I know, we all love hunting the rut, but truth be told, some of the best bucks are taken at the end of the season. Rut weary bucks are back to building up their body reserves and that means the need to feed.
If you are lucky enough to have some good bucks left (after all the pressure) in your area, and have some ready-made food sources like unharvested soybeans or corn or winter greens or even left-over acorns, now is the time to camp out on them. Wear plenty of heavy clothes because the colder and nastier the weather, the more the rut-worn big ‘ole bucks will be on the food.
A rutting buck typically sheds about 25 to 30 percent of his bodyweight chasing does, fighting for breeding rights, and skipping meals. In severe climates he has about a month or so to put the weight back on and rebuild his body to keep the winter at bay. He will seek out the most carbohydrate-rich foods (beans, corn, acorns) he can find to help pack on those life saving pounds.
Injured bucks are quick to quit the girls and head for the food. We often see the old broken beat up warriors out there first. Generally speaking, the colder the temps, the more likely you will catch a good buck with his guard down and feeding in daylight hours. An exposed deer feeding in single digit temps looses more energy than he gains so he’ll feed mid-day to take advantage of the warmest temps the day has to offer. Late season warm spells will often keep big bucks feeding under the cover of darkness and make for a deer-free hunt.
Late season deer hunting might not be for the faint of heart, but if you’d just as soon sit a stump than sit in your La-Z-Boy, then tough weather hunts are for you. They can be incredibly productive. Happily, there is plenty of cold weather gear out there to soften your sit and more and more hunters are using heater equipped shooting boxes to make cold weather sits over food a darn right pleasure.
So draw a red circle around the last few days of your season and get out there and hunt the food. The best has yet to come.