As 2021 comes to an end, it signals the beginning of the end of deer season. A good many hunters have all but given up by the month of January. Some have already filled their quota of five, as established by our Florida Wildlife Commission, while others who were not so lucky will just give up and quit during this late season. It’s possible, they just don’t know how to hunt this time of the season, or they might have just gotten burnt out and lost motivation. Hunting in January can be tough, but I’d like to share a few ideas that might help you put that last-minute buck in your cooler.
The biggest thing to remember is that most deer will start to shift back into their pre-rut patterns during this last bit of the season. The heaviest periods of rut are now over, the majority of the does are now bred and the bucks have shifted their focus back to replenishing their bodies. This means food is once again the center of their attention.
During January, just like way back in September, if you can find the food sources, then you will surely find the deer. The problem is, they’ve most likely experienced quite a bit of pressure from hunters and have developed a pretty good idea of our hunting habits. You’ll hear a lot of theories why folks aren’t seeing deer, like, “they’ve gone nocturnal” or “they just aren’t feeding.”
Nocturnal? No, they just have learned to move when we aren’t there. We hunters get ourselves into morning and evening hunt patterns and the deer have picked up on that. So when do they move? While you’re out of the woods for lunch. With all of the newly fallen leaves on the trails, they hear you clearly as you come and go. That’s not just a theory I’ve come up with; look at the record books for the biggest bucks and you’ll see that a majority of them wise old fellows were taken right smack in the middle of the day. The best bet for success? Pack a lunch and a few bottles of water then plan an all-day sit.
If you can’t sit all day, consider at least hunting in the mornings. Why? Because as the season winds down, we hunters tend to get lazy and just don’t want to get out of bed early. We begin to sleep through our alarms and focus primarily on the evening hunts. Deer count on that and will take advantage of that first hour or so of daylight to get in a quick feed before bedding down.
One thing is for certain, they’re still going to get up and feed. “They’re just not feeding?” Does, beginning the gestational process and bucks recovering from the rut cycles are definitely going to be in search of food. Find the acorns, if you can, or identify other sources of browse to take advantage of. They will be cautious of any areas whereby they may feel too exposed, so move your stands back a good eighty or even a hundred yards downwind and you might find yourself in range of a good buck as he slips around, checking the wind to be certain it’s safe to approach.
My friends, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected] God Bless, Happy New Year and Good Hunting!