Late-season deer are driven by weather conditions. Although doe and fawn groups have been steadily using the plots all fall buck, current usage has dramatically dropped off. Bucks are in a lull period with little activity. During periods of mild weather our cameras showed virtually no buck activity. A couple days of seasonal weather and better bucks showed up on camera. Still these bucks were largely nocturnal. Extended periods of cold nasty weather push bucks over the edge and bring them out during daylight hours.
This old warrior showed up on camera for the fist time last week on a site we monitor in northern New York. In this area, the season closed on December 2, five days prior to this buck being photographed. For the second year in a row, this buck showed up during the middle of the day on plots as soon as the season ended. If his pattern holds, he will stay on the good food throughout the winter. The lack of photos of this buck for two consecutive falls suggests he ruts in a area far and away from this property. We have his winter range, someone else has his range during the hunting season.
Bucks have been returning to loosely formed bachelor bands over the past couple of weeks. These two three-year-old bucks have been hanging together now for about a week. They bed together and feed together. For most of us it’s time to stop hunting doe groups and switch to hunting bachelor bands. This is the time of the year when cameras pay off. Once you identify a band of bucks with a good animal in it triangulate the movement of all the bucks in the band. Hunt the big guy based on the groups movements.
The bulk of the bucks photographed this past week were young bucks. Yearling bucks just don’t seem to have the need to lay up and rest as much as the big guys. For sure they haven’t learned not to move during the firearms season yet. If all your seeing is young deer, stay the course the big boys will be getting back up soon.
Hunting pressure takes it toll on deer. This photo is a common one this time of the year. This young buck is signaling danger; his actions quickly flushed all the deer from the plot. Every crunch of a leaf or foreign looking object is reason for concern this time of the year as deer are on high alert. We picked up dozens of photos like this one over the past week, right now deer are looking for the buggie man behind every bush. If you plan on trying a little stillhunting this week remember this photo. Pick a day that damper their ability to hear you. Wet windy conditions are best.
Although many immature bucks have been photographed together over the past couple weeks, we still haven’t documented the old mature guys joining bachelor bands. This mature buck showed up last week with a whole lot of attitude, his body size and posture will command distance from other deer in the field. This buck just looks weary. Dark tarsal staining tells me he bred hard all fall and in a split second he could fire up again for a late season receptive doe. He will join the bachelor band once his testosterone level drops some more but for right now he is too tired and ticked off to hang around any other deer. A buck like this is very difficult to hunt this time of the year. Typically, its going to take nasty weather to bring him out during daylight hours.
Use these trail camera photos taken last week by whitetail experts Craig and Neil Dougherty and their contacts across the country to pattern the deer where you hunt.