3 Ways to Kill a Buck in the Last Weeks of Season

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These buzzer-beater tactics can help you tag a good one in late December or January

The rut can still influence buck behavior during the final days of the season. Image by Keith Bell

If you’re reading this blog, you’re either lucky (you shot a buck earlier in the season and you’ve got another tag burning your pocket) or you’re on a major downer (you haven’t gotten your buck yet and your buddies are riding you about it). Either way, we’re here with three ways to help you score at the final buzzer of deer season.   

Afternoons with Perfect Access

Afternoons around feed are always best in the late season, and perfect access to your stand or ground blind is critical. First, check and analyze the wind. It can’t blow or swirl back toward a nearby bedding cover or travel lane where does will pop out into the field or food plot you’re hunting. Set up where your scent will blow harmlessly back into a dead zone in the surrounding timber or grassland where no deer are apt come out. If just one spooky doe winds you and starts stamping and blowing, you won’t see a buck that night. Sneak into your post and set up in early afternoon, at least three hours before dark, so no deer will see or hear you coming.

Keep Doe Watching 

One afternoon in late December in Virginia, I saw a doe being dogged by three bucks, but the brush was too thick for a shot. I returned to the same tree stand the next morning. The doe worked back through from a nearby cornfield, followed by five bucks now, the next to last one a fat 8-point. I filled my last tag and feasted on venison for a year.    

The lesson: A secondary rut in late December or even January is unpredictable and impossible to time, but if you get lucky and hit it right this year, one last receptive doe in a patch of woods will draw little bucks and big ones too hoping for one last shot of fun. If you spot a hot doe, hunt that area hard for a couple of days in hopes a shooter shows up. 

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Stink Up the Joint

One December in Kansas, bowhunter B.J. Clement dug mock scrapes and laid scent trails with both estrus doe and dominant buck in a thick area where he knew a couple good bucks hung out after rifle season. 

When he went in to hunt his ground blind two days later, a buck or bucks had torn the place to shreds with huge rubs and scrapes. That evening a shooter started for B.J.’s blind, but the deer spotted a doe and took off after her like a shot. Bummer. But 30 minutes later, he saw the buck coming back. B.J. fired a perfect arrow, and the 12-pointer net-scored 182. 

That Kansas monster was still rutting, rubbing trees, and dogging a last hot doe like we talked about earlier. B.J.’s double scent strategy, which created the illusion of a late breeding zone, caused the big deer to hang in the area until the bowhunter got him. You ought to try it.