By now, you’ve likely spent an entire season perched up in a tree waiting on that hit-list buck that never showed. Now it’s late-season and you’re tired of freezing your buns off sit after sit. You’re seeing deer, but you just can’t close the deal and it’s darn right frustrating!
Here are a few last-ditch efforts that may prevent you from eating tag soup this season.
1 – Don’t be Shy – Call to Them
I don’t know why, but for some reason many hunters only carry their deer calls with them during the rut. What, do you think that’s the only time deer communicate with each other? While the rut may give you the best chance to call one in, it’s not the only time you can call. If you see a buck out of range, give him a grunt or two and see how he responds. If he continues on his way showing little interest, hit him with a snort wheeze. Calling works best when you’re situated near heavy cover or using a decoy like we talk about next.
2 – Death via Decoy
Hunting over large feeding areas can drive a hunter CRAZY! Every night you see a pile of deer, but you just can’t figure out how to get them within range. Here’s an idea, use a decoy or even two! In most cases, deer like to feed near each other for safety reasons. If you’ve got the first two deer out in the field, a lot of times the others will naturally want to work their way over to them. As they do, they give you the perfect chance to release an arrow. A doe and/or buck decoy in the feeding position is best. Having a decoy of some sort will also give a visual representation if you decide to use a call.
3 – Become One with Nature – Ground Attack
Throwing on some snow camo and hitting the ground is one of my favorite ways to switch up my late-season approach. You have now eliminated the biggest disadvantage of treestand hunting by becoming a mobile hunter. I reserve this type of hunting style until the snow flies. Snow keeps things quiet, makes deer more visible, and it just feels like you blend in more as a hunter. I’m not much of a tracker since the properties I typically hunt are small, but I have had success posting up behind a deadfall or big tree and waiting for the deer to pass. Nice thing here is that you don’t need to rely on finding that perfect treestand tree and can set up on either side of a trail depending upon what wind you have.
4 – Get Them Up and Moving – Bow Drive
Sometimes you’ve just got to try something crazy to kill a late-season buck. Why not try and do a deer drive? Sure, you can’t blast five rounds off at a running deer, but you never know what his escape route may be. Get a couple of buddies together and have them do a slow quiet push with the wind to their backs. The idea is to let the wind drift into that big buck’s bedding area before he hears the danger. This will typically keep him from bolting, but still gets him to move in the opposite direction towards the hopeful poster(s).
Sometimes, you just got to pull out all the stops to tag a late-season bruiser, come hell or high water.