American Hunter - December 2012 - 57

year during this same time. The action is not
fast and furious, but the next crunching leaf
you hear may well be under the hoof of the
biggest buck you have ever seen.

Second Hope: The Transition to Food
Your second opportunity during the lateNovember to early-December time frame
comes when the deer make the transition
to food. This behavior really starts in earnest about the first week of December. I
don't have any research data to support
this, but often the bucks seem to lay low
for a week after the breeding is completed
to just rest and lick their wounds.
However, by early December they are
really starting to get after the food. Last
season, our son, Drew, shot a great buck
on Dec. . We'd been hunting that deer
throughout the entire November rut without seeing him. We had dozens of trail-cam
photos of him, always taken after dark.
The first time we saw the buck in daylight during the  season was the evening Drew shot him. The buck was mostly
interested in feeding. I filmed the hunt for
my website: Going back and watching that
episode now, I don't see the buck showing
any interest in the does that were already

present in the field. He was all about eating soybeans and gaining back some of the
weight he lost during the rut.
Just like hunting the rut's second peak,
the situation has to be right for this to
work. Starting in early December, you can
sometimes catch bucks on their feet in
daylight that have been largely nocturnal
all season. I have seen it many times-it
is definitely a vulnerable time for them.
For that to work, you need a good food
source and an area where the deer were
not hunted hard in November. There are
few places where they aren't hunted at
all, but as long as the hunting pressure
was moderate in November, they will still
react to food in early December in a fairly
predictable way.
Strategy You can either hunt these
food sources right away and hope the buck
you are after comes out, or you can wait
until you either see him from a distance or
get some daylight photos of him on your
trail camera.
Personally, I favor the second approach
because it keeps the pressure off until
the odds are more in your favor. If you
hunt a feeding area much (even from 
yards away with a muzzleloader) you will

eventually educate the deer using the area.
So, having a sound scouting plan is the
key to keeping the pressure off the deer.
Since most of us are too busy to check
two or three fields just before dark each
day, a camera does the best job of scouting
for us.
However, you can't be shy once you
see daylight activity from a shooter. You
have to go for it the very next evening if
the wind will permit. Such a deer doesn't
stay on patterns for long at any time of
the year and is particularly skittish after
the firearm season.

Conclusion

If you hunt an area with moderate hunting
pressure you have two great opportunities
for success after the wild week in early
November. You still have the rut's second
peak and the transition to food.
These two events have been responsible for some very nice bucks for my
family and friends over the years. Now I
don't worry when Nov.  gets here and I
still have my buck tag in my pocket. It just
means I get to keep hunting. Some years,
when the peak of the rut had passed, the
best really was yet to come. ah



American Hunter - December 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2012

American Hunter - December 2012 - 1
American Hunter - December 2012 - 2
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