Y ogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And in Texas, it ain’t over!
It is true that most whitetail bucks are taken the first week of the season, but there are still some out there. You just need to look harder and change your hunting tactics.
The good news is that any bucks you may encounter in the late season will be the big boys; the ones who have outsmarted hunters for another year, so it is not time to give up. Your freezer is empty, and you still have a tag!
With all the hunting pressure in the woods lately, the deer have learned to adapt once again and go into survival mode. All year long deer have to avoid the hog hunters, hikers, and just about any other human activity in the woods. Now add to the equation a number of deer hunters, both bow and rifle, that have invaded the whitetail’s home turf, and you will be amazed that there are any deer left in the woodlot at all.
Where do they go? How can you find them?
After being chased all season, the deer find the most unlikely places to hide—at least until the pressure cools down a bit. To find these elusive masters, you will most likely have to put up with a few people who might think you have totally lost it.
You should try hunting in those small islands in the middle of fields—or those little two-acre woodlots that you find in the middle of nowhere. Get in there well before it thinks of getting light and just sit and wait.
If deer are using the field to feed in, you might find the buck you were looking for heading straight for your “island” where he feels secure. Who in their right mind would search for him there?
I know what you are thinking. You just have no confidence that the deer are really in there. Oh you read about it and have read about it before, but still you have a hard time convincing yourself that you are not wasting your time.
My answer to that is “What have you got to lose?” You already have spent countless numbers of hours searching for him in your favorite woodlot, and you still have your tag. He just might be in that small sweet spot that no one would ever think of hunting.
If you are like me, by this time of the year, you are so tired of getting up at dark thirty in the morning. Your warm bed and some much needed sleep sound so much better than yet another trek in the woods trying to bring home some venison.
If you feel this way, it’s not a bad idea to try your luck later in the day. So how can you expect to fill your tag in the middle of the day when the deer are already in their beds? I agree that it is extremely difficult to be successful if you are alone. The deer hear you coming from a mile away and are ready to sneak off to parts unknown.
I have tried a couple of tricks that have worked—at least some of the time. You will need the aid of a friend or two. Here is where you find who your real friends are.
The first thing you need to do after locating a small patch of woods is to check the wind direction. Both you and your buddy should line up at one end of the thicket. Keep the wind in your face and have your friend start to zigzag slowly through his side of the woods. Wait about five minutes or so and then you should start to walk slowly through your side of the woods.
It is important to be as quiet as you can. With you zigzagging through one side of the woods, any deer that might be bedded down should simply sneak off to the other side of the woods and wait for your friend to pass on by.
Often times, a deer will not only move to the other side of the woods, but will try to circle behind the intruder to catch his scent and then bed back down. This is why you, as the second driver, should be alert at all times.
If a deer is indeed bedded down there, you have an excellent chance of seeing him try to sneak away from the first driver and walk right to you unaware of your presence. If you see him before he sees you, you might fill your freezer that afternoon!
Another way to drive deer in the late season involves two of your friends. If you already know a well-used deer trail that could be an escape route, set up near that deer run. It is important to remember to keep the wind in your face.
Have your buddies walk along the outer perimeter of the small woodlot. They should carry with them something that would leave a foreign smell to the woods. It could be some cheap cologne, after shave, or even a can of W-D 40.
Every once in a while they can spray a little of this scent onto a bush as they walk the outside of the woods. Now you are using the buck’s best defense, his nose, against him. Have your friends start slowly bumping the deer along in the woods toward you.
If the deer starts to head for the edge of the woodlot, it will smell what it perceives to be danger. After all, it just heard someone walking the edge of their bedroom. They will want to stay in the woods, and your friends might bump the deer right to you.
It might work—might not, but it sure beats watching the hunting shows on TV while you still have a tag to fill.
Happy New Year—and remember to have fun out there and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]