Late Season Whitetail Hunting Strategies

Section #8: Strategies For Hunting Late Season Whitetail Deer

As the deer hunting season starts to come to a close, it can sometimes be a little disappointing or even frustrating for many hunters, depending on how the season went. Many hunters might be disappointed about the deer they were not able to connect on. Or maybe second-guessing a few different hunting decisions. No matter the case, if you still have an unused tag in your pocket during the late season, there is still some hope! Late season hunting can be very productive if you approach it in the right way. If you still have some days left to hunt, you can connect on a late-season mature buck. Thanks to a few of these different late season whitetail hunting strategies!

Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

Late Season Challenges

Whitetail Buck Winter Rut Hunting Season

It is no secret that hunting the late season comes with a variety of different obstacles. But while it is not easy, it is not impossible either. There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to hunt the late season, like the fact that the deer have been chased, shot at, and pursued a while now and will no doubt be on edge during this time of year. The deer will be very educated at this point, and even the smallest mistakes can and will cost you. Make sure you do not do things like hunt in a wrong wind direction or make any loud noises while in a stand, as the deer will key in on these much better this time of year. 

Another challenge of late-season hunting is having the patience to hunt the right conditions. If you wait for the right wind, cold front, or snowstorm to roll through, your hunting can be much better. These types of conditions will usually get the deer up and moving around much more. Giving you the best chance at getting them under your stand. Of course, if you only have limited days to hunt, you might not get the luxury of waiting for these types of conditions. If it is almost the end, you might want to hunt anyway because what do you have to lose?

One of the most obvious challenges to the late season is the cold weather that you might be hoping for in order to get the deer moving. This could mean a significant amount of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. These are tough conditions to sit through. You will need to go in prepared for this weather and bring plenty of cold-weather gear. If you are sitting a treestand, bring plenty of layers in order to be able to regulate your body temperature. As the temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Ground blinds and hunting stands will help you to stay warmer, but it is still smart to go as prepared as possible. 

Late Season Whitetail Hunting Strategies – Find The Food

In order to help find and hunt deer during the late season, there are a few different things you can do in order to locate and target deer. The late-season gives you the ability to rely on a deer’s appetite (much like the early season). Mature bucks will need to hit food sources very regularly during this time of year in order to rebuild their bodies after the rut. They need to replenish their body mass and fat supply. Be sure to check any and all available food sources. You may even see them in places like crop fields or food plots during the day, which is very rare during any other time of the year. 

Depending on the area, look for things like standing corn or soybeans that will easily attract deer. These are two of the best late-season food sources for whitetail deer. If you own any property yourself, you should consider planting a late season food source. You can build this into your Whitetail Habitat Improvement Plans. Even a small, simple food plot can produce amazing results during the late season. Especially for big mature bucks that have been rutting hard and need some food in order to help them survive until the spring warmup.

Late Season Whitetail Hunting Strategies – On The Move

If you do not have any available food sources to hunt. Or if you are just flat out freezing to death in your stand. You may want to consider another option to fill your tag. Something like still-hunting can be very productive this time of year, especially when hunting with a muzzleloader or rifle. Still hunting consists of slowly walking through the woods until you find deer, or finding and following deer tracks. The only way that this is productive is if you move very slowly, and we mean extremely slow. Take one step, stop, and look around. You do not want to make any noise while doing this, as you can scare away any deer before you even get a glimpse of them. 


While still hunting might not be for everyone, it can be an excellent way to avoid the cold and get active. When the deer are not feeding this time of year, they are tucked away trying to conserve energy and stay warm. If you can find them before they see, hear, or smell you, then you stand a very good chance of filling your tag! If the conditions are right and the deer are spending the day resting, this can be a very productive strategy to kill some otherwise impossible deer.

Wrap Up

The late-season might be a depressing time for some hunters. For others, it represents a last chance to fill a tag and put some meat in the freezer. If you find yourself with an unused tag and would like to either fill the freezer yourself or maybe even connect with that mature buck that gave you the slip all season, you should try out some of these late-season strategies and who knows? The late-season might just become one of your favorite times of the year.

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