When The Season Ends, It’s Bed Time

In my Christmas post, I forgot to mention something else I got for the holiday (a little belatedly): 6 inches of fresh snow. Besides the Hunter Dan Hanson Buck, it was just the thing I wanted--because when the last deer season ends (which ours did about 10 days ago), there's nothing like a new blanket of snow to jumpstart your scouting for next fall.

Admit it. Much of the time, we are only guessing about where deer bed. When we say, "I hung a stand a couple hundred yards off the bedding area," what we are often really saying is "I hung a stand a couple hundred yards of a brushy point (or some such) where I think a deer should bed…maybe…sometimes…." With a fresh snowfall, you can pinpoint exactly where deer bed. Fresh tracks and trails also tell you precisely how deer are moving through your hunting ground. And all the while you can stomp around with impunity because the deer have months and months to forget your intrusion.

There is no better preparation for next year's late-season hunting. In my experience, the patterns you find now will hold largely (or at least partly) true just prior to season's end next year. Moreover, while some bedding areas and trails are seasonal, some are not. Some are highly favored spots and routes that deer use much or all of the year--perennial hotspots that you need to know about. Now is the time to take an inventory of them.

Wait for a couple of days after the snowfall so deer have time to move around. Then head out with your GPS to mark your findings to transfer onto a map later. Yesterday in about an hour and a half, I found over a dozen beds and several good trail I did not previously know about--all of which will help me enormously next fall. (Sorry for the poor-quality photo; all I had was my cell-phone camera. But you get the idea.)