Well, to this point we have certainly covered the how-to’s, the where-to’s and the why-to’s of your new hunting lease. If you would like to read those articles, please find them here.
Are you ready for a Hunting Lease – Part 1 of 5 – The Scope
Let’s Do It. Choosing the Right Hunting Lease – Part 2 of 5 – The Scope (ahuntinglease.org)
Your First 3 Must-Do’s on Your New Hunting Lease – Part 3 of 5 – (ahuntinglease.org)
But now that the rut and most of the movement have really turned off, where did all of your deer go? Don’t worry, they are still there. After two months of pressure, which ramped up considerably during gun season, they are just learning how to avoid you. I know it’s hard for some hunters to buy this, but the fact is they know when you get there and when you leave. Sounds like the truck pulling in, the truck door slamming (my personal biggest issue with hunting partners), loud talking as you dress and then the disturbance of someone walking through their living room and climbing a tree is enough for them to seek a quiet place. Also, if you are still using your trail cameras and still seeing signs, you will notice they are still there, they have simply adjusted and are moving exclusively at night. You can sit all day if you want to…but I don’t recommend it.
Deer really only have one daily need and that is to eat. Post-rut bucks are simply beaten down, worn out from fighting, running and breeding. They absolutely must have food, a lot of it, to restore depleted nutrition and survive the winter. So what can you do on your lease to have any chance of killing a good buck or even a doe now? Find the food.
Now you are going to need some help from Mother Nature. As I type this (December 3) it is 50 degrees and has been for the entire season and looks like it might stay this way at least through Christmas. To say the hunting was tough is an understatement, but now the puzzle gets a little simpler, but still not easy. I don’t count on the “second rut” much. I know it trickles in a little and you might well get lucky and catch a buck out looking for that last doe. What I like is a day or two of single-digit temperatures. I mean some flat-out bitter weather that makes lying in bed all day impossible for an animal that lives outdoors. These temperatures will get the deer moving a little more and give you a better chance of hanging your tag on a big hunk of protein. If your lease has a food source like corn or acorns (both high in carbohydrates), or even a cut bean field, I would set downwind of the trail you first hung your stand on and wait them out. Remember they are still wary of you and will come in a little skittish and likely at last light in the evening. So, when the temps get so low you think nothing will move…you need to be in the woods for that last hour of daylight.
One final thought and that is if your lease just doesn’t have a real food source. If you are still seeing sign like fresh tracks and fresh poop, they are using your lease at some point. It may be a bedding area or it may just be a travel route to or from bed/food. Either way, you should recognize these signs and adjust accordingly. Deer will travel to eat and if you can hang or set up in an ambush area, you will likely get your chance.
Remember, you don’t hunt deer or turkeys where they are, you hunt them where they are going to be.
Take a thermos of hot chocolate with you and as always…hunt safe.
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