When the weather, habitat, and food sources fully shift to their winter phase, your hunting strategies should also shift to give you the best possible chance of success in the deer woods. On this episode I talk about how to hunt deer in January and what is unique about that month in the whitetail season.
January is a unique time of the deer season. Everything is different in how the woods look and feel. The cover is gone, the food is scarce, the days are short, and the air is cold. Deer are very much huntable, but they are not in the same places doing the same things they were during the rut.
Shorter days means less daylight movement, but the deer are still there. In order to hunt them you must see things through their eyes and understand their core needs, namely food and cover. Finding food sources is more important now than ever and finding food near any kind of cover is like finding gold now that woods are bare and empty.
Deer are also less stressed as the busiest time of the hunting season has passed, however due to how wide open the woods are, spooking deer at this time of the season can send them running far away where they might discover better places to hang out. Stealth is of the essence.
If you are hunting deer in January you must realize that the deer are less forgiving. If you make a mistake or push the deer, those particular deer may not return for days or weeks. The season could be over by the time you get another chance at them. This doesn’t mean other deer may not come around but the bottom line is they are more skittish and have to run further in order to find reasonable cover so that they feel safe again.
So strategy and tacks need to change when hunting this time of the year. However, if you are willing to make a few adjustments and hunt this part of the season for what it is, you can be very successful in the deer woods. For some people, this is their favorite time to be out.
Listen to podcast episode for all the info.
If you ask a trophy hunter and a butcher how long you should wait to recover a shot deer, you may get different answers. Each has different goals, and there are pros and cons to the advice of each. But you need to be aware of both sides to help determine what is best for you.
Here is the episode of mentioned about how to track a wounded deer.
Trophy Hunter. You’ve seen them on TV, YouTube or elsewhere; professional hunters who shoot truckloads of bucks every year. They have a very admirable quantity; they want to recover the deer at all costs. It is a good philosophy, one that many hunters need more of. But the big question is what do they define as recovering the deer? Recovering the antlers at all costs is one thing, recovering the meat is not the same thing.
Butcher. The deer processers and professional butchers are not often on TV, few people ask for their advice, and few people even think about what they have to say. Butchers do their job after the deer is recovered and professional hunters are recovering the deer so why talk to the butcher about it? The answer is obvious, the butcher will handle and process more deer than the professional trophy hunter ever will. No one cares more about the meat than the butcher and no one has more to say about when you should recover a deer than a good butcher.
Listen to this episode as I share insights I have gained after hearing from several professional butchers who are also hunters.
December can be one of the hardest months to hunt deer, but if you know how to leverage the unique elements of this phase of the season to your advantage, you can be very productive! On this episode I talk about what you need to know to have success hunting deer in December.
Come December and the rut is over, bucks are worn out from the rut and spend most of the daylight hours bedded down resting and eating. Does find themselves scrambling to put on pounds for the winter. Deer are behaving differently and are harder to hunt. If that were not enough, many states place their firearms deer season at around this time frame putting tremendous hunting pressure on these deer.
Cover is also changing and as grass dies and leaves fall, the places deer can hide well become more and more scarce. Couple that with shorter and shorter days and deer can much more readily wait out the shorter daytime in order to move and feed at night. They become food focused and cover obsessed. By the second or third day of the hunting season, the entire deer herd can seem like it has become nocturnal.
This is the most difficult time of the year to hunt whitetails. But hope is not lost. If you know what to do and how to hunt you can still find success and maximize the time you spend in the woods to get the best odds for your hours.
The trick is to know when and where to hunt. Because going to an October or November spot or hunting at September hours will not produce results as well in December. Deer can become like a different animal at this point in the season, some of it is natures timing and some is the result human pressure and influence.
Listen to the podcast episode to get the tactics and strategy you need to make the most of December hunts.
Hunting deer during the rifle season should be easier and simpler than it is, but there are two big things that complicate it. On this episode I share tips and strategies to overcome the big hurdles of the gun season and help you become one of the 20% of hunters that take 80% of the deer.
One of the challenges of rifle season is natural, it is habit and habitat change. This time of year cover has become sparse, feeding and bedding patterns are in flux, and deer find fewer places to hide and eat. They are more alert and have fewer places they can be secure. Combine this will the end of the rut and whitetail bucks are tired, less active, and more focused on resting.
The bigger challenge however is the orange army. The woods fill with hunters, deer are overrun, pushed around, shot at, spooked, and disrupted. Their paranoia is amplified and very quickly they will find themselves moving less and less, waiting for the safety of darkness. There is nothing we can do to stop this. But we can account for it, and even us it to our advantage.
Listen to the podcast episode to hear the 5 tips for overcoming these challenges to be successful hunting dear in the gun season.
Everyone deer hunter needs to develop a basic and realistic ability to track a wounded deer. Some of it will come from experience but much of it can be learned and you do not need special powers or training to get proficient at it. On this podcast episode I share some basic principles for how to track a wounded deer for regular people.
Tracking a deer is all about looking for three main things, blood, tracks, and disturbed environment.
- Blood: If you inflicted a mortal wound on a deer it will almost always cause a significant amount of observable bloodloss. There are a few exceptions, but most fatal hits will provide enough blood to follow.
- Tracks: Deer have feet, no matter where they go, their feet will hit the ground, often leaving observable evidence they are there. And a running deer produces deeper footprints then a cautious or slow-moving animal.
- Disturbed Environment: If a whitetail is fleeing it will often leave visible sign that it passed beyond footprints. It will disturb leaves and dirt, it will push over, trample, or effect grasses, weeds, brush, etc. Even on dry days with hard ground and no blood trail, it can be possible to see where a deer ran if you are mindful of what to look for.
Angles, sunlight, shade, and point of view all play into being able to notice these signs. If you see nothing, perhaps you need to look at things differently; get lower, get more light, use your nose, move more slowly, etc.
When all else fails, using intuition and a simple grid search can help you recover a lost animal. A systematic back and forth in a grid pattern can help you find sign and fallen deer when the trail has run cold. Not all deer are recoverable, but most are and with a little focus and some strategy you can often find your whitetail. You may also need a little courage to knock on neighbors’ doors and ask them if you can follow the deer’s trail onto their property as well.
Listen to the episode for all of the details.
November is the best time of the year to hunt deer! It is also the worst time… November is the stuff that dreams are made of in the deer woods. On this episode I talk about how November is unique and how to hunt it effectively, both the amazing first half of the month during the peak rut and the terrible last portion of the month which is the post rut lock down.
November has 2 main hunting phases
- The Peak Rut – This is the golden window when wonderful things happen. Deer are moving, bucks are searching for does, things can happen at any hour of the day, and in places where you have not seen much action before.
- The Post Rut Lockdown – This is worst time for hunting of the year. Bucks are exhausted from the rut and essentially bed down almost all day and eat through the night trying to recover their strength. Opportunities here are extremely limited and often hunting pressure extends this normally brief period of time.
In November you can hunt deer effectively using almost any strategy such as ambush hunting from a tree stand or ground blind. You can also still hunt deer at almost any time of day during the early phase. Deer drives can be used effectively in the later portion of the month. And walking into the woods and sitting against a tree can also be effective.
The big key is identifying which phase of the hunting season is going on in your area and then matching the right strategy, timing, and location to it. In general, anywhere you can find cover and food is likely to be a prime deer area. However never go solely on habitat potential, you always want to hunt sign. Find where the deer really are or really have been and then select a strategy to hunt them there.
Listen to the podcast episode to hear the details of these two phases and what you can do to hunt each one most effectively.
This season I have heard of people making the same mistakes over and over when picking their deer hunting spot. Now that the rut is here, it is time to correct that error and pick much better and more productive hunting spots, be them on the ground or in a tree stand. On this episode I go in depth to explain this big mistake and the many ways you can improve your hunt by correcting it.
Where you setup make a big difference when it comes to taking game. It is the single most strategic decision you can make. Picking a spot where you can see deer is not the same as picking a spot where you can take deer. You have got to focus 100% on the latter. Seeing deer does nothing to put venison in the freezer.
Always focus on selecting stand and blind locations where you can take deer home. And as more hunters begin to fill the woods you need to also take into account how their activities impact deer movement and help or hurt you. Always work to leverage their activity to your advantage as well.
Listen to the podcast episode to hear the one huge tip!
October can be one of the best times to be in the woods, but ALOT is happening and changing this month. If you can flow with the changes and use them to your advantage, you can excel. If you keep trying to do the same thing all month, your effectiveness is going to diminish. On this episode I talk about how to get the most out of hunting deer in October.
- The days go from long to short
- The weather goes from warm to cool
- The cover goes from dense to thin
- The deer go from social to ready to fight to the death
- The places deer spend time go from summer patterns to fall
- The times of day bucks are most active goes from evening to morning
- The hunting pressure goes from zero to heavy
- The focus of deer goes from munching to breeding
- The strategy of most hunters from bad to worse
If you know how to manage all of these changes and use them to your advance, this can be your most productive month in the woods!
Listen to the episode for all the details.
The early season has several distinct advantages that can help you find quick success in the deer woods. Too many people look to luck when they should be looking to preparation. On this episode I talk about three tips that helped me shoot my buck during this deer hunting season.
All of these tips can be summarized in one word, preparation. Once you get into your tree stand or hunting blind, the vast majority of factors that can contribute to your success are behind you. Yes, you still need to do many things well to be quiet, still, smart, judge distance, take good shots, etc. But those things can only happen if deer have a reason to get within range of you.
Preparation is the unfair advantage that often makes the difference between seeing nothing and consistent success.
Listen to this episode for the three tips that helped me land my early season buck this year. Photo below.
Everyone would rather hunt deer smarter vs. harder, but the big question is not that, it is to hunt smarter vs. hunting more. And that choice is not as easy of a choice for everyone to make. Some want to be successful as soon as possible, tag out, and be done for the season. Others want to hunt all season long. Either is fine, and both could be done smartly, but often that is not the case.
- Hunting smarter involves putting yourself in a position to take deer regularly, it involves strategy, scouting, timing, and terrain.
- Hunting more or longer is often a result of one of 3 things, looking for the biggest deer possible, not hunting smart, or bad luck.
- Hunting smarter not only results in more chances to take game, but being more ready when the opportunity comes.
- You can have the best of both, because there is more than deer in the woods to hunt. You can tag out early and then go after other game.
- No one should ever feel like being successful early takes you out of the woods, it should just shift what you are hunting for.
- Listen to the episode to hear it all!