Late Season Hunting, Never Quit! - #4 "MOBILE MINUTE" FT. GREG STAGGS

December 22, 2022 4 min read

Late Season Hunting, Never Quit! - #4 "MOBILE MINUTE" FT. GREG STAGGS

Never Quit - No One Relives the Glory Days of Sitting on the Couch 

By: Greg Staggs 

If you’ve still got a buck tag left in your pocket, you’re probably feeling the crunch. I get it. I’m right there with you.

Oh, I’ve had plenty of bucks in range this season. In late October, I had a double main-beam buck saunter by at 17 yards while I was set up on an oak flat attempting to catch deer staging up before heading to the ag fields about 400 yards away. He was a dandy, and the first buck with a double main beam on one side I’d ever seen in the woods. But he was only a 3.5-year old, and after all the big bucks I’ve been blessed to wrap my tag around, I’m just a little beyond that in my hunting career. Hopefully he makes it to next year and reproduces that same awesome character trait; I’d love to see him as a 4.5-year old.

Most of us have been sitting good funnels or travel routes between bedding areas, or perhaps a fresh scrape line in anticipation of intercepting a cruising buck looking for a hot doe. But those areas aren’t likely to produce any more heading into late December and January. It’s rare the doe that’s still in estrus, and even the bucks are starting to exhibit brotherly love again. Reproduction isn’t the driving factor any longer… it’s food. For most of the month of November, mature bucks weren’t thinking with their brain, and consequently food was pretty low item on the totem pole. But now there seems to be a sudden awareness of how depleted they are – especially in the face of the brutal temperatures that are almost certainly about to sweep across much of their range.

As food becomes the primary destination for travelling bucks, so should yours. It’s no small secret that I’m a huge fan of cut corn fields, but when the temps start demanding that you put multiple layers of clothing on, I seek out those fields that have native grasses thriving in their midst. A farmer planting winter wheat to help with soil erosion in a cut bean field can become a bona fide deer magnet in late December and January. But don’t think it’s going to be easy.

Last year, I ran trail cameras where I was hunting for the first time in … well, almost 30 years. It’s not that I don’t believe in what cameras can do for you, but I’m a public-land hunter and I hate getting stuff stolen. I decided to risk it and put a few out, and it wasn’t long before I identified a nice 8-pointer that I’d be happy to wrap my tag around. I got pics of him going back to bed in his core area and hitting a field-edge scrape shortly after dark on the other side of a field with fresh green shoots of grass emerging.

Four separate times in late December and early January I laid eyes on him entering that field – all on a different trail, and all perhaps 50 yards out of bow range. With three days left in the season, he was the last buck of five to enter the field on a bitterly cold afternoon. I was bundled up with as many clothes as I could wear and still pull my saddle on over them. I’d been standing on the top of my stick for two hours when he finally begin feeding my direction. Sixty yards, then 50… 45 and quartering to me but still moving ahead. Just a few more minutes. I put tension on the bowstring and held the bow at the ready.

A couple more steps and I’d be able to clear that front shoulder with ease… and suddenly he threw up his head in full alert posture, scanning the woods directly in my direction. What happened? Then I realized it. I had inadvertently sniffed with everything draining from my nostrils in the icy conditions. A simple sniff. It didn’t take long. He didn’t second-guess himself. He turned and trotted far out into the field, safely out of bow range. Brutal temps bring new problems for sure.

The need for good entry and exit routes become magnified. Entry is usually easy. Having a solid exit strategy when hunting a food source that may have over a dozen deer milling around takes some serious planning.

Stay mobile. Don’t hunt the same tree, even at the same food source. Remember, the element of surprise will STILL be your biggest advantage.

But most of all, stay in the game. Never quit. Because no one relives the glory days of staying home and laying on the couch.

ABOUT: Greg Staggs is a frequent feature writer for Petersen’s Bowhunting among other magazines, and for many years he was the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery. His mobile-hunting videos are extremely popular on his YouTube channel, Staggs in the Wild, and you can read some of his past feature articles and numerous blogs at staggsinthewild.com.



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