Hunting the very cold late season for whitetails is hard enough. Having archery equipment in your hand and the difficulty level advances ten-fold. Whitetails have been chased by hunters with both bows and guns for the last few months making them very spooky, but there is still an opportunity to fill any unused tags and get that monster buck.
Once the snow starts coming down and the temperatures get downright frigid, food is about the only thing deer are thinking of. Both bucks and does quickly get into a pattern near food sources. This makes hunting fun, and at times very exciting when the deer have grouped up. The problem most hunters face is not being able to sit long enough in this less than desirable weather.
The toughest thing about hunting freezing weather is keeping your body warm so you can focus at the task at hand which is hunting for deer. Once your body gets cold, you stop focusing on hunting and more on staying warm. There is nothing worse than that feeling of figuring out how to warm up. Because of the synthetic inner and outer gear available for hunters it is now easier for hunters to stay warm than it has been in the past.
The arms, hands, neck and face are the toughest for me to keep warm. I have to wear less clothing on these areas of m body to be able to shoot well.
Late in the season I almost always wear bibs over my pants. Bibs enables me to keep my body warm and able to wear a lighter weight jacket that keeps my arms smaller. This makes it easier to draw my bow and reduces the chances of the bow string slapping against my arm. High quality long underwear with a windproof outer garment is often enough to keep warm.
During the summer I am able to shoot as well as Robin Hood while wearing my t-shirt, but that all changes when I get on stand and have my hunting garb on. That is why I stress the importance in practicing in real life hunting situations. You make look a little silly to your neighbors shooting your bow in August wearing a facemask and gloves but it is vital to good shooting.
I cannot shoot a bow with heavy gloves on therefore I wear lightweight gloves from the beginning of the season to the end. To combat the cold weather I use a hand muff stuffed with hand warmers and my hands stay comfortable.
The neck and face is a challenge for me to keep warm. A consistent shooting form is important and I must be able to feel the string against my cheek. I wear a facemask that is very good at keeping me face and neck warm. I have got in the habit of when I spot a deer I want to shoot approaching my position I simply pull down my mask and expose my face that is covered with camouflage makeup. This allows me to stay concealed and be able to feel the sting. With a deer approaching I never notice the cold on my face.
Hopefully by now you have a good idea the best ways to stay warm that will keep you hunting long enough to kill a deer. Now let’s figure out how to accomplish our goal.
Concentrate on hunting available food. If you can find high-calorie foods such as acorns, beechnuts, standing crops or grains left in the fields after harvesting is done, you have probably found the main source of food for the deer. Instead of walking trails and eating as they walk, deer will concentrate on any food that is easily available to them. Bucks will not be found wandering around aimlessly through the woods, but will instead take a straight path from bedding areas to feeding areas, and back to their bedding areas again.
This is the time of the year when deer will eat foods that they normally would have passed on earlier in the season. Keep in mind that movement patterns could change from year to year depending on the food that is available.
Hopefully you are fortunate enough to have a late-winter food plot available to hunt. Many wildlife seed companies offer special blends for late winter food plots. Winter wheat, rye and brassica are good choices of food that deer love. After the first frost, the starches in these plants turn to sugar that deer cannot seem to resist.
Even though you have found food, deer still require water. Rely on the scouting you did in the preseason to locate water. When the weather turns cold, ponds and lakes will freeze over. The best option is to find water that is moving fast enough to prevent freezing.
I prefer to hunt from the ground when pursuing whitetails late in the season. Hunting from the ground allows me to easily switch hunting locations when the wind turns around and starts to blow from the “wrong” direction. It is also good to be versatile when the whitetails have switched from one source of food to another. With time running out to kill a deer, hunting from the ground is much quicker and easier than moving to a new stand.
As deer season nears its end, it is a great time to hunt whitetails as they are getting into their winter patterns, but success will come hard. Take a close look at the clothing you are wearing and hunt the food. I have seen good bucks shot that had nothing on their mind but finding the next bite to eat. When their guard is down is a good time to be in the woods when many hunters are in front of the fire place.