It was mid December 2013, and I’d been hunting two mature bucks in Michigan with a vengeance. I’d obsessed over every detail, plotted every different possibility, and put in place a plan that I thought couldn’t fail. I was going to kill one of these two bucks. But after waiting for the right conditions, and hunting hard on those perfect days, my perfect plan hadn’t worked out. I’d come close, but not close enough. So, I was left at a crossroads. Do I give in to the fact that my season was done, or go back to the drawing board?

On the evening of December 16, I made my decision. I’d come up with a new plan. I had been focusing all my hunting efforts over the past week on my main Michigan property, a place where I’d worked tirelessly to improve bedding cover and put in quality food plots. Still, I hadn’t been able to get a shot. With this intense focus on this improved property though, I’d completely ignored another piece of ground I had permission to hunt, on the backside of this area. I hadn’t hunted there in well over a month, because it didn’t seem to have as much going for it. But now, it seemed, it was my last good opportunity. I had nearly forgotten about it—but had the deer?

By the end of that night, I had wrapped my tag around the antler of the 5.5-year-old Michigan monarch I’d been chasing the last three years, and I’d learned an important lesson. Yes, late season deer crave quality food and cover, but above all else they seek out a respite from hunting pressure. A sanctuary. A safe place. A forgotten place.

Is there a little pocket of hunting ground that you’ve left untouched? Is there a parcel that you’ve overlooked? Is there a section of public land that you know no one else could have accessed? Now, more than at any other time of year, these isolated areas of low pressure are where you’ll most likely find those mature bucks.

So if you’re still looking to fill your tag this season, let this be a reminder to not forget those forgotten places.