One of the best time of the season to hunt for trophy deer is after the more "laid-back" hunters hang up their guns for the year. They have returned to their homes hiding from the extreme cold and found a place on the couch where they can focus on the sports shows on the television until the ground thaws.
This is also the best time of the season because it is following the rut, when bucks get back to their normal routine. This does not necessarily take a long time, maybe a week or two after the regular gun season. When the deer get back to what deer do; eat and bed down. Once the winter unleashes its fury and there is a definite cold in the air and snow on the ground. If you can get this right combination, you are set for a great late season in the deer woods.
This provides the hunter with the perfect storm and allows us the opportunity to discuss some late season tips for hunting deer. Success in the late season then becomes knowing three things; where do the deer eat, where do they bed and how do they get between both places. If the winter has thrown out its blanket of snow, finding these paths will be extremely easy. Gather as much information on this triad as possible. This is key for your late season success.
The smart hunter understands that deer generally bed in different places in the winter than during summer months. In the winter, deer use very heavy thickets to bed. These areas are often too difficult for a hunter to get through without completely letting the deer know you're there. Not to mention the fact that the area covered by a deer during the winter months is always multiplied 10 fold due to the fact that the food sources that were once plentiful and close by have been harvested, so greater distances are often necessary to garner the food they need.
It should be noted that even though the area covered by the deer in winter months increases, the deer remain very concise about the areas that they bed and eat in. They will travel in their smaller area until the food is consumed or destroyed by the winter weather, then they move on within the larger area to locate food and the process repeats.
Consider the available food sources. As most hunters know, deer do like acorns. In the late season though, these acorns have often times become food for worms, squirrels or other animals. If this is the case, this makes them less than appealing to the deer roaming the area in search of food.
Some food sources to consider in the late season include harvested agricultural fields, especially corn fields. Though modern harvesting equipment does a great job at collecting all the farmers crops, there is inevitably some left behind, such as downed corn stalks and the like. These areas can be a profitable area for deer activity.
If you are fortunate enough to hunt on agricultural land, farmers often plant winter rye in their field to help reduce the effects of erosion on their fields during the winter. If this is the case, deer often find winter rye an irresistible food. Setting up along these field can increase your chances some late season success.
So, once you have located these bedding and feeding areas, set your stand up along the paths leading to and from it. Doing a bit of late season scouting and homework on the deer in your area, will help you to use the triad of information outlined above.