It’s getting late in the season, seemingly a good time to ignore the alarm clock or use the “I have to watch this football game” excuse. Hey, if your heart’s not in it any longer, then so be it. Life is too short to do anything forced.
However, for those of us who are determined to tough it out until the final buzzer, you know it’s that time of season when the woods are largely devoid of deer movement and the only activity seems to take place at night. Yet we still hoist our packs, don some cold weather gear and head out. There’s something special about folks like you and me that entertain periods of a certain sporadic behavior that top-notch psychologists couldn’t possibly explain. Like glancing out a north-facing window on a winter’s day where an approaching dark mass of clouds causes you to drop everything and go freeze your tail off in the stand. That sort of thing.
Watch the Weather
At the head of cold fronts deer will be moving to food sources. The beans are likely fertilizer by now, but standing corn and winter wheat should be available. Hunker down and wait. Deer, especially bucks, burn a lot of energy during the rut, even laying down on cold days keeps the motor running. Be waiting at the spots where they like to refuel.
Keep Trail Cameras Active
Many of us run trail cameras throughout the summer then take them down. This is understandable in the sense that it’s never a good idea to tromp into bedding areas during primetime. Keep your trail cameras deployed throughout hunting season in places like food plots where you’re seeing signs of activity. There doesn’t need to be a pile of corn or a mineral lick over which to hang them. They’ll just serve as an extra set of eyes while you’re away.
Use a Decoy
Deer decoys work well during the pre rut and rut, but aren’t often considered as a valuable tool when the chasing dies down. There are two scenarios in which you may find it beneficial to use a decoy. One, there’s a few bucks cruising for one last doe in heat. Two, you’re on the move, watching big fields from a vantage point and may need some cover when the stalk begins.
Hunt the Unobvious Obvious Places
How many times have you heard of big bucks being killed in a half-acre woodlot? That’s because a half-acre woodlot is not a place we’d likely hunt. And if we don’t hunt there, then a wily old buck won’t feel so bad about using it as his bed. Sometimes it’s the unlikely draw in an easy-to-access place that yields the biggest bucks in the post rut.
Conduct a Drive
Speaking of those unlikely draws, put together a small drive to see what comes out. On cold mornings in the post rut, bucks will lay down at the tops of draws where they can watch their back trail and get warm in the sunshine. Place the hunter near escape routes while you walk slowly through, periodically clapping your hands and making noise. If you walk too quickly, a big buck will let you move on past then slip out the way you came in. Leave no stone unturned.