the weather. During mid-Winter, huge weather systems move through. Large systems frequently drop temperatures dramatically in all of an afternoon. Knowing the forecast can help you decide when to be on your stand. Deer will move and fill their bellies before and certainly after any major storms or cold fronts. When temperatures start to drop, it pays to get out earlier than usual; deer will start hours earlier while the relative temperature is higher in order to graze and forage.
The truth is that hunting during the latter part of the season can be difficult. Cold weather, ice and snow, or freezing, sleet filled rain can make for a miserable afternoon and evening. But with proper preparation, the correct gear, and some forethought, smart hunters can find success where other might otherwise give up!
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan
Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.
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