Got a crossbow so I am out in the extended season trying to fill a doe tag. The only thing I got so far is lonely. Nothing seems to be moving. Hunted some nice days with warm weather for this time of year. Still nothing.
Anyone have any tips for harvesting a deer when they seem to have gone underground for the winter?
Patterns change. It's odd too. Could not get any deer up without some type of light push. Food sources different, behavior different. I hunt a golf course and I'd bet 100 dollars every evening there would be deer on the course every night last year during the late season and I'd be rich. Deer were all around early season this year and now...nada. They are there, but the numbers we see are lower. We have seen SOME coyotes on cam. Like two,
How many are there we dont know but they are a good 50 lbs if they are a pound . Deere seem to be tight to the houses around the course and we are unaware of any interlopers. They could just as easily be across the road on private property. It's an archery only area so gun blasting hasn't happened here either. Baffling.
I killed a 7pt the other day with crossbow. There were 5 does ahead of him, 2 adults and 3 fawns. This time of year it is mostly about calories. At that spot, they start hitting a "POSTED" weed field about 4pm on a sunny day, or earlier on overcast. After the field, they move into the housing development for shrubbery. There are really no farm fields to speak of there, so the deer are smallish. It was overcast and I caught them on the way through the woods at 330 or so. I knew something was likely coming from that way when I saw a pickup truck almost stop at the bottom of the dip, then inch forward for a few seconds. That was 200 yards and 45 minutes before they came through.
This was the easiest shot I've ever had on a buck. The does kept going but he stopped and stared at the stand, then up the hill to the house, back to the stand. He took another step and stamped his foot and looked at the stand again. He was looking at the ladder stand, the one that gets hunted most of the season and is a killer stand with the leaves up and acorns down. Unfortunately for him, I was above him and up the hill in my climber. These deer are well conditioned to everything, and with the long sight lines this time of year, I figured I'd use that against them, even though there are less shooting lanes. I shot, 20 feet down the tree plus a few for decline, and maybe 18 yards out. He bucked and ran down the hill past that ladder stand, and I could see blood gushing from both sides when he stopped and spun. He actually stayed up about 15 seconds after the shot, fighting till the end, but he only ran maybe 35 yards. The spitfire went in the left side through rib 8 and exited between 6-7, double lung with just one little 1/4" slice into the offiside arm meat. Cleanest-hit deer I have ever shot with an arrow. Of course, he was a big target; it is hard not to mess up any meat on a fawn or yearling.
Pattern the evening feed and ambush from an unexpected direction. It worked out for me.
Warmer temps keep them bedded more daylight hours, they don't need to feed as hard with this soft winter weather. We had easy weather here for far too long in December and the rigors of the rut are behind most of the buck here, doe are in good shape too. I have a good food source I can watch daily from the house and here at least, they have shut down since late the first week of the year. with this open weather, trail cams are showing night movement but 50 -60 degree days in January and they are bedded up tight in daylight. This weekend should have them on their feet, don't quit till it is over.
Food is the #1 thing this time of year and weather is a close #2. I always had great luck right before or right after a harsh snow storm or cold front. It's unreal how the deer know what's coming. Also, if you find the right spot you'll more than likely see more deer now than any other time of the year. They are all herded up and travel in big numbers to help with warmth and to have more eyes looking for predators. I tug out in archery but we just checked cameras and two of our studs just showed back up in the daylight this week. Big boys will be on there feet. Find the food and stay consistent.