Nebraska’s late deer hunting season targeting antlerless white-tailed deer opens on New Year’s Day morning and continues through January 15. If you’ll be joining me in going afield for it, here are some tips to improve your chances for success.
FRONTS. Weather fronts, and particularly weather-makers, seem to greatly affect deer movement in the late season. Deer will feed heavily a day or two prior to the arrival of a cold front, and then for a couple days after one.
SNOW COVER. Snow cover brings many advantages to the late season deer hunter. The most obvious advantage of snow cover is that anything moving in it must leave tracks or droppings. Deer sign is much easier to see, follow, and interpret when made in the snow. Also, the timing of the snow tells you how recently the deer came through an area.
LATE AFTERNOONS. The early morning hours around sunrise can be downright frigid. Whitetails realize that they can conserve body heat by waiting to move to feeding areas until the afternoon. Hunt those late afternoon hours until the end of legal shooting time (30 minutes after sunset).
FOOD. White-tailed deer need lots of high energy foods in winter, everything from corn to acorns, to maintain body heat. So, find the food source deer are consistently using and the trails leading to these major food sources. Spontaneous set ups can work well. Play the wind and position yourself accordingly in a tree stand or ground blind for a good, safe shot.
BEDS. If you’re hunting bedding areas, check the south-facing slopes or any areas facing south. These areas are warmer as they are most exposed to the sun and offer protection from the bitterly cold north winds. Thermal cover such as dense woods, thickets and patches of cedars can be extremely appealing. Does tend to prefer these types of areas in winter.
LEAVING THEIR BEDS. From my field experiences, whitetails periodically leave their beds during the day to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, groom and perhaps browse. I make it my business to locate these secluded bedding areas as well as the main trails leading to and from them.
I hope these tips aid you (as they have me) in harvesting a white-tailed doe during the late season for wildlife management purposes, and of course, for the dinner table.
Good hunting and enjoy the experience!