Whitetail Hunting photo
Photo by Charles Alsheimer

The Guide: Joe Gizdic
Tall Tine Outfitters (talltineoutfitters.net), Roodhouse, Ill.

His Secret
“Get aggressive for the biggest late-season deer. And don’t second-guess yourself.”

Waiting on a major food source works now, says Joe Gizdic, but he loves to get aggressive. “Some of those really smart late-season bucks will not come out to a field or plot during daylight. When I get to hunt, I go after these bucks.”

A perfect example, he says, was a 240-inch nontypical he hunted last year. Gizdic had planted 3 acres of beans with the sole purpose of putting a client on this buck in the late season, but the deer would not come out no matter how cold it got.

Odds are a buck like this is hitting a secondary food source in the woods—acorns, soft mast, or browse—until dark, Gizdic explains. “So I walked into the timber and found a brushy draw littered with honey-locust pods. I figured it had to be where he was hanging up.”

Gizdic warns that your approach has to be spot-on when you move in on a late-season buck. Give yourself plenty of time to hang a stand silently and pick a spot with cover that shields you in the direction of the buck’s likely bedding area. Most important, set up where you can kill the buck, not just see him; you may not get another chance.

“I learned that lesson the hard way,” admits the guide. “I had two good stand trees to choose from and I picked the more conservative one.” A half hour before dark, the monster rose from his bed and walked right under the other tree. “He just locked up, eating like a cow.” He eventually worked his way to the beans on a different trail, right at dark, and Gizdic never got another chance at him. “I’ve killed other good bucks this way, but you should learn from my mistake: If you decide to get aggressive, go all the way.”