I enjoy hunting during the late season. Even though there’s fewer hours of daylight, the odds are deer will be active during shooting light. This is because deer require more calories during colder temperatures to maintain body heat. Also, bucks are often seeking food to gain weight that was lost during the rut. In addition, there’s often less high-quality food available during this portion of the season compared to the early or mid-season, meaning deer might have to travel farther or search longer to feed.

Top photo: Locating late-season whitetails is all about finding the preferred food sources. Standing soybeans and corn is hard to beat. Above: The author’s daughter, Rae, is hoping a December deer visits her food plot.

Bucks will be on their feet looking for groceries, and it’s easy to scout and find the best sources of food where we have permission to hunt. As an example of an ideal spot, check out the video below. This food plot is still attracting deer, and we’ve left it alone for a few weeks. The deer are calm and feeding naturally, during daylight. (Be sure to turn up the volume on the trail cam video to hear the deer’s footfalls, which is one of the best sounds in the whitetail woods!) 

A more advanced strategy is to not only scout for sources of high-quality food, but for areas that deer don’t associate with danger. This means finding woodlots and other spots where there’s been very limited hunting pressure for at least a few weeks.

Make no mistake — whitetails are very alert to two-legged predators by this time of year. Finding a topnotch food source that deer don’t associate with danger is an excellent strategy for filling a late-season deer tag. 

Stay warm and enjoy creation!

Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Dr. Grant Woods and his popular on-demand web series that shares current information about deer hunting and deer management. The free videos focus on what the GrowingDeer team of experienced hunters and deer managers are doing in the field week to week, including action-packed hunts, proven hunting strategies, habitat management, food plots, trail camera techniques and the gear it takes to get it all done.

Images and video by Dr. Grant Woods

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