Year Round Approach to Big Bucks – 5 Tips for January

bitter cold bucks - bitter cold whitetail hunting in January

I included the picture above as extra motivation for the month. Season’s not over for some and if you’re lucky enough to still have an open bow season and an unfilled tag, it’s a great time to hunt! My friend, Jason Plant, shot this buck during a cold snap last January. There’s still time! Here are 5 more tips to continue our year-round approach at consistently shooting mature bucks.

  • Take Advantage of Cold Weather
    More than any time of year, a whitetail’s behavior will be dictated by his/her stomach. Watch the weather for cold fronts and be ready to make your move when it’s cold because that’s when the buck you’re after will most likely move in daylight.
  • Use Snow Like an Answer Key
    I’m not one to skip to the end of a book and read the answer key, but January is your answer key! Take advantage of the snow to get out and scout. This is the time to track a buck back to his bed and learn exactly how he moves and where he beds. Trust me, it’s not random. Pay attention to the wind, the time of day, the terrain. Learn everything you can about your bucks you’ll be hunting next fall. When you’ve done this a few times, it gets a lot easier to score in the fall!
  • Start Applying
    January is when some western states conduct their tag lotteries. If you’re interested in drawing premium unit tags in the future, start applying this month! Wyoming and Arizona are two that accept applications in January. I’m in Wyoming’s max point pool for deer and elk and look forward to a fun hunt out there in the not too distant future. Add a smartphone reminder through Siri or whatever you use so that you make a habit of applying now so that you can hunt later!
  • Squirrel!
    I’m thankful to be tagged out here in Michigan, and, deer season is over now anyway. So, January is a great month to go squirrel hunting with the kids! It’s great table fare, fun for kids and adults, and is another chance to go scout for next deer season.
  • Surf
    The internet, that is. It’s often cold and snowy this month. Worse yet, southern Michigan where I live is too often cloudy, rainy and muddy. Use this time to get on the internet and learn your spots via aerial maps like Google Earth. Visit hunting websites for states you’re interested in and strike up conversations with guys. There’s a lot of nasty out there anymore, but there are also a lot of good people willing to help. Make calls, send emails, post online, on Facebook etc. and learn as much as you can now so that when the weather’s good for scouting outside, you’re ready!
  • 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 January

It’s easy to sit around, be lazy, and watch football all month. Most guys have given up for the season. But January’s a great month for learning your land and researching future hunts. A small amount of time invested in learning for the future is time well spent this month!

Good luck with your next buck!

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