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Late Buck Sign Appearing

Overall Activity Status: Last week's tumultuous weather included 70-degree days early in the week and a severe winter storm on Friday night that left the landscape encrusted with ice. Trail cameras and personal observation both proved that deer moved very little in that mess, but things changed after the storm broke. A walk through the woods yesterday to pull a trail camera card and check some potential late-season stand sites revealed a world of fresh deer sign and numerous daylight photos within the past two days.

Fighting: Nothing to report on the fighting end right now, although bucks are still flying solo.

Rub making: I found several fresh rubs yesterday, including the two big ones in the photo above.    

Scrape making: I found a pair of very fresh scrapes, too.

Chasing: I haven't seen anything yet or heard anything reported lately, but I expect some reports of secondary rut activity any day.  

Daytime movement: As mentioned, it's picked up the past couple days. I saw a nice buck on his feet three hours before the end of shooting light yesterday, and fields visible from the road were full of deer. Chris Ryan with the West Virginia DNR says that with a near mast failure in his state, deer are really visible on field-edge food sources right now. "Crop fields, hay fields, and any late-season food plots you have are all productive right now," he says.

Estrous signs: Nothing to report yet.

X Factor: Evening hunts. I love hunting mornings during the pre-rut and throughout the peak of the rut. Deer just seem to move better. And even though there is new buck sign appearing in the woods now and the promise of some secondary rut activity ahead, the truth is we're entering the late season when hunting directly over food sources becomes the best strategy.

The 60-degree difference in temperatures aside, late-season strategies mirror those in the early season in quite a few ways, including a renewed focus on evening-only sits. Just like in the early season, hunting the evenings lessens the chances of bumping deer en route to your stand. But it has other advantages as well—namely, it's not as cold. Sitting still is of paramount importance right now because there aren't any leaves on the trees to conceal you. And it's harder to sit still when you're shivering. 

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