I’m hearing one word above all others from the deer woods right now: Slow. My brother Matt was in over the long Thanksgiving break, and he spent most of his time in a deer stand. Three near daylight-to-dark sits yielded exactly one doe sighting. Matt dropped that deer in its tracks.
Depressing as it may seem, that’s common this time of year. Two big factors come into play. The rut is winding down fast. Some breeding is still taking place, but for the most part, deer are worn down and resting.
The bigger factor is hunter pressure. Gun seasons have been open for weeks across the Mid-South. Many of those bucks that were up and cruising fields in broad daylight a few weeks ago are dead. Those that survived have figured the game out.
Yesterday, I did a trail-camera check over a corn feeder on a white oak ridge that’s been left alone all season. Hunting pressure has been heavy on surrounding farms, but not here. Two weeks ago, there were as many daylight photos as after-dark photos. But not one deer has come through in the daylight within the past week. Plenty are hitting the bait after dark. That says a lot.
The activity should pick up. Gun seasons are ending, and hunter pressure will subside. Cold weather, if we get it, will put deer on their feet to feed in the daylight once winter sets in. But expect that “hangover” from the peak rut and gun season to keep things slow for a while longer.