Hop, Skip, Jump, Buck

Not sure which opening the deer will be feeding in? Hunt them all.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Taking a stand near a feeding field is a proven late-season tactic. But it can pay to be more mobile-as it did last year, when I found a tall-tined 10-pointer in the third field I checked one late afternoon.

Big bucks don't get big by being totally predictable. It's not unusual for a deer to visit different food sources from day to day. So if your buck isn't showing up where you think it should, or you're hunting a new area you didn't have time to scout, try staying on your feet and hunting not one but several feeding fields.

The trick is finding fields close enough together to hunt in quick succession during the last few hours before dark. The most promising ones are located near bedding thickets and have some sort of cover or landscape feature-a ditch, ravine, or hedgerow-that will allow you to reach them inconspicuously.

Start out by watching the best location closest to bedding cover, such as a small field tucked back near thick woods, where a buck might get up fairly early to feed. In moderate weather, bucks may start feeding as early as midafternoon. But if it's very cold out, you can expect them to eat earlier.

Monitor this first location until only an hour or two before dark (depending on how close your other fields are), then slip out quietly to check your next spots, which can be increasingly farther away from bedding cover and more open as the light fades and bucks get bolder. Just before dark, for example, you might be checking the edge of a large corn, rye, or soybean field. And you just might be staring at a huge buck feeding in the fading light.