Well, hopefully your season’s already been a success, but if not, don’t give up! December can be a great month to fill your tag. Here are 5 more tips to help you this month in your quest for consistent success on big bucks:
- Entry and Exits
November can be that “pick any tree” kind of month, and “over-hunting” your spots isn’t as big a deal, but now that we’re in December, you’d better believe it matters again. How you enter and leave your spots is as important as your spot itself. The buck I shot above came from a big woods spot I hunted a few days ago. Because it’s very hilly and all wooded with loud, crunchy leaves, my best spot is literally a stone’s throw from the old gravel road I drive in on because getting in and out undetected is easy and affords me more quality sits.
- Hunt Sparingly
Because of a lack of foliage and often the presence of snow, late season makes spots very sensitive. It’s hard for the deer to not know you’re there. Pay close attention to your surroundings and limit your sits in a given area and wind. If you have a lot of time to hunt, scout a lot and move around. If you have little time, make the most of it by moving in when conditions are right. Use cameras to tell you when deer are around your property. Don’t put them where you plan on hunting though. The moon peaks in the evening around the 18th this month so watch those days. Evening sits will often be your better bet.
- Find Food, But…
I hear a lot of guys saying, “Find the food and wait.” Well, if you’re hunting high pressure deer, camping out on food might just mean you’ll be waiting to fill your tag until next season! We talk about this a lot in our videos, but I firmly believe you need to focus more on your travel corridors between bedding and food, not just food. Depending on the terrain, this time of year isn’t usually good for getting in close on bedding areas, so use caution in how close you get. Every situation is different. If you’re watching bucks from a distance come into fields in daylight, by all means, there’s your answer. But if you’re not seeing them in daylight with the does, you’re going to have to do something different. Loud, crunchy leaves hurt your chances, but if you get a wet day, or quiet snow, use that to your advantage. If lots of does and younger bucks prevent you from getting in where you need to be, try to sit back and be patient. Watch for a chink in the armor and make your move when you feel it’s right.
- Focus on Quality Time in the Outdoors
Christmas and New Years means the kids are on break and home for a while. Take advantage of this by spending quality time with them! Whether it’s deer, duck, small game or steelheading, get them outdoors and enjoy your time with them. Appreciate every second because seconds don’t stop ticking. Invest in kids and you’ll be more rewarded than any big buck you could kill. I really enjoy the end of December for shooting a couple does for more meat for the coming year, and doing some home processing. I’ve been making my own snack sticks, jerky, canned venison, and sausages for several years now and it’s not only fun but much healthier and cheaper than the alternatives.
- Start Inventory for Next Year
Maybe you’re tagged out already, maybe not. Either way, by late December, most of the main gun seasons are over and getting a buck on camera is a pretty good indicator that you’ll have him to hunt next year, so take advantage before snow gets really deep and deer migrate far away from your hunting area and find out what survived the season.
- Bonus Tip: Staying Warm
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $400 for the latest “XT5-9’er-123” technology embedded jacket, although I admit, I’d sure love to try one of those new Milwaukee heated jackets or vests! I can’t speak to exactly how well those really expensive “systems” work, but I recommend sticking with a more economical layering system of down and wool. You need to stay mobile enough to draw a bow. I use a good base layer that wicks moisture, then a wool turtleneck sweater, then a down vest, then a wool jacket. On the coldest days, I’ll bring my lightweight backpacking bag in the tree with me and camo it with my decoy bag. Even just up to the waist or mid-chest, you’d be surprised how comfortable it is! Stay warm!
Mistakes to Avoid in December
The mistake most guys make in December is they quit! Stick with it, persistence gets rewarded! And, with the woods often wide open from snow and lack of foliage, hunters make entry and exit mistakes. Getting in and out without alerting deer is absolutely critical to success on a mature buck. Deer often group up more this time of year so you not only have to fool the buck, but you often have to fool a herd of does and youngsters before you even get a chance at the buck!
Good luck with your next buck!