Wild Country Guide Service, Spokane, Wash.
“Late-season success is actually simple. You need to get in early and sit longer than most guys are willing.”
Whitetail hunters typically associate all-day sits with the rut, when a revved-up buck may run under a funnel stand at any time. But a similar approach can put you on the biggest bucks in the late season, says guide Gary Greenwalt. “By the time I can hunt, our deer are in post-rut, winter-feeding mode, and our food plots can suck in the best bucks from 5 or 6 miles away.” If temps are mild, mature whitetails will feed at night. “But when it’s cold—and I have years’ worth of trail-cam photos to prove it—those tired, hungry, older bucks will bed tight to the feed and walk into the plot at all hours of the day,” he says.
To tag one, you need to be there during the small window when a shooter decides to come out to grab a bite or to follow a late-cycling doe to the feed. “I wait until an hour after first light so that any dawn-feeding deer are off the plot and back in the timber. Then I crawl into a stand overlooking the feed and wait.” Whenever possible, Greenwalt sets up so that the wind blows his scent where deer are least apt to approach, such as a steep hill or ravine. “I know there are great bucks out there. That and some high-quality winter clothing make it easy to sit all day. I just enjoy the woods and let things unfold.”