If you are anything like myself and countless thousands of other deer hunters, the last day of deer season is a terrible day! Knowing that there is nearly a year to go out and pursue your quarry can be a bit sad to say the least! But for many deer hunters deer season really never ends !
There Is always something to do if you deer hunt!
Deer season may very well end where harvesting game goes, but the pursuit is best looked at as a year round venture that the most successful hunters use this time to stack the odds in their favor for the beginning of the following deer season!
Here we will, share some ideas that come from myself and others who utilize their time to the best practices of preparing for the next hunt!
The truth that the season never ends is something that falls on deaf ears with many deer hunters. They assume that it’s simply time to change gears and start doing something else till next fall once sun sets on the last day. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
As we move forward in this article you will learn what the most successful hunters do once it is time to hang your gun or bow up for the next several months. If you start your own regiment, you too will become more successful and harvest more game the next time you pick that rifle or bow back up.
We will cover subjects that are simple yet overlooked or ignored, such as:
- Post season scouting
- Shed hunting
- Prepping food plots
- Moving and hanging stands
- Practice with your weapon
Post season scouting
Perhaps the most important of the above list is post season scouting!
You don’t get a chance in the fall to scout and pattern what deer movements will be like when the deer are pressured and seem to underground in the last phase of deer season. But getting out there and putting in the leg work after the season will open some eyes when you are trying to put your eyes on deer late in the next season!
I really like to scout one day a week immediately after the season and continue for about a month.
During these times I am not concerned with buck sign in nearly the same way I am during the fall.
My main attention is to determine where the deer corridors are when the pressure is on and deer movement in general. This is far easier when you aren’t concerned with bumping deer because you have several months before your stealth really matters again.
One of my favorite tactics during this time includes walking creek banks and fence lines! I like this method because it gives you a really good way to cover the most ground and determine the most effective way to determine the travel routes of deer when foliage is thinned and the pressure is on!
I walk the creek banks to find the best crossings. once those crossings are found I like to track them in both directions from that crossing!
If I find for instance that this trail moves between the thickest parts of the property and an agricultural field, I can get a really good idea when the deer are mostly using these travel corridors. This is helpful to set stands that are intended for hunting late season. You can feel more confident in the results you find because you can determine where the sun will be in relation to the stand site as well as usual wind patterns.
It’s much easier to set late season stands when it’s actually late season because you don’t have to worry about such things as ticks and snakes when it’s cold outside !
Try to develop a plan for your late season scouting and make your hunting time more productive while most hunters are simply sitting in the woods !
Here in the south-eastern United States, Shed hunting isn’t nearly as popular as it is in the Midwest and northern states, but it should be!
Shed hunting is a surefire way to determine travel corridors of bucks in late winter months as well as determining how many and which bucks survived the previous deer season !
In these days I don’t find myself shed hunting as much as I used to because I get some really good information through the use of my trail cameras! But I still try to get out there a couple of times during shed season because there is still nothing that compares to being able to find sheds and put your hands on them!
I would recommend that shed hunting be a part of every hunters yearly practice, because even if you have trail cameras and food plots, it is still great to get outdoors and put in some effort towards what you love to do! It does something really cool for my mood during these cold and bleak months!
A great time to prep for food plots !
There are areas of the country that see the ground frozen during this time and it limits some efforts that are a part of prepping food plots. That is usually not the case in Warner climate states.
Those winter months are a fantastic time to gather soil samples and determine what you plot sites will need. If you need lime, you can’t put it in the ground when you plant the food plots so winter is a great time to do it!
Some of my best food plot results have come because of doing a light plowing with lime in the winter months!
It’s not uncommon to see me making passes on my ATV with my Ground Hawg Max plow just to turn the soil and mix in some lime and fertilizer!
Of course, you wouldn’t want to be plowing in winter food plots during this time, but there are other things that you can do to those winter plots as well, even if it is merely a winter fertilizer mix or clearing sticks and such.
These winter months are also one of two times per year that I work on mineral sites.
The deer aren’t using the mineral sites at this time of year, so it makes it easier to lay down minerals and let them leach into the ground. Then you can return in the spring and freshen it up.
By allowing some time for minerals to leach into the ground, you create a better digging and holding mineral site that lasts for a much longer time ! The second time I freshen up the mineral sites is when I place a camera in them to begin monitoring deer movement and start seeing the bucks as they put on their antlers.
Moving and hanging stands
Winter is by far my favorite time to move or hang tree stands !
It’s nice to be outside doing the hard work when it’s cold or at least cool outside! Not to mention that the snakes and ticks here in the south-east are at bay!
I’m sure you have decided to move a tower stand in October before, but you can’t because you don’t want to disturb the woods. Late winter is the ideal time to relocate that permanent stand and not have to worry about bumping deer! The new stand or location will have time for the wildlife to get used to it before next season as well!
Changing a stand, or blind location in the winter months is my favorite method and time for the reasons listed above, but also because I do most of my scouting with cameras.
Cameras give me the opportunity to keep up with the late season/ winter deer movements without spooking deer, leaving scent trails and otherwise disturbing the area. If those stands are moved during the late summer and early fall period, the impact on deer can be very much disruptive!
If I discover new buck sign locations or travel corridors during the late summer or early fall I usually try to position a more portable stand to help with the human impact just before hunting season.
The tactics I use are forever changing and evolving, but no matter what tactics you are using a plan is far better than winging it. And a plan to move and add tree stands is a tactic I have found to be far more beneficial in the winter months, just after the season has ended!
Practice, Practice, Practice !
The best result I have gotten from becoming a part-time bow hunter has been enormous to the way I scout and hunt!
In the old days when I only hunted with a rifle, shotgun, or black powder, my hunting buddiies and myself may not practice with our weapons at all until a week or two before the season opened. But bow hunting changed all that for me!
Now I’m occasionally taking the time to practice with my bow throughout the year, and that has also moved into my firearms hunting as well! I love to shoot and after getting somewhat addicted to practicing with my bow I have also gotten in the habit of practicing with my firearms during the year as well.
There is nothing like getting your rifle or muzzle loader sighted in a few days before the season opener, only to find that there is a problem and you only have a couple of days to find a solution!
The same thing happens to us all and I’m sure that you have some war stories from the grind of getting ready for the season too!
I pulled my trusty rifle out and found that my bullet inventory was low. I ordered some ammo and went to the range with only a hand full of ammo. This had never been an issue before so I really didn’t think much of it this time, except it was a problem this time and I only had a few days to address it.
I shot pretty much all the ammo I had on hand for my .270 WSM and had an issue that was causing my groups to be very erratic at 100 yards! It wasn’t like I wasn’t happy with a 4-inch group at 100 yards. It was more like I could only keep half my rounds on paper at that distance!
I eventually found that there was an issue with my scope, and was a terminal issue at that!
I hurried to the local sporting goods store that was an hour away and bought a new Vortex Diamondback scope. But with the ammo I had ordered still a few days out and only one more day of range time, I had to change bullet brands so that I could buy a couple of boxes to take to the range.
Getting the rifle set up was a breeze! I love the Vortex optics and became a fan instantly! But later that season I shot at a buck that was easily my biggest to date, and despite finding good blood at the beginning, it stopped and I never found the deer!
Was it the bullets? I really don’t know. But I do know that I had not had that issue with the bullets I had shot to that point, and the new scope was still driving tacks! Being the second guessing king, I still relive that shot and the haphazard way that I prepared for the season!
To this day I still send at least 4 boxes of ammo down range over the summer and stay in touch with my bow on a regular basis. It may happen the next time afield, but since I have adopted my practice regimen and gotten back to my preferred bullet combination, I haven’t had another deer that wasn’t recovered.
I would love to hear about your tactics for firearms and archery practice in the comments!
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this article about post season deer hunting activities to better your chances!
If you have comments, suggestions or other feedback I would appreciate it if you would leave them in the comments section below! Your feedback helps me to better help others with my articles!