Most of the does have been bred by now, but mature bucks that have survived battles with other males, not to mention the gauntlet of hunters’ arrows and bullets, still prowl for a few days for the last 10 percent or so of gals that are still receptive.

This is a great time to whack a monster, like the 22-point, 221 4/8-inch Iowa giant that Brian LaRue got with his bow on November 22 a few years ago (picture).


The buck crossed a field, hit the woods, and cut through several thickets, rubbing as he cruised for the sight or smell of a last hot doe. Brian put an arrow in the deer’s boiler room as it swung 20 yards behind his stand. The world-class buck was 4½ and weighed less than 200 pounds. Sometimes due to weird genetics the old guys don’t weigh much. Plus, that buck had shed pounds chasing and breeding does for weeks.

Pray for daytime highs in the 20s to 40s, with lows in the 20s or teens. Cold and snow will make the thin, tired bucks move hard and early in the day near crop fields or green plots. They still want to hook up with does, but they gotta eat. The dark moon should make for perfect hunting conditions. Skittish bucks feel comfortable moving under cover of darkness and at dusk and dawn.


Try this stand: You’ll probably (hopefully) have a chilly west to north wind, so hang a stand on the east side of a hillside where you can cover a wide swath of woods or pasture. If there’s good late-season food like soybeans or corn farther to the east or north, great, a lot of deer will move toward and past you going in that direction. Watch for a bruiser cutting from one thicket to the next, hoping to run across a last hot doe holed up in one of them. If he gets lucky you might too. If he finds a gal and runs her close to your stand, shoot straight and tag out on one of the last best days of the season.