American Hunter - December 2013 - 44

Late-Season
Food Sources

Corn or soybeans are your best
choice for food sources. Beans
don't need as much soil moisture in
general as corn so they are a better
choice in drier climates-and they
are cheaper to plant. But corn is
higher in carbs, and when it gets
really cold, that is where the deer
head. In the South, a late-summer
planting of oats and ryegrass is a
good choice. Brassica blends (bigleafed plants like turnips and dwarf
Essex rape) are also good options
for all regions.

Weather Breaks

Everyone thinks it has to be cold to have
great late-season hunting. Not true. What
really gets deer moving is not so much the
temperature itself, but rather any meaningful change in the temperature. If the late fall
has been seasonal for a period, a temperature drop of even  degrees will get them
out of their beds and into the food earlier
in the evening. If, on the other hand, the
weather has been frigid for weeks, a warm
snap will serve the same purpose.
The best hunting I have ever seen on
our farm in Iowa was not a rut hunt, and
it wasn't a cold snap. It started in late
December , right after Christmas,
with a warm front that unlocked a halfinch of ice that had blanketed the area for
weeks. When the weather warmed, the
deer went nuts.

I filmed one of my employees when he
shot a great buck the day the thaw started.
The big, -inch -pointer came out at
 yards when Chad pulled down on him
with the muzzleloader. We saw  different
bucks that evening. They were everywhere.
My friend Mike Sawyer and his cousin,
Chris Mack, arrived a couple of days later.
By the time they started hunting on New
Year's Day, the warm spell was three days
old; all the ice was finally gone, opening
up the alfalfa field along which they were
hunting. Even three days into the warm
up, the deer were still feeding heavily.
Mike was bowhunting and Chris was
filming him. But Chris was also carrying a
muzzleloader. If a buck passed out of bow
range, Mike would grab the camera and
film Chris. If it was close enough for a bow
shot, Chris was in charge of the camera

Late-Season Challenges

After the rut, bucks tend to move much less during the morning
than during the afternoon. One researcher found that most
deer finish feeding about two hours before sunrise. They then
pick their way slowly toward their bedding areas. This makes
morning hunting a risky proposition when the rut ends.
Another challenge is the fact that during early winter cold
snaps, the deer bed very close to their food. You have to be very
careful in the routes you take to your stands because the deer
are likely to be nearby. I have gone so far as to wear snow camo
to my late-season treestands just so I can sneak in across the
white landscape without attracting too much attention.
Pinpointing your stand is also a challenge at this time.
Bucks won't use the same exact trail to enter their feeding
area each day, so don't read too much into a single sighting
or a single photo. You have to play things carefully by placing
  ❘

and Mike's job was to get the arrow in
the right place.
In a span of just two days, Mike shot
four does with his bow and filmed Chris
as he shot a mature, -inch -pointer
that came by on Jan. . The next evening
Chris returned the favor as he filmed
Mike shooting an incredible -inch
gross-scoring -pointer. Mike made a
-yard shot as the buck headed past the
stand toward the open fields.
Unbelievably, five of those six deer
came from the same stand! All were so
focused on the open fields made accessible by the warm front that they kept
coming out despite all the human activity
that had taken place in that area. It was
almost as if they ignored it.
Of course, cold snaps have the same
effect. During the  and  seasons,

your stand in a spot that will give you a shot but also allow
you to stay undetected if he doesn't come out or comes out
by a different trail.
A very good late-season option is a warm ground blind. Have
someone drive in and spook the deer from the field at the end
of legal shooting time so you can sneak out undetected.
Sometimes mature bucks won't make it to the food by dark,
but they will be nearby, watching and waiting. So, even if you
only spook a couple of non-target deer while heading back to
your vehicle after an unsuccessful hunt, you've just educated
his advance guard and have made it more difficult to tag the
buck on future hunts.
Make sure that you can get out of the area after shooting time
without alarming a single deer. If you can't, you've committed
yourself too far into the feeding area and you need a better
plan. It is that simple.

 ❘ .


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American Hunter - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2013

Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover2
American Hunter - December 2013 - 1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - 3
American Hunter - December 2013 - 4
American Hunter - December 2013 - 5
American Hunter - December 2013 - 6
American Hunter - December 2013 - 7
American Hunter - December 2013 - 8
American Hunter - December 2013 - 9
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American Hunter - December 2013 - 11
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American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover3
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover4
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