November 25, 2023
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A few weeks ago, this fall's deer hunting season was young and full of early season promise as the starter's gun sounded and opened up the 2023 whitetail season. It's been a fun run through the weeks that have followed, including the full-blown circus of the November rut.
We're now fading into the season's final push toward the finish line as the rut has slipped by and much of what's left now are cold days, chilly winds and the bare woods of November and beyond.
But the post-rut doesn't mean that all hope is lost. Just ask Sherman Wyman, a North Texas deer hunter who sat in a hunting blind on Christmas Eve a few years back near the Red River. It's a good thing he was there, as he saw a reopened scrape and hoped for a little secondary rutting magic Wyman unwrapped a gift to himself by tagging a monster non-typical buck that net scored 226 4/8 inches.
Yeah, the late season can be good for deer hunters who refuse to quit, especially if they've got the right gear to wait out Mr. Big for one final curtain call. If you're a part of the hardy crew still dreaming big, here's some of what you need to turn late-season hopes into freezer-filling reality:
Staying Warm and Dry
There's little doubt that staying comfortable and alert is the key to any late-season deer hunting effort. While it's hard to argue about the foundational worth of a YETI 26-oz. Rambler Bottle filled with hot coffee, hot chocolate, or even chicken soup, there are other needs in staying warm and dry. I've come to rely on Sitka Gear's Fanatic Jacket and Fanatic Bibs to keep my body warm and happy when the weather is frosty.
Other great clothing options for the late-season hunter include KUIU's Proximity Hooded Insulated Jacket and Proximity Insulated Pant; ScentLok's Alpha Elite Series lineup, ScentBlocker's Whitetail Pursuit Series collection; Drake Waterfowl System's Non-Typical Stand Hunter's Silencer Jacket and Silencer Bibs; and Nomad's Harvester Collection of late-season gear.
How about hunting boots? Well, when cold fronts are plunging south, El Nino's chilly rainstorms are dotting the weather radar, or snow/sleet/ice are falling furiously from a northern sky, it's tough to beat the NOSHO Ultra Hunt Cold-Conditions Hunting Boot from Dryshod USA, a boot that brings 100 percent waterproof abilities thanks to its neoprene/rubber construction along with multiple layers of cold-blocking technology hidden inside.
A Hunter's Prying Eyes
To notch a late-season tag, you're likely going to be hunting a food source and that will mean sitting perched around a food plot, a wheat field, or a soybean patch. If the weather is particularly nasty, you might opt for a hard-bodied blind option like the Redneck Stalker Platinum 360 Blind or Muddy's Gunner Box Blind. If it's a bit milder, a pop-up Primos Double Bull Surroundview Max Ground Blind or an easy to climb into Millennium L220 Double Ladder Stand are possibilities to fill the late-season bill.
It probably goes without saying that getting such a stand into the right spot is going to depend on proper late season whitetail Intel, the kind you can glean the old fashioned way by using a set of Bushnell Fusion X 10X42 Rangefinding Binoculars, optics that are particularly useful scouting from the truck or judging distances for a rifle or muzzleloader shot across a food source.
If you're bowhunting a late-season bruiser, a set of Bushnell Engage EDX 8X42 binoculars can help you see clearly over a small kill plot, not to mention gathering in all available light thanks to these optic's EDX multi-coated prime glass that is perfect for intimate, low-light, backwoods settings.
And don't forget to incorporate the modern method of fine-tuning a late-season stand location by using trail cameras like the Moultrie Mobile Edge or Bushnell Cellucore cell cam systems, which can help you scout effectively anywhere, anytime, all from the palm of your hand.
Calling All Deer
I've saved this vital topic for last, but it's certainly not least. Partly because there aren't many weeks during deer season that you'll want to leave a way to call deer—with a grunt call and/or a set of rattling antlers—back at the house. While it might be true that blind calling with a grunt call is of lesser value now than it was earlier this fall, low-volume and soft grunts can still be important if you spot an old warrior silently slipping by. So even now, in the late days of the season, it pays to have a grunt call like a Flextone All-N-One Boned Up call, a Primos Hardwood Grunter, a Hunters Specialties True Talker OG Deer Call, to name a few.
The right time for rattling success could be now. That means a set of real antlers, a pair of good-sized sheds like I hunt and rattle with, or even a synthetic set of antlers are smart to pack for late-season deer hunting. The latter can include the likes of Primos Fightin' Horns, a set of Flextone Battle Bones, a Knight & Hale Pack Rack, or a Hunters Specialties Ruttin' Buck Rattling Bag, to name a few.