Big hunting weekend coming up. You and millions of other guys and gals have a few days off, and for many of you this is your last best chance to get your buck. After stuffing your face Thursday, get out there and try these 3 tactics.
“Dumping Ground” Stand
In farm country, head for a strip or pocket of timber that borders a corn or bean field. Inside those woods, look for an inner structure where two or three ridges and draws converge and peter out into a creek bottom. The thicker the cover in the draws and down in the bottom the better. With food, water and bedding, a spot like this is a dumping ground for whitetails that come and go.
You can set a tree stand or ground blind on a ridge side that looks down into the convergence of the hills and draws. Or, since most of you will hunt with a gun this weekend, you can go old-school and simply sit against a tree with good visibility and shooting lanes into the bottom. Camp out here for two or three days and I can almost guarantee you’ll see a buck. Making the shot is up to you.
By late November, bucks are tired and beat down from the frenzy of peak rut, but they still run on a last jolt of testosterone. Many bucks continue to blaze rubs, so look for fresh ones.
While bucks generally don’t paw scrapes this late, at least not heavily, they cruise back through creek bottoms and draws where they scraped and rubbed trees weeks ago, and where they made contact with hot does back then. Go back and hunt a stand that you hung in a sign-blazed funnel earlier in November, you might catch a buck working there now.
Switch It Up
In most regions rifles have cracked for a week or more by now, and the hoard of gun hunters that flood the woods over Thanksgiving will only triple the heat on deer. Numerous studies have shown that whitetails do not flee pressure by leaving their home ranges entirely. Rather, most bucks continue to live in the same general areas, but they do seek out thick, hidden spots where few if any people ever hunt.
That is why switching it up is so important now. Think “out of the way.” A beaver swamp beside a gravel road, a 3-acre thicket behind a neighbor’s barn, a deserted, overgrown hog lot just down the road on an abandoned farm… Any hidden little spot like that is where an old 8- or 10-pointer might hide in hopes of riding out the season. Find such a spot, hang a tree stand on the downwind edge of it and hunt it through Sunday.
Lastly, if you have a few vacation days left and have an understanding boss, push it and take off November 29 through December 1 or 2. Late in the season and during the weekdays, you’ll have the woods pretty much to yourself, even on most public lands. Bucks that hunkered down in the pressure of Thanksgiving week will feel a little more secure moving a bit, and you might get one yet.