If, by the late season, you still have a buck tag in your pocket, plans A, B, and C probably didn’t work. With hunting days dwindling, you need a new approach—and fast. The good news is that pinpointing a late-season buck hotspot is easy, according to David Schotte of Kansas’s Blue River Whitetails (blueriverwhitetails.com). Just locate the one place that’s guaranteed to draw deer during the bitter season: a standing cornfield.
Throughout farm country, it’s not uncommon to find at least parts of cornfields left unharvested through winter due to weather or other problems. “These fields sustain lots of deer damage, and farmers are usually open to letting you hunt, especially if you’re willing to take a doe or two before shooting your buck.”
The guide’s preferred tactic is to hide a ground blind among standing stalks on the field’s northern edge. Here’s how to put his season-saving plan into action.
1. Find your field.
Locating a field or even a patch of standing corn is simple during the late season: Just get in your car and drive. Look especially for bottomland cornfields with a timbered, south-facing ridge to the north. The sun-drenched slope provides a perfect bedding area now, and the topography gives shelter from the cold north wind, creating a comparatively warm, calm feeding spot on the field’s northern edge.
2. Pick your spot.
Once you get permission to hunt, look for tracks to reveal where deer are entering the north side of the field. “Snow makes it especially easy, but even without snow the deer runs will be obvious now,” Schotte says. “Bucks, does, and fawns are all feeding together now, and they’ll stomp big patches of corn flat. The key is to find signs of recent feeding.” Look for fresh tracks and kernels still on ears or spilled on the ground.
3. Hide your blind.
“It’s usually tough to put up a blind and expect to hunt the same week, because deer pick up on that kind of change really quickly,” Schotte says. “But if there’s one place where you can pull this off, it’s standing corn.” Wedge your blind in among the stalks (with the farmer’s permission, of course) downwind of trails and feeding areas; then use stalks already flattened by deer to completely camouflage your hideout.
4. Bide your time.
Bitter temperatures will get bucks up and feeding at any time, so be ready to sit all day. The advantage is that here you’re sitting in a cozy, brushed-in blind instead of a wind-whipped treestand on a bare-limbed oak tree. If you don’t score on the first sit, wait for full dark to exit to avoid detection so you can try again. If you do, grilled tenderloin will make a nice warm-up after a long day of cold corn.