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Why Food Is Key Late in the Season

Overall Activity Status: A change of scenery has a way of sparking new energy into a tough deer season. I spent the last three days hunting a friend’s place near Abilene, Texas. Three of us hunted each morning and evening, and we saw between 3 and 10 bucks each every time. Most of the hunting was from elevated tower blinds near corn feeders. The bucks were really focused on the free food, refueling now that it is post rut in that area. The landscape there is comprised of mesquites, prickly pear cactus, yuccas and abundant broom weed. The area has no oaks and thus no acorns, making corn feeders effective in the late season. There is not much native feed for deer between December and March, so ranches in that area that supplement or have food plots will hold and grow healthier bucks.
 
Fighting: One friend watched two small bucks duke it out on a morning hunt on December 18. The other, older bucks standing nearby paid the fighters little attention.
 
Rubs/Scrapes: Driving across the mesquite and prickly pear-covered landscape on my friend’s lease, it was exciting to see fresh rubs for the first time. I did not see any scrapes, but several rubs on trees as big around as my forearm looked fresh.
 
Chasing:
None of us saw any chasing or for that matter, any doe to buck interaction whatsoever. Bucks were basically separate from does and vice versa.
 
Daytime Movement: We saw the most buck activity during the first hour in the morning and again in the afternoon, starting around 3-4 o’clock.
 
The morning of December 17 was cold and windy. At daybreak, seven bucks were visible inside 200 yards from my elevated blind. A wide-antlered 8-point caught my eye. I studied him for a long while, wanting to make sure he was old enough and his rack unbroken. Finally, I took the shot at 8:30 a.m. from 90 yards. The hard-hit buck stumbled a short distance and tipped over. I used a new Nosler Professional rifle chambered in .25-06 to make the shot. The white-horned buck had long G-2s and G-3s, but short brow tines. His white rack scores about 133 inches. I’m beyond excited to finally have a fat whitetail buck at the processor. Can’t wait for the jerky, German sausage and tasty steaks for the grill.
 
In three days of hunting, from several different blinds, I never saw a single doe at a feeder. My two friends reported the same—only bucks at the corn feeders. Does were randomly sighted as we drove back and forth to the blinds.
 
Estrous Sign: None to report.

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