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End-of-Season Deer Tactics with J. Wayne Fears

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Many states have ended their deer seasons, but others are still going strong. Here are some strategies that will pay-off for you at the end of deer season.
 
Public Land Tactics:
An older sportsman once shared with me the secrets to taking elusive late-season bucks. "To take a nice buck in January on public lands, get into your tree stand long before daylight. Stay there until you take a buck or dark arrives." Then this veteran woodsman smiled each time he gave-up a secret on how to hunt late-season bucks on public lands. "Generally, only three types of hunters hunt the late season - the outdoorsman who hasn't bagged a buck, someone who has one more deer tag to fill and the trophy hunter who has about run out of time to take a monster-sized buck. Although these hunters have tremendous pressure on them to find and take bucks, they generally will spook more deer than they ever see. The first secret is when everyone else in the woods moves, climb into your tree stand and sit there all day. You'll be the only person not moving in the woods."
This hunter related his belief that his remaining on his stand while all the other hunters walked around or went up and down trees changing stand sites drove deer to him. The old hunter then suggested that an end-of-the-season hunter should take a stand in the thickest cover he could find - perhaps only where he could see for 20 or 30 yards. "You can expect to see bucks in the thickets just at first light when most of the other hunters are coming into the woods. Another time you'll spot bucks is in the middle of the day, when the hunters leave the woods to eat lunch, and the bucks move out of the thick cover to feed and breed and then return to the thick cover. Just at dark when hunters start to leave the woods, again the bucks will come from the heavy cover into more-open areas."
 
Private Land Strategies:
Hunting over green fields pays buck dividends during the first weeks of deer season, but then most of the bucks feed on green fields and meet does in these regions in the middle of the day and after dark, the safest times for them to frequent these fields.
 
Bucks in Weird Places:
In the South, hunters often discover end-of-the-season bucks in cotton fields - ideal deer hideouts - where no one thinks to look for deer during daylight hours. Deer everywhere also like small drainage ditches with brush on their edges in agricultural fields with no crops. A buck in a ditch often can see for 100 to 200 yards in all directions. Too, you may locate bucks in the last part of hunting season along roads leading to the hunting camp - perhaps even within 150 yards of the camp - and areas where trucks move through the woods or along the edges of woodlots.   Bucks soon learn vehicles pose no threat to their survival, and hunters seldom consider finding a trophy buck right behind a camphouse. One friend told me, "Our club had a dog pen with a briar thicket on its backside, 50-yards behind our clubhouse, where we kept the bird dogs and beagles we hunted with after deer season. One morning I got up before daylight and spotted an antler moving in that thicket, while I was sipping my coffee. I took my shotgun and walked behind the dog pen. Then the biggest buck I'd ever seen stood-up, looked at me and turned to run. The slug from my 3-inch Magnum found the target behind this buck's shoulder that we'd never seen on the property before."
 
Love on the Move:                
If you hunt in a state where the rut occurs during the late season, you'll find scrape hunting deadly effective on bucks looking for love, if you understand when to hunt what scrapes. Some bucks work their open scrapes like those along the edges of logging roads or fields only after dark and come looking for love in their thick-cover scrapes during daylight hours. Donald Spence of Mississippi, a very-successful veteran deer hunter, explains, "Most hunters spook the bucks they're trying to take when they hunt scrapes, because late-season deer go to their scrapes just at daylight. You must be on your stand watching the scrape before the sun comes up to bag these bucks. Also look behind your stand frequently, since a buck may come near a scrape and then circle downwind to try to pick up the smell of a doe close to the scrape."

You can learn more about how and where to hunt late-season bucks and other proven deer-hunting tactics that will take the biggest bucks in my "Ultimate Deer Hunter's and Land Manager's Pocket Reference," available at http://www.protoolindustries.net/products/j-wayne-fears-ultimate-deer-hu.... To bag these older-age-class, end-of-the-season bucks that have dodged hunters the entire season, break with traditional hunting methods.