The final month of the year brings about some big changes for the whitetail herds. They’re recovering from the first period of heavy rut. The bucks are resting often and saving what fat reserves for energy. Nearly half of the doe herd has been bred by this time of the season and their focus will be to take advantage of whatever food sources remain available to them as the season slips around to winter’s fasting.
So, what are a few things that we should do to intercept the bucks during their brief periods of activity. One thing is to get in tight, near the bedding areas. Be remarkably careful of the wind directions as you make your approach. One errant wind on the back of your neck, and mister buck will be slipping out of the area as quickly and quietly as he can. Once in place, try tending grunts on an adjustable grunt tube and keep the tone mild, as if portraying a young buck sniffing after an overlooked, hot doe.
Another thing I do is focus on the food sources. Acorns have been dropping for months now, but there are a few species of oak that drop their acorns late; such as the blackjack oaks. I like to slip into position along the downwind approaches to a blackjack thicket. There’s always plenty of cover in a blackjack thicket, which makes it hard for a ground-swatter like myself. But, it’s very much a great way to put yourself into close quarters with a buck.
One thing you don’t want to do, is to remain focused on the same tactics you’ve used thus far during the rut. As deer travel patterns evolve and change, we need to as well. Don’t be that guy who hangs a stand in September and hunts that same spot hunt after hunt. Mix it up and follow the sign to stay on the herd’s active patterns.
Another thing I try to avoid during December hunts is getting caught up in the early morning and late evening hunt patterns. All-day-hunts, I know, those take a toll on us, but all-day-hunts are highly recommended. These bucks have been hunted and understand how we come and go. They pattern us as we do them; the big boys know that most of the hunters will be leaving the woods at lunchtime. Use that to your advantage. The big bucks will get up and move around, if for no other reason than to stretch and loosen up some sore muscles.
As with any month, in the deer woods, it really pays to stick with it. Hunt long, hunt smart and just keep coming back for more. The most successful December deer hunters are also the ones putting in the most hours. You’re far less likely to kill one at home, nice and warm and comfortable.
As always folks, I really thank y’all for visiting with me here each week. If you have any stories to share or just a bit of feedback for me, I”ll be tickled to hear from you at [email protected] God Bless and good hunting!