In this series, whitetail experts Craig and Neil Dougherty of North Country Whitetails  will share journal entries from their lives as 365 day a year whitetail hunters and managers. There isn’t a day that goes by that the Doughertys aren’t living and breathing whitetails, and this series will follow their observations from the field, their successes in the woods, a few off topic interludes, and everything in between. A true deer hunting diary. Enjoy! – MK

By Craig Dougherty

Spent some time in the woods last weekend and things had changed. The deer had been busy all fall feeding and breeding and then feeding again, but last weekend they were busy hunkering down. In spite of a couple of acres of standing corn and some pretty good green plots, the deer were “unbusy” staying warm and conserving energy.

There were plenty of tracks all right, but they came in a straight line and they left the same way; straight to the food then back to bed. No meandering, no evidence of two hour feeding binges, no chasing or fighting, or social interaction; just getting some food in their bellies and heading back to bed.

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North slopes and exposed areas were trackless. Deer activity was confined to sheltered areas out of the way of energy zapping winter winds. The spruce thickets were loaded with fresh beds so were the south facing slopes. Its energy conservation time— move only when necessary, and don’t burn more than you take in.

It happens every year this way. You feel it as much as you see it. Something about winter closing in makes survivors of us all. This year it’s a little earlier than usual but it’s here nonetheless. There will be brief respites and hopefully a thaw or two, but from here on in, we’ll be rooting for them (and us) to make it through; and somehow, we always do.   

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