Late Season Whitetail Hunting Tips to Be Successful

Late Season Whitetail Hunting Tips | It’s Not Too Late!

With the end of the calendar year creeping up fast, there is one painful reminder on everyone’s minds: the end of deer season is quickly approaching too. But if you haven’t been lucky enough to take a mature buck (or even a doe for some venison), it’s not too late. Late season deer hunting can be tough – there’s no doubt about it. But it can also be really good. And with the end of the season in sight, what do you really have to lose? If you are in this situation, here are some late season whitetail hunting tips to point you in the right direction.

Late Season Deer Behavior

The challenge with hunting late season bucks is that they are very wary animals, especially compared to when you were hunting the rut. In general, mature bucks have become old deer because they know how to elude us humans. But after months of observing us enter and exit the woods, and maybe even getting shot at, you can be sure they are onto our tactics.

One of the best late season whitetail hunting tips is to really focus on scent elimination. A wise old whitetail definitely will not come into range if he smells your fresh scent trail. Before and while you’re hunting, make sure to use Dead Down Wind® scent elimination products to remove your human odor. This isn’t the time to get sloppy about scent control.

Overcoming the Conditions

The biggest hurdle most people face with late season hunting is beating the weather and staying warm. Depending on where you hunt, the mercury can really nose dive and the winds usually pick up. It’s tough to hunt for very long in those conditions, at least if you’re not prepared. You’ve probably been there before – shivering in a tree, questioning your sanity, checking the clock every 15 minutes…all of that takes away from your hunting concentration. Plus, you can’t kill a deer if you climb down before they get there.

In these cold late season conditions, you really can’t beat the Heater Body Suit® for its ability to keep you in the stand or blind. Traditional hunting clothing doesn’t offer the same insulation value, and it’s a pain to cart in several heavy garments to your tree stand. Simply pack the rolled-up body suit with you and wear lighter clothing so you don’t get sweaty and spread scent everywhere. When you’re in your tree stand and connected with a Hunter Safety System®, pull the body suit on and nestle in for some very comfortable hunting until the end of shooting light. If you’re wondering what late season whitetail hunting tips many professional hunters and outfitters would give you, this would be it.

Choose Your Hunting Locations Well

Deer hunting in the late season is similar in some ways to hunting early season bucks. During the late deer hunting season, bucks have one big weakness: food. With all of their chasing, breeding, and fighting earlier this fall, many bucks have lost a good chunk of their body mass. They need calories fast to put some weight back on before winter really sets in. You can use that weakness to your advantage.

First, find some good food sources that are attracting deer. That might include standing corn or soybean fields, fields with grains as cover crops, or food plots. During the middle of the day, sneak in and hang several trail cameras (Covert Scouting Cameras® are a great option) near the food source along deer trails. After a couple days, you should have a good idea which deer are using it and whether there are any you would like to pursue. Try slipping back in during the day and hanging a stand. Typically, late season hunting is best in the evening near food sources – near, but not directly on them. As easy as it sounds, this could be one of the best late season whitetail hunting tips to help you seal the deal.

We hope you can use these late season whitetail hunting tips to put a buck on the ground yet this 2018 deer season. There are all kinds of deer hunting secrets out there, depending on who you ask. But these deer hunting tips should definitely help. 

Hinge-Cutting for Deer Habitat

Improve Your Deer Habitat with Hinge-Cutting

Quality time in the woods can mean a lot of different things to different people, but one thing is for sure, the condition of habitat can sure improve the value of the time you invest in what you love. Deer hunters understand the value of excellent habitat, the health of the deer herd, and the amount of time deer spend in a specific area. A small parcel of perfect habitat is worth more than acres and acres of poorer country that doesn’t hold deer. Working to improve the terrain you invest your hunting time in not only creates better hunting, but it forms a bond between the hunter and the land. Roots run deep when hunters contribute to their country and in turn the hunt.

Oftentimes, hunters can invest some weekend sweat equity into their hunting locations, and with a few simple techniques improve the deer habitat and the hunt. Don’t be afraid to get out into the woods early, before season, and get dirty. A little sweat and grease never hurt anyone, and with a few simple tools you can really do some good. Roll up your sleeves, put on your work boots, and pull on a pair of gloves to create some habitat improvements that will last for years to come. Tooled up with a simple limb saw, crosscut saw, or a chainsaw; you can spend a little time and make a big difference by hinge-cutting timber strategically.

What is Hinge-Cutting?

Hinge cutting is an easy to perform micromanagement habitat modification technique that is quick to achieve and cost effective. The technique involves cutting through an established tree part of the way until the tree lays over while still being partly attached to the root structure. Hinge cutting quickly creates a living horizontal habitat that deer love for browse and cover. Hinging timber has multiple effects, and multiple uses. 

Bedding Areas

The horizontal cover created by hinge-cutting creates screening cover, adding security to bedding areas. Deer seek low covered secluded areas that offer hidden bedding areas for rest during daylight hours. Hinge-cutting provides the natural horizontal cover deer are looking for.

Canopy Management

Whitetail deer are natural browsers, seeking weeds, forbes, and legumes as their feed of choice. Heavily timbered areas on your hunting property create a thick canopy that blocks out the nourishment of the sun’s rays. By hinge-cutting openings in the canopy and allowing the sun onto the forest floor, you can create small grazing areas that deer will love. Another plus of canopy management is bringing down the succulent leaves of trees that deer like to feed on. When properly done, hinge cut tree tops will sprout new leaves for many seasons, offering terrific browse.

Travel Corridors and Funnels

Deer are often creatures of habit, traveling the same areas and even pathways time after time. Pre-rut and post-rut bucks can be patterned with some work and care to consider the wind. Hinge-cutting vertical timber into horizontal cover is a great strategy for creating pathways, directing deer travel, and establishing travel corridors in your hunting area.

Cutting Method

Consistently achieving successful hinge cuts takes a little practice and care in the cutting method. Cutting downward at a 45-degree angle produces the best results. Effective hinge cuts are generally made from knee to waist high. Cut ⅔ to ¾ of the way through the tree trunk, cutting just enough to free the top of the tree to fall or be pushed to the ground. Take care to plan your cuts, directing where the tree top will fall.

When and What to Cut

Flexible timber, and woods that don’t split well for firewood make an excellent choice for hinge-cutting. Soft species like elm and poplar are ideal candidates for hinge-cutting. Young saplings and smaller trees with a lot of new growth are the right size for hinge-cutting. Hinge-cutting is a practice that is best to do when the weather is warm and tree fluid is in an active state. Cold temperatures can cause trees to become hard and brittle with a greater chance of breaking and killing the top of the tree.

Putting it All Together

Put in the Work

Hunters who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and put in a little work can reap the benefits of habitat improvement, and hinge-cutting timber blocks is a great start. By selecting the right species and size of timber during warm weather you can effectively influence multiple aspects of your hunting property. Hinge-cutting, when done correctly is a great investment of time and resources with a huge payback.

Don’t Fail to Plan

Hinge-cutting is a simple strategy that can positively affect your deer habitat in many ways. Don’t rush in, chopping random trees, but instead take into consideration: bedding habitat, tree canopy, travel corridors, tree species and size when you’re planning your hinge-cutting.

Keep the Hunt in Mind

Don’t let the warm weather and power tools go to your head. It’s important to keep the plan and goal in mind. The end game here is deer hunting, and putting in some work to make this season, and seasons to come more successful. Be ever mindful of your hunting strategy and how it will change throughout the season. Keep in mind details like wind direction, stand placement, food plots, travel ways, and how you plan to get into and out of the hunting area.

It won’t be long until the days grow short and whitetail bucks are in the rut. Hunters all across the nation will be dreaming of time in the woods, taking vacation days, and longing for cold fronts. Some forethought, planning, and muscle in late summer and early fall will go a long way to putting your tag on a deer this season. Whether you are a trophy hunter hoping for a chance at a heavy racked bruiser, a hunter hoping to put meat on the table for your family, or somewhere in between; you can be sure that improving your deer habitat with hinge-cutting will better your chances either way.