Game Plan: Late-Season Still Hunt

A step-by-step recommendation for stalking your woods on the last days of the year

Field & Stream Online Editors

Start out in the morning, paralleling feeding areas. Deer often leave food sources early this time of year, so be in place at sunup.

Work inside the timber along fields, or through creekbottoms and around clear-cuts. When you have scouted well, you'll know where deer want to go next.

Work your way to bedding areas, like thick patches of cover, or remote ridgetops.

Check bed sites close to the food first, since deer are reluctant to move far now.

To get there, you want to cut through the corridors that the deer use to travel.

If you find a trail, walk it. Remember, deer like to take the shortest, easiest route, just like you do, so try the most logical paths.

Once you reach the bedding areas, your job gets more difficult.

Use your binoculars a lot; you're going to need all the help you can get to spot deer before they spot you.

Take your time, and try to get above the bedding areas. This makes spying deer easier.

Walk just below ridgetops, taking care not to skylight yourself. If you come to a saddle, peek over the ridge to check the other side.

Don't rush. If you can hunt only one or two bedding areas before it's time to head back to the travel corridors, fine. It's more important to hunt right than to cover every possibility. But move quickly through open woods barren of sign.

In the afternoon, head back to travel corridors and feeding areas. An oak stand with acorns still on the ground is a great spot.

Pay special attention to staging zones, the places in the timber where deer mill around before heading into an exposed food source.