Late Season Deer Hunting │ Putting a Last Minute Buck on the Ground

Late Season Success │ Tips You Need to Know

The late season is an all too often overlooked opportunity by whitetail deer hunters, when in fact it can be an excellent time to catch mature whitetail bucks on their feet and looking for food. Here are a few things you need to know that can help you be successful while deer hunting in the late season.

This time frame, from December- January, is arguably one of the best times to be in the deer woods in pursuit of a big mature whitetail buck. These rut worn, cold, and hungry bucks can be a little easier to pattern and, in the right situation lend themselves to be very susceptible to harvest. Putting cold hours in the deer stand this late into the season can be rewarding. Take note of these tips and head out before the deer season ends.

The Rut

During the late season the rut is winding down, and the post rut is in full swing. Many deer biologists will tell you that there can be a small peak in rut activity towards the beginning of what is referred to as the late season, but for the most part rut activity is minimal. Even with this marginal activity, mature bucks tend to hang around areas that are frequented by does and doe fawns.

Light vocalizations such as grunting, bleats and some rattling can still be effective in the right situations. White-tailed deer are for the most part in a transition during this time, and their priorities have shifted from mating to other basic needs such as food and cover. The take home message here is that while you can have some success hunting with rut specific tactics, your best chance is to transition your strategy along with the bucks.


Hunting a food source such as standing beans, corn, or brassicas can be one of the best tactics for putting a late season buck on the ground. Having one of these food sources to hunt over and managing hunting pressure correctly can be extremely critical. While it goes without saying the deer will visit these areas daily giving you plenty of opportunity at a harvest, the timing may change back to more of a nocturnal pattern. A strong cold front however can completely change the script. Your chance at late season success can be greatly increased by paying attention to these fronts and picking the best days to hunt over a food source. This minimizes hunting pressure and keeps deer on the food source. During these events whitetail deer will frequent these areas earlier in the afternoon and stay longer. The changes in the temperature and barometric pressure will drive them to top off their stomachs. During this time scouting by glassing and running multiple trail cameras can be critical, doing your homework directly correlates to success.


Deer hunting the late season offers one of the best times to harvest a mature buck, but patience during these long cold hunts is a virtue. Being careful to observe every buck in detail gives you a chance to take inventory of which bucks survived the regular part of the season and insure you harvest a mature buck. If you find yourself with an empty deer tag and empty freezer this late into the season follow these late season tips to put a whitetail on the ground.

Enjoy this blog? Check out our compilation of the 10 best blogs you should be reading for December!

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