December is almost halfway over already and it is safe to say that the majority of whitetails have hit the brakes. After the rut is over, and the cold weather begins to make way, there is not as large of a reason for whitetail to be out and about as frequently as they were several months ago. Most whitetails are said to have lost more than 20% of their body mass due to the rut, and with the cold weather breaking in, in order to survive they are forced to simply eat, and bed. Any remaining survivors are extremely wary at this point and the season, and that is why if you are hunting anywhere north, you better hope for bad weather.
Yes, although that may sound strange, the worst the weather, the more likely you are to see that big buck that made it through the rut. At this point in the season, whitetail do not need to expose themselves unless they are forced to react when blizzards, subzero temps and gusty conditions swoop into a region. And, by understanding their reaction when the blizzard strikes, you’re one step closer to success.
In this blog post, you will read two separate sections: Where To Look and How To Harvest. We will provide you with our ins-and-outs of targeting late season bucks in the midst of harsh conditions (such as blizzards) in hopes that you will see success.
Where To Look
First and foremost, it is very important to stay on top of the changing weather conditions during the time of year. For example, us Michiganders from HuntWise had about 5 inches of snow in mid-November and now all of the snow is melted, yet it is about 20 degrees outside. Therefore, it is very important to stay on top of these changing conditions, because your whitetail are reading the weather patterns just like the meteorologists. Start by planning your hunt just prior to an incoming winter storm or harsh conditions. Depending on the storm’s ferocity, you’ll want to hunt ahead of the storm hours and up to a day or more in advance. More times than not, a big storms will provide us with a lot of pre-storm feeding frenzies for the whitetail. And that is why the most important place to look is food locations.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that during the storm you might have to hole up like the deer. Don’t risk life if warnings or traveling advisories are in effect. However, if you can get out, consider hunting inside thick cover to possibly meet up with a buck browsing near protective bedrooms.
As we stated, locating feeding sources is going to be the most crucial element of where to look during winter storms. Whitetail will flock to the best food sources, and carbs are going to have the greatest appeal because they create the most energy for them. Considering these big bucks have lost 20% of their body mass, they are going to need the energy to survive the winter conditions.
Therefore, when thinking about what whitetail would consume, consider corn, soybeans, or grains. Look at fields both large and small, but keep a focus on where the greatest numbers of deer are congregating. Occasionally a buck might sidestep the crowds, but with the main rut in the rear view mirror, bucks tend to stay close in case the action heats up via the secondary rut.
How To Harvest
Now that you know where to look for blizzard bucks, it is time that you execute the hunt by harvesting that buck on your trail cam.
If conditions allow you to do so an awesome time to hunt is get out to the stand before the storm and try to endure the harsh conditions. As we previously stated, do not risk your life, however, if the weather always you to be at your stand, try to be there for everything. You might catch deer on the move to store away some food before they go back and bed for the storm. On the other hand, hunting right after a large winter storm can be just as rewarding in some cases. Imagine a big buck that has been forced into foodless shelter for several days or more. This can be a great time for activity.
Putting It All Together
In reality, for us hunters, anytime is a great time to hunt. However, late season gives us many different variables that we must take into account. Therefore, it is most important to stay on top of the weather and gauge how the current conditions will change deer activity and accessibility to food sources. This will increase your chances of landing that big buck on your trail cam.
Good luck hunters, and shoot straight!