Deer Strategies and Tactics

End Of Season Bucks

Deer Hunting Tips: Late Season Bucks: As the deer hunting season winds down, there will still be opportunities for harvesting a buck. Here are a few late season tactics.

Late Rut Activity

Towards the end of the deer hunting season, most of the does have been bred. However, there may be a few that missed the primary breeding period.

Bucks will still be alert to the smells of estrus. Some will continue to roam seeking out these last remaining does.

Hunters should pay attention to these signs and spend time near breeding zones or doe bedding areas.

Thick Cover

Deer hunting will also put pressure on bucks. By late season, the bucks will often be located in isolated thick cover areas.

These areas will generally be near a deer food source. Bucks return to being conservative about spending too much energy.

They will mainly stay in the thick cover moving only occasionally. Hunting near such locations can catch a buck slipping through the thickets.

Land Not Hunted

Deer will also take advantage of terrain that has not been used by hunters. This is only a natural progression as the season goes on.

Many hunters wisely leave part of their hunting land as a so called safety zone for deer. These areas often offer excellent opportunities for the hunter during the last few weeks.

Food Sources

At the end of the season, the bucks will again be focusing on food. These food source areas will be primary deer hunting locations.

The hunter should try and locate as many feeding areas as possible. In many cases, the bucks will bed in thick cover not far from food.

Search for remaining farm crops, especially those in isolated out of the way areas. There also may be a few acorns or apples left.

In any event, finding the available food in the area will produce the best chances at harvesting a late season buck.

Finding breeding areas, thick cover, and food sources are keys to end of season bucks.

Late Season Deer Hunting

Deer hunting during the late season is often considered less successful by many hunters. The logic is that the early seasons and the rutting periods are the best times for hunting. However, it is important to remember that there will be deer left over from the previously mentioned times and some of them will be mature bucks.

There are a couple of keys to finding success during the late season. The first is being able to find high quality food sources. These may be in the form of field crops or man made food plots. The deer will be seeking out these areas to replenish their bodies from the rutting periods as well as to make it through the winter months. Finding the high energy foods will result in locating the deer.

The next key is finding isolated areas or areas that have not had a lot of pressure put on the deer. Often this requires the hunter to move deeper into the property away from normal hunting locations. However, another suggestion would be to maintain farms or other areas that are to be hunted only during the late season. This way the areas are fresh for the last few weeks of the season.

By locating or maintaining late season food sources  and hunting isolated or places that have not been pressured, the hunter improves on the chances of harvesting a late season deer.

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Handling Buck Fever

Defining And Symptoms Of Buck Fever

Buck fever is a term used by deer hunters that relates to becoming very nervous upon seeing or attempting to harvest a deer. Symptoms of buck fever include uncontrollable shaking, muscle pains or weakness, heavy breathing, a pounding heart beat, and an extreme feeling of mental pressure.

Mental Focus

To counteract these feelings, the hunter must learn to focus mentally and to control the emotions. Think positive, breath normally, and focus on the task at hand. There will be plenty of time after the shot for emotions to run wild.

  • Focus – Picture in your mind making a good clean and accurate shot on the deer. This should be done not only when the attempt occurs, but also prior to and throughout the season. In a way you rehearse the events which helps prepare when the event happens.
  • Positive Thinking – As with focus, positive thinking should take place prior to hunting conditions. Repeated positive thinking can improve on performance and allow the hunter to focus better.
  • Breathing – To help control breathing, take long deep breathes and hold in for a few seconds before releasing slowly. This will also aid in the shakes and heart beat.

Practise Shooting

Regardless of the weapon to be used, repeated and consistent shooting skills will help ease buck fever. Shooting in the off season as well as throughout the deer season is required. This will prepare the body mentally and physically. Practise should be done under conditions similar to those found in the field. Place targets at different ranges and angles.

Add pressure to the practise by using a timer or have a friend tell you when and where to shoot. Work towards a five second rule, meaning from the word go to the actual shot is no more than five seconds long. The added pressure simulates deer hunting conditions and allows for better focus and attention.

There will always be some nervousness or excitement related to buck fever. However, maintaining composer through mental focus, breathing, and practising will help reduce and control the emotions.

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Adapting To Deer Activity

For most hunters, the deer hunting season begins with high expectations. Stand locations have been predetermined through scouting or previous experiences. However, hunters can have a let down if they fail to adapt to deer activity.

Although deer hunting sometimes goes according to plans, often there are times when the deer do not react as anticipated. This requires the hunter to rethink his game plan and be willing to adjust tactics in order for success.

The key here is being able to interpret current deer sign and activity. It is also important to be open minded and not be stubborn when it comes to deer hunting. Accept the fact that there are many things beyond the hunters control that will affect deer movement.

Weather, available food sources, cover, hunting pressure, and the deer rutting period are just a few factors that will affect deer activity.

To stay in the game, hunters should continue scouting and monitoring deer movement throughout the entire season. In doing so, one will be able to locate and set up according to where the most active deer sign occurs.

Adapting to changing conditions while in the field will greatly improve the chances for success.

Keep Deer Hunting Areas Fresh

Deer hunting a specific area of property often is most successful on the first few hunts. This is simply because the area id fresh and undisturbed. The deer have not been pressured and to a degree are caught off guard.

Regardless of the size of the property, it is best as a hunter to break the land into sections. Leave an area, or several areas if possible, alone and not do any hunting on it or at least wait until the deer rut or other prime times that offer the best chances of success.

This will be different depending upon how the property is set up. Some land is more suited for hunting during the deer rut while other land is more ideal to be hunted early or late season. This information can be gathered by monitoring deer activity in the given area.

If the property is large enough so that some of it can be left alone entirely, this will provide the deer with a safe zone. These areas will allow the deer to stay on the land without being disturbed.

This approach will often improve the hunting on the land. The reason is that the less pressure put on the deer, the more likely that the deer will be active during daylight hours.

Keeping the hunting areas fresh will keep the deer more relaxed. Since deer, especially mature bucks, are quick to go nocturnal when pressured, The less pressure a hunter puts on the land the better it will be.

No matter how well a hunter prepares for a hunt, repeated use of a specific area by the hunter will result in the deer avoiding the area. Scent, wind direction, noise, and using the same walking areas will only educate the deer and produce poor results.

Hunt smart, limit pressure, and keep the hunting areas as fresh as possible. By doing this in most cases the odds for success will greatly improve.

Expand Your Deer Hunting Area

There will be times throughout the deer hunting season that normal tactics dry up. This can be due to added pressure on the deer. This may be a change in deer behavior such as the beginning of the rut. It can also be related to changing food sources. When this occurs, it is time to expand the deer hunting area. Having a good knowledge of how the property is setup comes into play.

Pressured Deer

When the pressure increases, deer will often avoid normal travel areas and relocate. This does not mean that they will completely move out of the area. In most cases the deer will simply go deeper into the property. Look for places that are secluded and provide thick cover. Start by deer hunting the edges of these locations. After a few days, go deeper in small increments but be very careful not to over hunt or spook the deer.

Deer Food Sources

Another reason that the deer will change patterns is related to the available food sources. As the season progresses, there may be new field crops, nuts, fruits, browse, or other foods. The hunter must adjust accordingly and locate these foods.  Deer hunting near active food sources will keep the hunter in the game.

The Rut

When the rutting season begins, any previous patterns of deer movement goes out the window. Deer hunting the rut requires the hunter to pay close attention to doe activity. Being able to find the does will improve success as where the does are, the bucks soon will be. It is time to be aggressive and be ready to move at the sign of any rutting activity.

Sizing Up Deer Hunting Property

There are many different factors in sizing up the quality of individual deer hunting land. When deer season arrives, many hunters prefer to have as much land to hunt as possible. While quantity may be a good idea, land quality is more important. Here are a few tips for understanding the basics.

Large Tracts

The size of the property does not necessarily play an important role. Sure it is good to have hundreds or thousands of acres to hunt. Such size can offer a hunter many different opportunities. It may even influence confidence levels while thinking that more land means better chances at seeing deer.

Small Tracts

However, even small tracts of land have been known to out produce large ones. The key is where the land is positioned in relation to deer activity. I have taken and know of others that have taken nice bucks consistently on land as small as six acres. This land was a prime travel route between bedding and feeding areas.

Value To Deer

The best way to size up deer hunting land is to determine what value the land holds for the deer. This can be broken down into individual sections. Such as food, water, cover, travel, rutting period, hunting pressure, and hunting ability.

Cover

What type of cover does the land offer. Will it provide comfort and security for the deer. Is the land made up of hardwoods, thickets, swamps, tall grasses, or other type terrain that offers good places for deer to hide.These are all important factors concerning deer cover.

Food And Water

What types of food, if any, is available on the property. Will there be field crops, food plots, browse, acorns, or other mast type foods. Will there be a variety of deer food throughout the whole hunting season or will the land only provide food for deer in limited amounts.

Where will the deer seek watering needs. Are there creeks, rivers, or ponds on the land. Hydration is important sometimes even more so than the food. Deer need to rehydrate often.

Travel Routes

Another factor to consider is how the deer will use the property from a travel point of view. Large tracts of land will offer an abundance of travel routes. A small tract may only offer limited travel areas.

Rutting Period

The rutting period is a prime time to be deer hunting. Does the land offer good habitat for the rut. Are there secluded areas that does may use for breeding. What about deer signs such as rub lines or scrape lines.

Hunting Pressure

What type of hunting pressure will be in the area. Is the land large enough to provide numerous hunting locations when the pressure is high. Or is it only good for a limited basis. A small tract of land is often an excellent choice when surrounding areas are heavily pressured.

Hunting Ability

The final factor could be the most critical. Is the property set up to be hunted. Regardless of the previous factors, or how much deer sign, if the hunter can not safely, quietly, and effectively hunt the land, then it is of very little value.

Deer Sign Without Deer

Deer hunting areas that have an abundance of deer sign can appear to be great set up locations for hunters. However, just because the sign is there does not necessarily mean that it is the best place to hunt.

It may be that the area is only being used by the deer during the night time hours. Certainly it is better to hunt the area a few times, but if no activity is observed after several hunts, its probably best to relocate the tree stand.

After deer hunting the area without seeing deer, it is now time to begin using scouting techniques to determine a better set up location. Back track the area in 75-100 yard increments and reposition accordingly.

Continue this process of limited hunting and relocating until deer sightings occur. Generally this process will take the hunter to an area that is more suitable for daytime hunting.

Keep monitoring the previously hunted areas throughout the season, especially near the rutting period. If the deer sign remains fresh, these areas may become more effective later in the season.

Often these techniques will take the hunter deeper into the woods closer to bedding areas. Make sure to use a good scent controlling program to reduce being detected by the deer.

Remember that there may be several options when it comes to back tracking. Experiment with all directions that allow for a good wind directional set up. Don’t be afraid to move as deep as necessary to locate the deer.

See our other deer hunting tips articles.

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Deer Hunting Fresh Sign

Deer Hunting Tips – All throughout the deer hunting season, the deer will provide hunters with fresh signs of their activities. Finding such evidence is a key to continued success. A hunter must pay close attention in order to understand deer movement.

Food Sources

The available food sources will change as the deer hunting season progresses. Farm crops are often in abundance early on in the season. Later, the deer will gradually change to available fruits, acorns, and other browse. Knowledge of what food sources are available in a certain area at any given time is important to a hunter. A helpful approach is to figure out what food is in short supply. Deer will feed on these resources the earliest. Find the freshest food and find the deer.

Tracks And Trails

Locating and monitoring fresh tracks and deer trails will keep the hunter aware of where and when deer are using a particular area. It is also helpful in determining where deer are coming and going to or from. This information can be used to identify bedding or feeding areas. Obviously, the fresher the tracks and trails, as well as the frequency, will allow a hunter to make proper judgement on how to set up on deer.

Rubs And Scrapes

Rubs and scrapes are used by deer to announce presence, mark terrain, and to indicate signs of the upcoming breeding season. Finding an area that offers such sign will determine how to hunt the bucks. A single rub or scrape here and there generally will not provide much help to the hunter. However, locating an area that offers a line of rubs or an abundance of concentrated rubs may be worth the effort. The same goes with scrapes. Especially if the scrapes are frequently kept clean.

Deer Sightings

Don’t forget to factor in deer sightings. When deer are seen in a certain area more than once, it is a good indication that something is keeping them there. Whether it be a food source, bedding source, or travel area, seeing deer is the freshest sign a hunter can have. Regardless of what other sign is observed, a hunter should always at least make an effort to hunt an area with repeat sightings of deer.

Good luck, be safe, and enjoy your next  hunting experience.

Related Articles: Strategies and Tactics    Deer Hunting Tips

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3 Key Deer Hunting Strategies

Deer Hunting Tips- There are numerous techniques that can be used for hunting whitetails. From rubs and scrapes to watering holes and travel zones. But there are three key strategies that provide the basic foundation for the season.

Food

By far the most common factor during the entire season is the search for food. Regardless of the time of year, food more than any thing else dictates deer movement. Even during the rutting period, the hunter should spend as much time as possible monitoring and focusing on hunting the available food sources. Whether it be acorns, field crops, or other browse, find the food and find the deer.

Bedding

In most cases, deer bedding areas are generally located near the current food supply. Beds often are some where within a 250 yard range of the food. Depending on cover and pressure, beds may be within 25 yards. Locating the food source and back tracking the travel areas will provide information needed to find such bedding areas. Many times it is better to hunt the travel zones that lead away from the beds such as funnels, creek banks, or ditches. Hunt close but not too close to a bed.

Rut

The rut provides the hunter with a great chance at a mature buck harvest. Many hunters refuse to hunt any other time of the year. The sightings of bucks are considered more frequent during the rut. Bucks will be on the move more often searching for a receptive doe. The key to finding the bucks is to locate the does. This is when hunting a current food source comes back into play. The does will feed, the bucks will follow.

Take advantage of these deer hunting tips for continued success. Be safe, good luck. and enjoy your next hunting experience.

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