It’s the post-rut, and if you’ve logged enough stand time over the years, you know that cold weather means hot whitetail action at prime food sources. I love getting out during any phase of the season, but when it comes to hunting feeding patterns, nothing beats a frigid, snow-filled December in the upper Midwest.
But there’s a problem. Though it’s not quite mid-month yet if the long-range forecast is even close to correct we are not going to have a cold, snowy December. In fact, as I write this, my outside thermometer reads 52 degrees, which is warmer than a lot of days we had in October.
Still, I’m fired up for the last weeks of archery season. I think it’s going to be a great time to think outside the late-season box and try some tactics I don’t normally use this time of year. Here are a few of my ideas:
 Beat them to bed. I’ve got some great bedding-area setups that I normally reserve for the rut. With the lack of crunchy snow that would announce my entry to these stands, I’m going to push the envelope and try some morning sits. Cold-weather bucks usually bed early to conserve energy, but maybe when they’re less stressed, those same bucks will lollygag a bit before laying up for the day?
 Raise a ruckus. While I carry rattling antlers on virtually every hunt, I don’t use them much in the late season unless I spot a buck going away that I have no hope of killing without some calling. This year, especially with the secondary rut approaching, I’m going to try some blind rattling and calling in hopes of teasing in a bruiser. With the normal bed-to-feed patterns of late season tossed out the window, I’m going to play the secondary rut like it’s the real deal.
 Grind it out. I’ve only pulled off three all-day sits this year, and I know I’ve got the endurance for a couple more. While I might change stands at midday, I’m going to plant my butt in the woods from dawn until dusk a couple times. I’ve never done this in December before, and I’m excited to try it. I know whitetails feed and move at midday throughout the year, but in a normal December I’m rarely out there to see it from a stand. This time I will be.
Naturally, I’ll be paying close attention to the weather forecast as the month progresses. It’s not unusual for an unexpected snowstorm or cold front to visit us this month, and you can bet I’ll be in a food-source stand if we get some “normal” weather in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, it’s going to be fun switching things up.