It's getting down the wire. No doubt about that. But, as the saying goes, some of the best things are saved for last. And, well, if you're a deer hunter with unfilled tags left...there could be a new saying: Sometimes the last options are the, um, last options...

Here are four last-minute plans that actually work.

1. BREAKFAST IN BED

Buck caught on a Moultrie camera

For most of the year, a strong case can be made for not messing with those primary bedding areas that keep deer in the area you're hunting. But with the season coming to a swift end, it's time to take full advantage of those deer-holding locales.

Place a feeder right on the transition edge between bedding cover and other habitat types. If possible, utilize and ATV to do so. The odds of sneaking this close to a bedding area without alerting deer is very low. Thus, you want to do the opposite: Let those deer know you're coming and they won't have the same type of negative response as when being surprised near a bedding area.

Get the feeder in place and stoke it with enough food (I prefer good, old shelled corn) to last about a week. Now, at the same time (preferably with the ATV running the whole time) get your stand location set up.

Hang a trail camera and the trap is set.

I'll monitor the cameras remotely using the Moultrie Mobile system. Then, when I'm seeing daylight activity, I'll hunt the stand...and I'll hunt it in the mornings. Remember, you're right on the edge of a primary bedding area. Try to hunt that stand in the afternoons and you'll undoubtedly spook deer on your way in. But hunt that stand in the mornings and you'll catch deer as they filter back into bed.

2. FREELANCE YOUR AFTERNOON

Man carrying stand through woods

When temperatures dip, deer become fairly predictable. Afternoon sits over primary food sources are an effective tactic. But, often pinpointing the exact entry route deer are taking to food sources can be tough as they seem to have several options they use. Choosing the right stand location is sometimes a gamble. With only a couple of days left in the season, it's time to be bold.

With a climbing stand on your back, stake out in an area where you have good visibility of the food source — and be there early. The goal here is to see where the very first deer enter the field. Often, young does and fawns will be the first to show and they will show up well before older deer.

As soon as they hit the field, get up and get to that location. Yes, you'll bump those deer off the field. But if you plan your approach correctly, those deer will not run back into the bedding area they came from. Now you can set up exactly where the deer entered the field, you won't have alerted any other deer in the bedding area and odds are good that subsequent deer will follow the same path those first deer took later that evening.

3. HUNT THE PHOTOS

Buck caught on a Moultrie camera in the daylight

This may seem like common sense but, with just a few days left, this is not time to leave things to chance. During the late season, every single trail camera you own should be in the field and gathering intel.

I'll check every camera on the day I intend to hunt. Those cameras seeing the most activity are the locations I'll hunt. Waiting until the next day (or after you're done hunting for the day) to check the cameras may be more convenient but it's a sure-fire way to realize you wasted a precious day by hunting the wrong location.

4. SNEAK THE SNOW

Deer tracks

When the snow starts to pile up, deer sign becomes readily apparent. The best situation is when that snow cover is no more than 36 hours (or so) old. This is when I like to grab a climber and hit the woods midday.

Locating primary routes of travel is pretty easy when you have fresh snow to reveal them. I'm looking for the heaviest, most-used paths. Then I'll get the wind in my favor for the bedding area that I think those deer were headed to and scale a tree.

By getting close to the bedding area, you have an opportunity to catch deer as they mill about (this is especially effective on cold, sunny days) midday and, of course, when those deer get up in the afternoon to head for a primary food source for the evening.

 

About the Author: Tony Hansen manages for and hunts mature whitetails in his home state of Michigan, where sweating the details is the only way to succeed. When not hunting his own properties, he can be found pursuing deer on public land throughout the whitetail’s range. Tony’s writings have appeared in Outdoor Life, Traditional Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, and Bowhunter.