Last-minute December deer: Late-season bowhunting not easy, but so worth it
I don’t know how many times I’ve read articles about how easy late-season bowhunting is. The authors, almost without question, have access to the kind of property the rest of us can only dream about complete with standing beanfields, lush food plots, and the best part – no other hunters.
Out here in the real world, it’s not so simple. The find-a-food-source-and-sit-it strategy can apply, but it also might not. I’ve found over the years that my best bet for filling any tag in the waning days of December involves staging areas and a lot of scouting. Scratch that: It usually involves observation.
While the four-legged survivors possess vast quantities of caginess this time of year, they also happen to be fairly predictable. If you observe some does passing through a point of timber at last light tonight, they’ll probably do it tomorrow night unless for some reason you tipped your observing and glassing. Then all bets are off.
Moving in on them involves carrying in a stand, playing the wind, and hunting as soon as you can, provided the conditions are in your favor. This is the point when details really matter, because you’ll get very few do-overs, so if for some reason the setup doesn’t work, don’t push it. We’ve all set a stand that we feel is too visible, offers too few shooting lanes, or some other negative. At this point in the season, if that’s the case, it’s probably not going to work out well.
This is one of the reasons I use a climbing stand wherever I can. Although they can be somewhat noisy to erect and remove unless you really force yourself to go slow, they do allow for easier versatility as far as how high to sit and which direction to face. And if I get up 18 feet and realize the spot isn’t clicking, it’s a matter of eyeballing a new tree and starting over.
Late-season bowhunting demands work. It’s also the most rewarding time to fill a tag, in my opinion, simply because of the sheer difficulty of getting any deer to pose for a high-odds bow shot. If one does, however, it becomes well worth it. Good luck during these final days of December.