Late Season Deer Hunting Tips & Tactics From The Pros

Late Season Deer Hunting

Okay, be honest, how many of you that live in States or Provinces that have late deer hunting season have forgotten about deer hunting?

If you’re like I used to be, you’re probably thinking about the upcoming fishing season or you’re hunting Small Game and Waterfowl.

But you could be missing out on the best time to take a good buck.

The truth is most hunters give up deer hunting after the second weekend.

When I hunted in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, they had something like a 21 day gun season the best I recall. After the second weekend, the woods were empty! It’s like I had them all to myself.  If you saw anyone during the late bow season, they were probably lost!

When I lived in Oklahoma, ‘back in the day’, there was a 9 day rifle season at the end of November. December was a late archery season.

It wasn’t until I started hunting in the late season that I found the deer easier to pattern and easier to kill.

Here are some late season deer hunting tips I learned along the way.

 

Sleep in

I spent many a frozen morning in my stand waiting on deer. Most of the time, this was wasted time and there were times I was so cold I had to call it quits. I once read an article by the late Ben Lee where he said deer bed up until mid-morning because they don’t like to feed on frozen vegetation. I think that’s true!

Also, the mornings are cold and deer know if they wait, it will warm up. They know they can reserve body heat by waiting to feed later in the day. Besides, these are the best excuses I can come up with for sleeping in!

Practice shooting in your winter clothes

Whether you’re shooting a bow, muzzleloader or modern rifle(or shotgun), practice in the clothes you’ll be wearing. Bulky clothes can make you shoot differently than the same clothes you had on when you sighted your weapon in.

Bowstrings are notorious for catching on bulky clothes and guns seem to get snagged on the extra clothes as your raising them to shoot.

You may also want to think about reducing the poundage on your bow. It’s hard to pull a heavy poundage bow when your muscles are cold!

Don’t forget your rutting techniques

During the late season there is a “secondary” rut. Not as noticeable as the first, but enough to make the bucks go bonkers. The secondary rut is for the Does who did not get bred the first time around.

From what I can tell, the secondary rut is also drawn out. So you may see Bucks chasing Does anytime during the late season. Give your rattling antlers and deer calls a try this time of year.

It’s all about the food

In late season, Deer need food and lots of it to maintain their body heat and survive the Winter. Bucks will be trying to put on some fat before the hardest part of Winter hits as will the Does. This is why it’s the easiest season to hunt in my opinion.

Find a good food source, find the trails leading into these food sources and sit back and wait for the right Deer!

The South will rise again

If you’re into still hunting or stand hunting bedding areas, look on the South slopes or areas facing South. These areas warm quicker and sooner than in other areas.

You’ll find your Deer here working on their tans and staying warm.

Hunt the fronts

Cold fronts seem to affect Deer movement more in the late season than at any other time in my experience. Deer will really be up and feeding heavy a few days prior to the arrival of a cold front and the days following a cold front.

Also in my experience, it seems the amount they’re up and moving is also dictated by how severe the front is. Weird, but that’s been my experience. They seem to “sense” whether or not the approaching front is a “weather maker.”

Dress for success

When the temperature plummets, it’s time to break out the cold weather clothes. I still prefer wool clothing on those days with the exception of my Windbreaker coat.

I have a friend who swears by the Arctic Shield line of clothes. Whatever you wear, remember to dress in layers.

One December I was hunting before the arrival of a major front. The day was really, really cold. It was one of those days when the Sun was out, but you’d thought that it had lost all the heat.

It was like the Sun was just making an appearance for the heck of it. No warmth was coming out of that big orange ball on this day!

I had taken my camo sleeping bag and put it on while in my treestand. It was one of the warmest late season hunts I’d ever had! (I don’t recommend this, however, if you do use it, make sure you use a safety belt if you’re hunting from a treestand)

Fuel the fire

On late season hunts, I bring along some water, sometimes Coffee and high energy snacks. Keeping your tummy full will help you stay warm during the day.

Think safety

Before climbing into your stand, make sure there is no ice. Ditto for treesteps if you’re using them. I take a piece of carpet and lay over the seat and platform to keep the snow and ice off of these areas.

Use lighter colored camo

Remember, there are few leaves on the tree now and you’ll most likely be outlined against the sky when a Deer looks up. I switch to either a Winter camo pattern or an Urban-type camo as both are not as dark and stark.

Muzzleloaders only

If you plan on using a muzzleloader, keep it outside. Taking a muzzleloader from a nice warm home or vehicle into frigid air will cause condensation to form in the barrel. Even if you snap a few caps the moisture is likely to come back.

This affects those who are still using traditional blackpowder more than those who are using modern primers and black powder substitutes.

There you go. You State’s Deer season may still be underway. Get out there after them! It’s my favorite time to hunt deer!

 

Scouting for Deer in the Summer

SCOUTING FOR DEER IN THE SUMMER

I have to admit, as I get older, it’s getting harder and harder to think about scouting for deer when it’s 100 degrees outside.

I’m usually thinking of my next fishing trip or how high my electric bill will be! I’ll bet that many of you are the same way, whether you’re old or young!

Advantages To Scouting for Deer in the Summer

There is pretty much two worlds of thought about scouting for deer in the Summer. Some believe that it does no good, believing any bucks you might see will be long gone come October or November.

Others believe scouting for deer in the Summer is helpful because it will show you what quality of bucks you’ll have come fall.

In my opinion, both trains of thought are right and wrong. Allow me to voice my opinion.

In years past when I scouted heavily for Deer in the Summer, I knew that most of the Bucks I saw would be gone by early Fall.

Bucks just will not hang out in bachelor groups all year long. Especially the younger ones. They seem to wear out their welcome among the other Deer pretty quick!

So they disband and go their separate ways. Many will not see each other again unless it’s in one hunter’s freezer.

I’ve found this to be especially true if there are a lot of Does around. It seems the Does know that these little Bucks will be pestering them relentlessly in a few months and they try and run them off.

In areas with few does, I’ve found that the little Bucks will hang around longer, sometimes right up to the gun Deer season.

Big Bucks are a whole ‘nother story.

Simply put, they’re unpredictable year round. If you see a large buck in your back yard all Summer long, chances are he’ll be gone in Sept. or October.

Other times, I’ve watched big Bucks in fields and pipeline and power line right-of-ways and those bucks were still hanging around the general area come to the rut.

Many hunters who hang out scouting cameras wonder where the big Bucks they see in the Summer have gone when it comes hunting season.

Truth is, they’re out partying with the girls! Or trying to find girls to party with.

It seems that the more remote the areas I scout and find big Bucks, the more likely it is they’ll be hanging around when Gun season rolls around. But when you’re talking big Bucks, nothing is written in stone.

They may get hit by a car or die of natural causes. They may get whipped by a stronger buck and be forced to leave their core area. They may wake up one morning and feel pressured to leave by who knows what and they beeline out of the country. Big Deer have a mind of their own.

I’m always amazed at how cautious the big Bucks are even in the dead of Summer. They’re generally the last ones to exit cover and the first ones back in. It’s like they never relax entirely. The bigger they are, the more cautious they are. They didn’t get those big ole racks by being smart only during hunting season!

Where to Start Looking For Summertime Bucks

You have to remember one thing when looking for Summertime Bucks. They’re carrying around antlers on their heads that are covered with velvet that has millions of nerve endings and blood vessels in them. They know they have to protect their velvet from bugs and things that might scuff up their headgear.

They prefer to stay in semi-open terrain where there are breezes to keep the bugs and branches to a minimum.

I find many bucks in the same general area as Does during the Summer. Fields are a great place to glass in the mornings and evenings.

My favorite places to search for Summer Bucks are pipeline and power line right of ways. This is true especially if I’m scouting a new area or want to see what quality of Bucks the current area holds.

In some states, you can actually spotlight Deer at night. Just be sure to check your local regulations before doing this!

Summertime scouting for deer also gives you the chance to pattern the Does. Chances are they’ll stick around the entire year. It helps to try and learn their patterns as well.

Of course, as the food sources change, so will the patterns. In agriculture areas, those patterns don’t seem to change as much as they do in Deep Woods. Keep that in mind when you’re scouting your hunting area.

Don’t overlook watering holes. Although Whitetail Deer don’t water like Cattle, in arid regions, especially as the Summer temps rise, they’ll visit watering holes a lot more often than people think.

I’ve actually watched Does playing in an old Slough one year while Squirrel hunting. So expect the unexpected.

Is Summer Time Scouting Worthless For Hunting Season?

I’ve heard some people say that you’re wasting your time scouting in the Summer. This isn’t exactly true. If you only hunt the Gun Season or Late Season, then there might be some truth to this.

In States that have early hunting Seasons, Summer scouting can allow you to pattern and kill a Buck before some Hunters even start thinking about putting stands out.

The bachelor groups will still be around in August and even early September in most places. This gives early Season Hunters a chance to pattern and take the Buck of their choice before he goes bonkers and heads out to parts unknown.

The more you get out and learn what the Deer are doing in your hunting area do under certain times and conditions, the more you’re likely in the right place at the right time. Don’t ignore scouting for Deer in the Summer, it can be a great time to get out before the Season and see what your hunting area has to offer.

Best Low Cost Trail Cameras for Hunting

Best Low Cost Trail Cameras for Hunting

How do I pick a Trail Camera?

Our #1 goal is to help you pick the absolute perfect trail camera for your particular situation. Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a sportsman, a wildlife researcher, or just trying to catch a vandal; we are here to help.

This “First Time” Trail Camera Buyer’s Guide will provide a quick overview of what to look for in these trail cameras. If at any time, you have questions and want to talk to someone in person, feel free to Contact Us. We look forward to helping you with your trail camera needs!

The first thing you will need to know is there are tons of cameras out there. Many of them excel in one area but under-perform in another. Knowing the situation in which you will place your camera can play a crucial part in picking your “perfect” camera.

After reading this guide, I would highly recommend going through the Trail Camera Selection Guide. It will walk you through, step by step, the different criteria you may or may not be interested in. At the end of the test, it will give you the camera (s) that matches your criteria. It essentially finds the perfect camera for your needs.

Detection Circuits

The detection circuit of a trail camera is what detects the animal. Cameras detect based off of a combination of heat and motion. The better detection circuits will produce more pictures of wildlife or people, the poor detection circuits will miss a lot of activity and produce minimal pictures.

Detection circuits consist of:

  • Trigger Time Detection Zone
  • Detection Width
  • Detection Range
  • Recovery  Time

Trigger Time

Trigger time is the amount of time a camera takes to snap a picture once the object has entered the detection zone. In general, quicker trigger speed is an indicator of a higher quality camera.

However, not every person needs a quick trigger speed. If you are putting the camera on a feeder or bait station, where the animal is expected to hang around for a while, a quick trigger is not necessary.

Conversely, If you are putting the camera on a game trail, or using for security, you need a quick trigger speed in order to snap a picture before the animal/person leaves.

We use a device called The Triggernator that scientifically and accurately tests the trigger speeds of any camera trap. If you would like to view the trigger times from the different cameras, read the Trigger Speed Showdown.

Detection Zones

Every camera trap has a Detection Zone. A Detection Zone is an area in front of the camera that the game camera is “monitoring.”

When an animal or person steps into the detection zone, a picture will be taken shortly thereafter (how long depends on how fast the trigger speed!).

The two factors that determine the detection zone are Detection Width and Detection Range.

Detection Width

Game Cameras have anywhere from a 5-degree beam up to a full 90-degree detection zone. At 30′ this varies anywhere from narrow 3′ horizontal detection width all the way up to a monstrous 60′ wide detection width.

Detection Range

The furthest distance at which a scouting camera is able to detect motion. Distances range from 30′ on the low end to out past 100′. If you want to put a camera on a food plot and cover a huge amount of area, you need a game camera with a wide detection width and long detection range.

For comprehensive data on Detection Zones, please review our Detection Zone Test.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is the amount of time a camera takes to capture a photo, store that photo to memory and then re-arm itself for the next photo opportunity.

Some cameras will only take a picture every 30 or 60 seconds. These cameras will work on a feeder/bait station, but not on a fast moving game trail.

If you want to see everything that is walking down a game trail, you need a camera that recovers quickly. If you want the best recovery time, Reconyx trail cameras recover in just 1/2 second.

Conclusion on Detection Circuits

Every year, we do our trademark test to determine which cameras have the best Detection Circuits. The test combines trigger speeds, detection zones and recovery time.

If you would like to see which camera companies scored the highest, you need to review the Trail Camera Shootout.

Quality of Picture

The first thing to know is that megapixel ratings are the LAST thing you should look for in a camera. Many companies trick you by listing a high Mpxl, but in reality they use an extremely low quality lens which makes the quality of the picture average or even below average.

The only way to define quality of picture is to look at sample pictures (and then decide yourself).

Picture Quality

Before you purchase a camera, you need to be aware of what the pictures from that camera trap look like. We obviously test and review nearly every camera out there and one of the biggest tests revolves around putting a camera in the woods and seeing exactly what it does.

Our collection of trail camera pictures will give you an excellent representation of the quality of picture to expect from each model.

You can also view our customer photos for both educational and entertainment value!

Infrared vs. Incandescent

Does the camera use a standard incandescent flash or infrared flash? Incandescent will give you color night photos, but is also subject to spooking some game.

Infrared is color daytime and black and white at night but does not spook the game (normally).

Flash Range

Flash range is the distance at which a camera’s flash is able to capture a discernible image at night. Some models tested were incapable of reaching past 15′ while others worked out to 80’+.

  • Good Flash Range (60ft)
  • Poor Flash Range (10 ft.)

To see sample night pictures, please visit the Flash Range Test.

Battery Life

Battery life is often overlooked until you have been using the camera for some time. If you make the wrong decision, your camera could cost you a small fortune in the future.

If you make the right decision, (buying a camera with good battery life and using rechargeable batteries) batteries will be the least of your concern.

We are huge advocates of NiMH Rechargeable batteries. Why?

  1. They save you bushels of money in the long run (check out this chart for proof).
  2. They increase your battery life in the cold winter months.
  3. Fewer batteries in the landfills = cleaner environment for you and your kids

We include battery life information in all of our trail camera reviews. You may also want to read our article about Nimh, Lithium and Alkaline batteries.

Security Options

When you go to retrieve your photos, will your camera still be there?

Much like batteries, this is something that is often overlooked until it is too late. If you plan on putting your camera in an area that receives traffic from anybody but you, do yourself a favor and lock your camera up.

To view security options for all the different camera traps, please visit Security Devices for Trail Cameras.

Putting it all together…

A great resource, if you haven’t already been there, is our Trail Camera Shootout. The Shootout gives you the raw data for determining which cameras have good detection circuits. If you want to read more on the different tests we perform, or to compare and see how the cameras stack up to each other, visit our Trail Camera Tests.

This will help explain many of our testing procedures and will have tons of information to familiarize yourself with how the cameras work and which ones outperform their competitors.

Also, if you would like to see which camera is right for you, complete our Trail Camera Selection Guide. Enter your preferences and find out which camera matches your needs!

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