Winter Deer Hunting Tips
December is here, and for all you deer hunters, festive Christmas lights are also red and green warning lights for the approaching end of hunting season. There are only a few weeks left for you to take a good buck. It is time to up your game. The bucks have mostly finished mating, and in these chilly weeks, deer hunting dynamic changes.
Late-season hunting is said by some to be the best time to claim the most mature whitetails. When I began hunting later in the season, I was pleased to find that deer were generally easier to pattern and kill. They became more visible and predictable–that is, once I got the hang of the game. At the time, I had to learn and adapt to the post-rut season blindly, and I wish that I could have been given a list of winter deer hunting tips like this one.
It’s All About the Food Source
This late in the year, bucks are looking for all the food they can find. Locate a rich food source in the area, and you are bound to find a buck. Deer are stuffing themselves with plenty of food for the winter, and their stomachs have now taken priority over mating.
Skittish Deer Find Thick Cover
During the post-rut season, the survived bucks are likely very jumpy and wary of the shots and deaths that have been all around them for the past few months. Look for thick, well-covered areas for deer bedding. If you find a bed near a rich food source, you are golden. Take a few days to scout out these locations. Late-season hunting is often a waiting game.
Bring Snacks to Warm Your Body
Being outside in the cold for so long can take a toll on your body’s energy, making you colder quicker. I like to keep my body fueled with granola bars and a hot drink. Bring along something to keep your blood running and your stomach working.
Forecast the Best Hunting Days
Whitetails are usually out right before or right after a storm. Check your weather forecast and plan accordingly. You do not want to plan an entire string of days around hunting, only to wake up that morning to a storm.
Follow the Deer Tracks
One great advantage of the snow season is that deer tracks are very apparent, even if they are old. Follow the tracks, old or new, to lead you to areas where deer may be more concentrated.
Avoid Dressing Bulky
Yes, it is important to stay warm. However, bulky clothes can be noisy, and you will perspire more in them, anyway. You will be sweaty, bulky, and uncomfortable. Wear layers that are more slim and well-insulating, as well as breathable. Wear tight boots with thin soles so that you can feel the ground beneath you and walk stealthily. Remember, the deer are more skittish than usual around this time of year, so being quiet and under the radar is more important than ever.
Practice Shooting in the Cold
You may be surprised at how different you shoot in the cold. Before you go hunting in the chilled air, it is wise to practice. Wear the same clothes you plan on wearing while scouting, spend some time in the cold, and learn how your body responds to it.
Hunt careful, hunt smart. Good luck, and happy hunting!