4 Issues Whitetail Deer Hunters Ought to Do When the Season Closes

My deer season right here in southeastern Minnesota closed this previous weekend. I managed to get some extra meat for the freezer in the previous few minutes of the final day, however as quickly as that doe was butchered and packaged up, I began excited about subsequent 12 months’s season. Don’t get me improper; I’m additionally excited about stress-free on the sofa and having fun with some school bowl video games and the NFL playoffs. It’s good to wind issues down a bit of after going at it so laborious for therefore lengthy. However I do know from lengthy expertise that highest time to get a leap on subsequent 12 months’s success is true now, whereas I’m nonetheless in go mode, and earlier than I get so snug on the sofa that I wind up laying aside the issues that must be carried out proper now.

What are these precisely? Nicely, in my thoughts, there are 4 key issues that you’ll want to proper after or very quickly after the season closes so that you simply don’t wind up behind the eight ball as subsequent fall approaches. Right here’s a rundown.

1. Run Cameras to Be taught Which Bucks Survived

a trail-cam picture of whitetail deer
Maintain your digicam on scorching meals sources, or bait the place authorized, to see which bucks are nonetheless kicking. Scott Bestul

It’s tempting to drag your trail-cams now after a protracted summer season and fall of swapping SD playing cards and blowing by way of batteries however keep it up just a bit bit longer. Now’s the proper time to study which bucks have made it by way of the looking seasons and could be out there to hunt subsequent 12 months. These trail-cam pics can even add priceless information to your library of information about particular person bucks; the place they stay, how they behave round different deer, and even adjustments to their persona. For example of the final, we had a phenomenal 9-point that we’d just about determined was a non-fighter; he’d maintained a clear, unbroken rack for 2 years. However trail-cam pics of him after the third season revealed that he’d blended it up with a number of bucks, as his winter rack sported a number of damaged factors. Good data to know going into the following fall, as this buck would seemingly reply to calling and rattling higher than he had in earlier seasons. 

Publish-season cams can even reveal new bucks on the scene, a frequent occurring on winter meals sources. Whereas a few of these winter freeloaders will return to their unique houses come spring, yearly we appear to select up a brand new buck that decides our groceries are adequate to warrant increasing his dwelling vary. If it’s authorized for you place down bait as soon as the season closes, it’ll undoubtedly up the chances of getting goal bucks on digicam now.

2. Tweak Tree-Stand Areas that Weren’t Fairly Proper

I put a ton of time and thought into nearly each tree-stand set—studying signal, watching deer conduct, making educated guesses about how deer will transfer by way of a sure patch of canopy, and eventually hanging a stand within the excellent spot to capitalize on that data. However I don’t all the time get it precisely proper, and I’m guessing you don’t both.

Now’s the proper time to repair that. I simply sat one in all my new stands final week, and deer moved by way of the world however simply out of bow vary. And so they did the identical factor earlier within the fall. As I watched this latest group of whitetails, I spotted they have been favoring a barely extra dense and brushy edge than the extra open timber by my stand website. I solely want to maneuver the set 20 yards to actually dial it in, however this small transfer will flip a great place into an incredible one. I can’t start to inform you what number of instances this has paid off for me over time. That’s, after I make myself do it simply after the season. Now’s the time, while you’ve seemingly obtained your stand-handing stuff helpful and also you’re within the behavior of doing this job. In case you wait, it’s possible you’ll not get to it till late summer season forward of the brand new season, while you’ll have an excessive amount of different prep work to make time for it.

3. Backtrack Bucks within the Snow to Discover Their Beds

In case you’ve carried out a whole lot of scouting and noticed loads of deer in your property, it’s possible you’ll have already got a good suggestion of the place bucks wish to mattress in your property. However the distinction between having “a good suggestion” and understanding is big, and nailing down buck bedding areas may be fairly straightforward to do proper now, particularly if there’s snow.

Merely scout areas the place you recognize deer are energetic till you chop a superb buck observe, then backtrack–or observe it–till you discover the buck’s mattress. In case you bump him, don’t sweat it; the buck can run all he desires to and he gained’t bear in mind the spooking while you’re looking him subsequent fall. In truth, bumping him, giving him time to cool down, then monitoring and bumping him once more can educate you masses about how that buck makes use of the panorama; priceless intel as you hunt him subsequent fall. (And no, bumping him twice won’t run him out so long as you’ve obtained good cowl and meals.)

Whereas your at this, do not forget that the place bucks mattress typically relies upon of the place the most effective meals is, so think about areas shut the highest late-season meals sources in your property that you simply count on to be current within the late season subsequent 12 months too.

Missing snow, that is one in all my favourite instances to completely unravel rub and scrape strains. Whereas discovering this signal is clearly widespread in fall, most of us (properly) don’t observe rub or scrape strains extensively for worry of compromising looking alternatives. However there’s no want for such worry now, and following buck spoor from starting to finish can reveal reams about the place bucks mattress, feed, and stage, in addition to the journey routes linking these areas. A few of the very best stand websites I’ve hung over time are the direct results of post-season scouting efforts. I merely understood deer conduct so properly in an space that I truthfully wasn’t stunned when a buck confirmed up.  

4. Examine Path-Cam Footage to Be taught Patterns

photo of a big whitetail buck
A trail-cam shot of a deer the writer calls The 75 Buck, because it visits one in all his push-up ponds. Scott Bestul

By season’s finish I’ve gathered fairly a financial institution of pictures from the autumn, however earlier than I relegate them to folders for straightforward storage, I wish to undergo all my pics and actually examine them. Whitetails, together with mature bucks, are inclined to repeat patterns and behaviors from 12 months to 12 months, so for any good one which I do know remains to be alive, I wish to know every little thing I can about him.

A buck my buddies and I name “The 75 Buck” is an ideal instance. I’m the one one in all our group who has laid eyes on him. I noticed him twice, dogging does each instances, as soon as on November 1 and once more the top of the late archery season. I wasn’t inside 100 yards of him on both sighting, however I think about each encounters large as I create a recreation plan for looking him subsequent fall. Every scrap of knowledge we get on a person deer–a path cam pic, sighting, or tell-tale signal (observe, rub or scrape)–may be vital intel for a hunt that gained’t begin for at the very least one other 9 months. And whereas a lot is made from MRI (most up-to-date data), in the case of arranging an encounter with a mature buck, I’d argue that historical past is simply as vital.

So, I take word each time good bucks present up on sure cameras and the particular spot it was situated. For instance, if a buck reveals up in daylight on a September clover plot, I word the date and situations. The identical goes for my mock scrape units; I wish to know the precise date and time when a mature buck began hitting a scrape and, even higher, when these visits morphed from darkish to sunlight. Most of my trail-cam pictures denote temperature and, in some instances moon part, and I wish to know that too.

Lastly I maintain a watch out for up and comers. We usually give most 2½-year-old bucks a move in my looking group, and it’s all the time enjoyable to see which of those AAA gamers have a shot at turning into subsequent fall’s heavy hitters. Learning path cam pics and movies of those up and comers can present priceless intel about the place and once they could be susceptible subsequent fall. 

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