For most bowhunters, mid-September to mid-November is the most common time to get your hunt on. That said, the late season can also offer a patient and persistent hunter a last chance buck. However, hunting this time frame also presents a few different challenges, depending on where you hunt.
CHALLENGE: If you’re hunting in the South, East, or Midwest for whitetail, you will either be sitting in a treestand or sitting on the ground. In both cases, you’ll likely spend hours waiting for a shot. This requires an incredible amount of patience and hard-core dedication to sit it out in the elements. Typically, the only real moving you will do is walking to and from your treestand. It is critical to avoid heavy perspiration on your way into the stand so you don’t throw off a strong scent and freeze from the frigid temperatures and brisk winds.
On the other hand, if you’re hunting in the West for mule deer, you will likely use a different approach known as “spot and stalk,” in which you will be walking and glassing with binoculars. In the more open areas of the West, it is critical to cover a lot of ground and to use the long-range viewing capability of a good set of binoculars to lead the way. The reason why spot and stalk hunting is so big out West is primarily because of the great visibility and the larger travel patterns of the deer out there.
SOLUTION: When hunting this time of year, you should wear clothing that allows your body to breathe in order to avoid sweat buildup. While walking to the stand, be sure to minimize your layers. Bring a day-pack to hold any extra layers until you arrive at your stand. Most importantly, you need to stay dry whether you are in a static position or spot and stalk hunting. My trick is to keep my body comfortable but never hot. When hunting on-stand I lean towards being slightly cold on the way in to avoid sweating at all costs.
One base layer company whose products I have recently used is Terramar. Their new TXO layer minimizes human odor like no other base layer I have experienced! Terramar’s base layer kept me comfortable in 25-degree weather when the winds were gusting hard. Remember, it’s key to not wear so many layers that you make yourself sweat when you are on your feet. This tip can be the difference between filling your tags and going home empty-handed in the late season.
Check out the video embedded below for more from David on the importance of proper base layering.
CHALLENGE: Another challenge with the late season in many areas of the country is the limited cover available due to the leaves and cover falling off, and grass being pounded down by snowfall. You’re not too invisible when walking through or sitting in bright, white snow.
SOLUTION: To actually pull off the motion of drawing back your bow and not being seen by your prey while taking a shot, you want to minimize bulk. Wearing tighter clothing that fits your body creates a better opportunity for you to hide by minimizing the silhouette that you’re putting out there. The more you rely on tighter layering, the better your chances are to not get busted. The layering approach allows you to trap or minimize the output of human scent and stay more concealed by avoiding a bulky silhouette.
CHALLENGE: When hunting the late season, deer tend to be more nocturnal, or they move mostly before the sun rises or after it sets and daylight activity is minimized.
SOLUTION: Hunt deer through their stomach, based upon where they feed. By hunting available food sources located near bedding areas that provide cover from the elements, you just might catch Mr. Big making his move. Food sources are where you want to spend most of your time to improve your chances at success. Unless the conditions are nearly unbearable, you will catch deer feeding when they have the opportunity to do so around dusk and dawn. Be there and take your buck.
Hunting the late season is not easy, but when you use proper base layers and hunt near available food you have the best chance to close the deal. Remember it’s cold out there, so “don’t confuse activity with results.” Good luck and go get that buck.
David Farbman is the chairman and founder of Carbon Media Group, a principal in NAI Farbman Group, CEO of NucoHealth, and a lifetime hunter and outdoorsman.
Image by Amy Sylvester