Keep These Things in Mind When Formulating Your Deer Hunting Plan
The late season is a monster. Cold temperatures. Pressured deer. Nasty weather. Worn-down bodies. It's a rough time to be a hunter. But it's an even tougher time to be a deer. And that's why those who still have tags should still be out there working to fill them. Here are seven major factors that greatly influence the daylight activity of post-rut whitetails.
1. Hunting Pressure
This is one of the most influential factors. Areas that received a lot of hunting pressure during the early season and rut traditionally don't see much daylight deer activity during the late season. Try to target areas that received less pressure earlier in the year.
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How high (or low) the mercury is plays a role in daylight deer activity. When it comes to getting deer up on their feet, the colder temperatures the better. But more importantly than that is change. Significant changes in temperature have a significant affect on whitetails. It's a trigger that often sends them into a feeding frenzy. If you see a temperature swing in the forecast that's at least 10 to 15 degrees lower or higher in a 24-hour period, get ready, because the deer are going to be moving. What you don't want is stagnant temperatures — even if they're bitter cold temperatures for extended periods of time.
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Varying weather is also a positive thing. Fronts get a lot of deer killed. Hunters who recognize this kill more deer. It's that simple. Rain events certainly get deer on their feet. But this time of year, snowfall is the ticket. Again, change gets deer moving. If they sense a weather event coming, they're much more likely to get up and fill their guts with grub.
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4. Barometric Pressure
High-pressure systems also encourage movement. Anytime the barometric pressure is rising should motivate deer to move. Keep tabs on weather apps to know when this is occurring throughout the season.
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5. Moon Position
Some people haven't bought into this theory yet. I'm still on the fence, but I'm leaning toward the believing crowd. I've kept close tabs on this for years and matched up the moon overhead and moon underfoot to my trail camera and in-the-field daylight sightings and its affects on feeding behaviors. The results are pretty convincing. And I think I have enough data to suggest it isn't coincidence. More time in the field will confirm or deny this theory (for me), though.
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6. Available Habitat and Food Sources
The availability of quality bedding cover and food sources is a definite factor. You won't have deer if you don't have the habitat they need. This time of year, deer are spending daylight hours in the best bedding areas that offer them security from hunters, predators and the elements. Also, they're hitting the highest-quality food sources they can find, too. Lastly, they need water — which isn't usually hard to find this time of year. That said, if any of these three things are missing, you won't see nearly as many deer as you could.
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7. Remaining Estrus Does
The rut might be over now (in the northern states), but some rut activity is still to come. Some does that were missed in November are still to be bred. Other does that haven't entered estrus yet could still do so between now and January (maybe even February). Of those, some will be doe fawns — and there's nothing better than a naïve doe fawn to drag a monster buck out into the open from its deep-woods lair.
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