Hunt the Early Season Stands - Many deer hunters during the regular season the first few days or weekends of the season and then bag their deer or run out of time. These hunting spots have been untouched for a period of time and the smartest of deer will know this. Areas you know that haven’t been hunted or have received little disturbance since early to mid season are great spots to check back into as these spot may seem obvious but rarely get hunted from the early season on.
Let the Moon be Your Guide - Even though there is a lot of talk about this during the early season, late season hunting will require you pay even more attention to the moon phases. Deer naturally become more nocturnal during the winter in part because of the energy benefits they receive by resting during the day when it’s a bit warmer and moving around to feed at night when the temperature is at its coldest. Pay special attention to the nights where there is less moonlight and nights with heavy cloud cover, deer will be making the move in the mornings to get back to bedding areas in the morning. Remember that during the late season, deer will require less food so bites to eat will become quicker and less frequent.
Hunting the Weather Fronts – Cold weather and cold fronts will push deer to look for food or a bedding area. Cold weather requires high energy consumption so watch for cold fronts coming through and either get out in front of it or grab that chilly morning to sit. Mature bucks may try to ride out the cold front but even mature bucks will need to replenish the energy they are spending to staying warm so consecutive nights of chilly weather will make the mornings a great time to catch that big guy looking for a quick bite to eat.
Deer Pattern You – Like I stated above, stands, or areas that you or others hunted in your area, get away from them and hunt the areas that have not seen pressure. Deer pattern people as much or more than people pattern deer. Find un-hunted travel corridors as well as wooded creeks and swamps that deer love. Mature bucks may walk across a property without being spotted, even if it means going across a wide open field where he knows you are not. Consider hunting untraditional areas at untraditional times, especially during a full moon. During a full moon, deer move more during mid-day, and if you are in the travel line less traveled, you may just get that big guy to walk right on by.
Post Rut Bucks - Although early winter creates harsh conditions with low temperatures, rain and snow, it is one of the few times during the year when bucks carrying trophy racks may be seen together. Because the rut is over the bucks are no longer antagonistic toward each other, and they often begin to reform the bachelor groups they were in before the rut. They are also in search of high quality foods, in order to gain back the weight they lost during the rut. This combination of factors provides late season hunters the opportunity to see several bucks, including some that are trophy class, together on a regular basis.