You and millions of other guys and gals have a few days off this week, and for many of you this is the last best chance to get your 2019 buck. After stuffing your face Thursday, get out there and try these tactics.

  • Hunt where two or three ridges converge and peter out into a creek or river bottom. The thicker the cover in the area the better. If food sources are anywhere close by, the spot will be a dumping ground for whitetails. Set a gun stand or blind on a vantage 100 yards or so downwind of a convergence of hills and draws and watch for a day or two. If and when a burly shooter rolls by, take him.
  • Look for the narrowest point between two blocks of woods, and set a stand or blind to cover it. When crossing a crop field or pasture many bucks will run the choke point between the two timbers or thickets, thereby minimizing their exposure in the wide open. Stay on your toes and be ready for a quick rifle or muzzleloader shot, because bucks generally trot or flat-out run from point A to B. Stop one in the open middle with a big grunt if you have to.
  • “X marks the spot” can be your deadliest rut tactic if you’re still archery hunting. Follow an old scrape line to a spot where it cuts a major doe trail deep in the woods. There you should find thrashed saplings and more weeks-old scrapes. Hang a stand on the downwind side of that intersection. Even though bucks won’t be working the scrapes now, one or two will still prowl through the area, looking to hook up with a last receptive doe. You will see bucks; one might be a shooter.
  • You can glass, scout and follow all these great strategies to a tee and it won’t mean squat if you hunt in an area with a lot of other people. Pressure changes everything, especially with mature bucks. If you hunt pressured private ground or a block of public land, let other hunters have the fields, creek funnels and other “best” spots. You check an aerial map, Google Earth or a hunting app and go the thickest, roughest hell-holes a half-mile or more from where others hunt. That’s where the mature bucks will go to flee the pressure. Hunt deep inside there.
  • If you have an understanding boss, push it and take off December 2 and 3 too. With everybody back to work, you’ll have the woods to yourself, even on most public lands. Mature bucks that hunkered down in the pressure of Thanksgiving week will feel more secure moving a bit, and you might get one yet.