It was a struggle to walk. The snow was deep and it was extremely cold. It had already been a long morning. I had been out there since before daylight. I still had not seen a single deer and there were suppose to be a lot of them - somewhere. I had driven all the way from Tulsa to Durant, Mississippi in hopes of putting a tag on a nice whitetail buck. I was on the invite of my old college room mate, Cecil Corzine who was from Mississippi. One of his friends was from this area and who owned this particular property where I was hunting. After nearly an entire morning’s hunt without seeing a single deer I just figured that I had made a bad call making this trip and it wasn’t going to pan out. I was used to that kind of thing.
Late season whitetail hunting does two things; it gives you a chance to prolong your whitetail season and when done properly it all but guarantees you to fill another deer tag. I don’t see anything wrong with either one of those do you?
Plundering through the deep snow and heavy timber I suddenly saw another hunter. My first thought was that he might be trespassing. I was headed his direction so I thought I might as well walk over and talk with him. At least I could find out who he was.
“I’m Roger Raglin. I’m here hunting with a friend of mine, Cecil Corzine. Who are you?” I ask. Might as well get right to the point was my thinking.
“I’m Fred Jacobs. I own this property,” he replied.
My tune changed in a hurry. I thanked him for the opportunity to hunt there. I wasn’t totally stupid. I really wanted to say, ’Where’s all the deer?’ but I didn’t. I didn’t have to. Mr. Jacobs filled me in on some important information that I would never forget.
“No they’re here. I can promise you that,” he said. “There’s probably more deer on my property than anywhere else in the state. They’re just not going to move this time of year until about 11 o’clock, especially in this kind of weather. Even though they’re still rutting, this late season hunting is more of a mid-day hunt. Deer will lay up and not move until the mid-day when the sun is out good and then feed off and on until dark. I just sleep in and get out in the woods late morning and then hunt the rest of the day. Find the main food source and the whitetails will show up. They want to stay warm and they want to eat to do that.”
Then he went about his merry way. I did the same. I really was heading back to the cabin to warm up when just about 11 the woods came alive. There were deer running everywhere. I shot a buck at 11:15 only 200 yards behind the cabin where we were staying. I don’t know how many deer I saw after that but it was plenty. Mr. Jacob’s was right. I never forgot what he said. It was a good lesson that I still apply to this day.
I was hunting the late muzzle load season in Iowa a few years ago. Now you talk about bad weather. I mean it was cold, cold and the snow was flying. I was staying in a small town in the local motel about 40 minutes south of Des Moines. I went into get my first cup of coffee that first morning at about 9 a.m. The fellow working the front desk recognized me.
“Getting a late start this morning, Mr. Raglin?” he ask.
“No I’m right on time as far as I’m concerned.” I answered. “Ill be going out about 10:30.”
“10:30?” he replied with a strange look on his face.
“Yeh. There’s a cut corn field I’m going to set over today. The farmer left some standing corn in one corner of it and the deer will be pouring into it starting about noon until dark. I don’t see any need in freezing myself to death when the deer aren’t going to move until mid-day,” I told him.
“I had no idea,” he said.
Looking at him I added, “Now that’s not the only way to do it. It’s just the best way in late season.”
It just makes sense too doesn’t it? Whitetails are trying to stay warm so they should probably move during the warmest part of the day. They want to get out there in that sunshine and let mother nature do her thing. They also will want to eat. Just by eating alone that stirs up their system and help warms their bodies. They also are trying to replenish their bodies after or even during the rut. They’ve got to eat to survive.I’ve found that where the rut is still going on, even rutting bucks will take more time to make sure they eat in the late season. As long as a buck still has his rack he can and will breed when the opportunity presents itself. However, during the late season he’ll take what he can get when it comes to does, but he’ll make time to eat as well. Primary food sources are critical for your success as a hunter. Locate that and you’re in business. Sleep in. It won’t hurt a thing.
I didn’t shoot anything that first morning in Iowa. It took two days that trip for me to get a good one down. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. I had decided to move from where I was setting. I couldn’t see the entire field from where I was. I also was muzzle load hunting so the shot needed to be fairly close. As I dropped back into the timber and made a 1⁄2 circle to see the back side of the field there they were.
Two bucks were standing side by side about 200 yards out. There were several does closer to me at the edge of the field. I was worried about them seeing me. I can tell you that for some reason late season whitetails that you find feeding, seem to be extra focused on eating more than anything else. Maybe it’s just me but usually you can get away with more when you’re hunting them. I took the chance to slip up to the edge of that field with does lingering near. They never noticed my movement. As soon as I got to the fields’ edge I found small tree you get up against to not only help keep me hid but I wanted to use the tree as a rest. I was about to catch a break.
I had just got set up when the bucks began to work back towards the other end of the field. To get there they had to get closer to me. Using my range finder, when the bucks reached 135 yards I decided to take that shot. Both bucks were shooters. The buck in the lead was the bigger racked buck. I decided to take him.
As I touched off my CVA Accura I saw the lead buck kick and run. I knew I had hit him. Just as he reached the timber he began to slow down and I saw him tumble, only a few yards into the brush. He was down. He was a beauty too. With a nearly 20 inch spread and good mass the big 8 point buck was your typical Iowa brute. I’ll bet he weighed 280 pounds. It was a good hunt. It was another mid-day late season hunt that had paid off.
In the late season stick to the main food sources and sleep in. Most of your movement from the whitetail’s will be mid-day to dark. You might as well wait until the deer are there before you go out. If you’re a little late, they’ll wait on you.
Good deer hunting to you my friend!
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