WHATYA THINK—field or woods?” questioned my brother.
Before I could answer, he continued. “With this hard north wind? I’d say woods, but the hard freezes have pretty well done in most of the green weeds, and the acorns are just about gone. So they will likely be hitting the food plots that are still green.”
I nodded in agreement.
“How about you hunt the field on the north side of the property. There are several small pockets going back into the woods. There should be some protection from this wind.
“As cold as the wind is, deer might be feeding there. I’ll hunt the plot close to camp. Been a pretty good deer on-camera there and lots of hogs.”
With that my brother Glenn and I headed to our respective areas after loading our muzzleloaders. I loaded my vintage Ruger M77 .50 with 100-grains of Pyrodex, topped with a 250-grain Hornady SST sabot, on which was mounted a Trijicon AccuPoint scope, sighted in at 100 yards.
Thirty minutes later I crawled in at the base of an ancient live oak, surrounded by oak saplings just tall enough to cover the majority of my presence, a near-perfect natural ground blind.
Having sprayed down with Texas Raised Hunting Products, Scent Guardian, I was not concerned about the wind. I propped the Ruger muzzleloader on my shooting sticks and began the evening vigil.
No sooner had I settled in than deer started to show up, does, fawns and two young fork-horns. Obviously they were hungry! Soon more deer arrived, including an almost legal ten-point buck. He was tall but only had a 12-inch inside spread; local regulation required 13 inches.
The bucks paid no attention to the does, only interested in filling their rumens. The rut was six weeks past, and bucks were again forming into bachelor herds, a far call from what I had seen only a couple of weeks earlier in the Brush Country where the rut was still going full force—where too, bucks were still coming to rattling horns.
Watching these Gulf Coast Prairie whitetails, I reflected upon my most recent trip to South Texas, only a few days ago I had rattled in 27 bucks in a day’s hunt.
Because our state is expansive, by late December and January in some regions the breeding season is way past. In others it is still going strong.
In some areas with excellent nutrition, as many as 80 percent or more of the doe fawns born the previous spring may have their first estrus period in January and February, creating what some refer to as a “second rut.” This is when older bucks not previously seen, show up during daylight hours.
Techniques for Texas’s late season vary from hunting food sources primarily, to using Texas Raised Hunting Products attractants and rattling horns.
In areas where the rut is long past, food sources are prime places to find deer. Where the rut is going on, food still plays a role, because that is where bucks go to check on the estrus status of does.
Often a good way to hunt food plots during the rut is to follow a trail back into the cover to where deer trails converge. It is here that bucks often check does going to the food plot without exposing themselves in the plots. Rattling, too, works pretty much throughout the extended breeding season.
Back at the Gulf Coast Plains property, mid-January.
It was just past legal shooting light when a five-buck bachelor herd appeared. Alas, all had at least eight points with inside spreads of thirteen to fifteen inches.
I was thankful that three days of the late muzzleloader season remained. Hopefully, tomorrow they would show up earlier.
Then, too, several more days of the Managed Lands Deer Permit season remained on other property I hunted.
Got to love living and hunting in Texas!
Email Larry Weishuhn at [email protected]