For the last 5 years I have hunted in Oklahoma and/or Kansas (when I drew a tag) in early December. On all those hunts I witnessed good buck movement and some of the best rutting activity of the year. I’ve shot 5 mature bucks over that span, including this stunning 160-class giant in southeast Kansas last December 3. The early post-rut has become my most productive time, and I urge you not to miss these 3 days this season.

Best conditions: This December 3-5 two things will work in your favor. While Sunday could be tricky, there will be noticeably less hunting pressure in your woods on Monday and Tuesday. On December 4, the moon will be waxing to last-quarter, which is typically the best phase for deer activity, especially the last hour of daylight. If it’s frosty and cold those 3 days, all the better.

Top stand: Mature bucks that have been hunted for weeks come to check does and eat the last morsels of food in a field or plot, but they’re hesitant to move through open woods in daylight. Bucks will cling to the last strips of standing weeds or brush in a draw, or walk in a cover-laced ditch, or hug cedars on a ridge. That’s where you need to set up, tight to those cover strips and close to the feed, and try to whack a buck the last hour before sundown.

Go-to-tactics: A landmark Texas study found that the early post-rut is the best time to rattle in a 4- or 5-year-old buck, so crack the horns (crisp, still mornings are best). Go back and watch areas you hunted in the November rut; you might catch a buck prowling back through the rut zone for a last hot doe. I lay a doe-in-heat trail into all my December stands, and then I hang wicks to float more estrus lure in the woods. There are only a few hotties left to breed now, and that sweet scent might bring a buck running. If you see him shoot straight. Good luck!