By Mark Kenyon
It wasn’t long ago that I would hunt every single chance I could get. October, November, December. Morning, afternoon, evening. Warm weather or cold. I was out there. This seemed to be the right thing to do, as I believed that if I hunted hard and got out there as much as possible, I would eventually get a shot. I’ve learned though, that sometimes less is more.
In an article I wrote earlier this year titled “Reducing Pressure On Whitetails By Giving Up October Mornings“, I discussed the idea of not hunting mornings in October, and today I’d like to propose the same recommendation for December.
In both early October and December, most deer are on a bed to feed pattern. Their lives revolve around food and then returning to the safety of their bedding cover. During both of these time frames, mature bucks are usually returning to their beds quite early in the morning, most often this happens before daylight. Unlike late October and November, when you can catch deer returning to their beds late, most bucks (at least mature bucks) will be bedded before you ever get to your tree stand.
With that said, if you hunt mornings in December, there’s a high likelihood that bucks will be back in the timber/bedding cover before you, and when you head into your morning stand there is a high chance of bumping that buck. In fact there is such a good chance of bumping those “early to bed bucks” in December, that I believe you end up doing more harm by hunting mornings in December than good.
For this reason, these morning hunts are high risk and low reward. On the other hand, evenings typically result in the most daylight activity from mature bucks, and you can much more easily access your hunting locations without alarming bucks at this time. This makes evening hunts much lower risk and higher reward. Of course you have to also have a good exit strategy in the evening, but assuming you have this, you’re in good shape.
So, in my opinion, if you want to improve your chances of tagging that elusive late season buck, hunt less this winter.
I’ve come to find that a few high percentage hunts are worth much more than many, high risk, low percentage sits. So axe those morning hunts, and instead focus on high percentage evening sits that are less likely to result in bumped bucks and more likely to result in venison in the freezer.