Well, another opening day of rifle season has come and gone. All the deer camps have been packed up, everyone brags about who got the biggest deer, and mothers are covering the eyes of their innocent children as they drive by the local buck pole. This year, more than half a million hunters hit the woods on opening day. So, no matter how stealthy you think you are, the deer have definitely noticed that they are not the only ones tromping through the woods anymore, which can change their habits greatly. This can make it very challenging for late season hunters to get their shot at a trophy. However, it is possible, and here a few tips to help you connect with your late season buck.
Thick is good. I have said it before but it can become even more beneficial to hunt the thick areas of the woods after rifle season. The deer are typically a lot more skittish in the late season and don’t feel as safe, which means they tend to hang out in the thicker cover. Here they feel safe until nightfall, when they move out to feed.
Get rid of the bait. I have said this before, but after opening day of rifle season it becomes even more important. Most hunters in the woods on opening day are hunting on bait. So, after rifle season, the deer are conditioned (thanks to Ms. Neyer I know what that word means) to know that bait piles = danger. It is best to hunt where they are naturally traveling to get to bedding areas/ feeding areas. Now, you might go out to your hot spot from October where you would see deer every night, and not see a single one. With so much new commotion in the woods, this can knock deer off their normal patterns. They can completely change where they are during the day, in order to adjust to the new hunters being in the area. I always go out right after rifle season to scout again for where the freshest deer sign is.
Stay the extra hour. This tactic can be very rewarding for getting big bucks, especially during late rifle season. Quite often, if there are lots of hunters in the woods, after the sun comes up, the deer will find a thicket and bed down and sometimes just lay in that one spot all day! Well, when it comes to be about 10:00 a.m. most of the hunters will pack it up and head back to the truck. This can be a golden opportunity for you, if you stay for a while after the rest of the hunters leave. With all the other hunters walking through the woods, they often kick up the deer that typically would be bedded down all day and force them to move around, sometimes kicking them up to right in front of you!
Use these tips to get that big swamp donkey you have been after, because remember, even if you haven't gotten him before opening day, all hope is not lost!