My favorite college football team, the LSU Tigers, have had a tendency this season to play tentatively and sometimes sloppily during the first half of a game. I get aggravated and am sometimes tempted to flip to the Outdoor Channel where hunters almost always get their game.
As the second half kicks off, the Tigers usually come out fired up and do a much better job in the second half. Why? The coaches changed the game plan to fit the situation.
Using this same analogy, deer hunters who have been seeing bucks chasing does during the peak of the rut are now seeing activity starting to wane in the deer woods. Once December rolls around in Area 2 of northwest Louisiana, the breeding period is just about over. Bucks begin making adjustments and if hunters expect to have success, a change in plans is called for as well.
What happens during the latter days of hunting season after the rut is over? Bucks aren’t chasing does, unless the few does not bred during the first estrous cycle are still available for breeding. Basically, it becomes a rather difficult game to play as the bucks, exhausted and worn down from breeding and fighting other bucks, become difficult to pattern. For many hunters, if they don’t get their deer early, they hang it up after the rut and head for the lake where they know the crappie are hungry and waiting.
David Moreland, who retired from the Deer Study Leader position with LDWF several years ago, offers suggestions as to the best way to hunt bucks late in the season.
“In Area 2, northwest Louisiana, early December generally marks the end of the rut. However, bucks may be looking for a few does that have not bred, but generally by mid-December, it’s over,” Moreland said.
This time of year in this part of the state, a game plan change is necessary to improve your chances at a good buck, according to Moreland.
“During mid to late November, hunting around the feeders may pay off as bucks move around looking for does. In early December, the trails through the woods leading to food plots and feeders are generally quite distinct and visible and this should be areas hunters ought to check out, determining where the deer are coming from and then locate a stand to catch the deer as they come to feed late in the evening,” Moreland added.
Another tactic that can work for tagging a late season buck, according to Moreland, is to move the feeder.
“I like to change a feeder location or hang a bucket feeder in an area where you have seen deer but not hunted. Keep in mind that prevailing winds this time of year are generally from the north-northwest so your stand location should be in the south-southeast corner of the area. Again, hunters should stay on their stands until last light,” he added.
Moreland also suggested that hunters might want to freshen up their food plots toward season’s end.
“With bucks going back to the feeding mode after the rut, you might want to consider adding some nitrate to the grass patches and keep them attractive. Also if the weather is good; clear and cold with high pressure, plan to stay on the stand longer than normal.”
What about native brows plants? Hunters should plan to utilize what Mother Nature has already put there.
“Since many of the woody shrubs and trees lose their leaves, the focus will be on those that still have them. Blackberry, privet and honeysuckle would be plants to look for since these will tolerate the cold temperatures and put out new growth on warm days. I have especially seen heavy use of honeysuckle in northwest Louisiana during late winter,” said Moreland.
Want to be on the winning team when it comes to getting a late season deer in your sight picture? Be adaptable. Make like the Tigers and change your game plan to correspond to what the deer are doing.