Let's talk about late-season whitetail hunting strategies. When you get south of a certain point, you don't have as harsh of winter and the season is really spread out. In the South and in the East, we have some whitetail seasons that go all the way into February. But a whole lot of these places at least go to the end of January. And there's some very successful hunting that you can do in late January.
There are three main things that I think are important to note when you're considering late-season whitetail hunting strategies.
Late-Season Whitetail Hunting Strategy Number One
In the South, our rut patterns are not very well defined. They are not nearly what they are in the Midwest. There are lots of reasons for this, but it causes our deer to rut in cycles. And we get deer that are rutting and does that are being bred all the way into February and March.
That being said, you have to understand that you could experience rut activity at any time and be prepared for that. You may be hunting what is a more traditional late-season pattern - which is more food and bedding patterns - but all of a sudden have a hot doe in your area and experience tons of rut activity.
It's unpredictable, but that's an exciting part of late-season whitetail hunting. Especially down in the deep South. In these situations, having a grunt call, certain scents, and all those other things should probably be in your pack. Because it happens all the time in the South. Just randomly, you'll have a little short explosion of rut activity.
Strategy Number Two
The most common thing to consider about late-season hunting is that you kind of revert back to early-season tactics. Your deer have gone through a period of fall activity and now they're back on a bed-to-feed/feed-to-bed kind of pattern.
But it can be very different because the geography is a lot different. There's a lot less food. It's a lot more spread out. There's a lot less cover. The deer have been under a tremendous amount of stress, especially in your states that have these long seasons. Your deer have been under a tremendous amount of stress for two or three months.
So even though you are looking at food-to-bed/bed-to-food kind of pattern, it's a little bit different from the early-season. But you can lean on some of those strategies. The bucks are going to be looking to replenish. They’re going to have been running very hard for a while during the rut. The does are going to be bunched back up and be running together in larger doe groups.
Also, keep in mind deer's crepuscular tendencies - moving late and early and in the dark. All those things are going to come back into play. But you need to factor in the fact that they're going to have to move further to find food unless you're providing it for them, and they're going to be under a lot more stress than they were when you hunted them on that feed-to-bed/bed-to-feed kind of pattern in the early season.
Strategy Number Three
The third thing I'll say about late-season whitetail hunting is you have to mentally prepare for it. The weather patterns make it more difficult to sit in. It's usually colder. There's no greenery. There's no browse. Just dead and cold.
And as far as activity goes, everything can be really, really dead one day, and then the next you hit the right food source and see a ton of deer. Or you get that one hot doe on that little late flurry of rut activity. But then you can also sit for days on end and it feels like the woods are completely dead.
You have to be mentally prepared to put in some time and you have to commit to it. But if you do, it can be some of the best and most successful hunting you will do in the entire whitetail season. SKRE has come up with a bundle designed specifically for late-season whitetail hunters, so make sure to get one for your gear setup!