NCW Deer Report #11 12-11-12
We have always maintained that the end of the season and its accompanying cold and foul weather offers some of the best mature buck hunting of the season. Many of our best bucks have been taken under winter conditions. Trouble is, somebody canceled winter conditions. For the last two weeks it has been almost summer here in the Northeast.
With the “biological rut” all but wrapped up our buck sightings on “Kindred Spirits” have dwindled dramatically. No, they aren’t all dead but they have all found safe hiding and even with declining hunting pressure are still very much on the defense. They are lying up during the day and have no reason to move very far. Natural vegetation food sources are everywhere and while not the best groceries in the neighborhood they beat getting shot at.
Our doe/fawn sightings are holding up well on evening green plots but these deer are bedding within 100 yards of the plots and moving very little from food to bed. The bucks are hanging back altogether in areas where they have been pressured.
Neil’s farm has seen very little pressure and he is seeing plenty of bucks which are reconstituting their bachelor bands and hitting his most secure food sources. He watches them and doe groups most days from his office window and it’s as if they know they are in a safety zone a few hundred yards from his backyard. He has the best food and cover in the neighborhood and with very little hunting pressure, is seeing plenty of action (through his office window). Were he to go out back and shoot a few it would all change overnight.
With the near summer weather, Neil’s farm deer are preferring his nice green clover fields to standing corn. Normally deer will eat frozen greens but given a late season choice between frozen greens and corn, corn will win hands down. But this year is not normal and as long as it stays mild and the greens stay soft and tasty they will stay on it. Throw the weather switch for a week and they will be all over the high carb corn and bean pods.
Our cameras are down to record low photos. Where we would once have hundreds if not thousands of pics each week from each of a dozen cameras we are now down to a few dozen. Where we would once sit in a late season shooting house and watch dozens of deer stream into a field we are now seeing ten or twelve.
With a week left in the NY season and no severe weather in the forecast we are now resigned to finishing out our doe harvest. We lack a few and hope to hit our goal by season’s end. Looking back the rut was spectacular but late season hunt has been a “mild weather bust”. We’ll hunt green plots the last hr. of the evening and try to “drop em” where they stand.
Lots of drive hunting going on all last week. Always a late season favorite, it really takes its toll on the deer. Being serious deer managers we hate it as it tends to make target ID questionable. Lots of button bucks wind up dying and those racks always shrink once they contact the ground. Lots of guys like to drive hunt as it is as much playing army and a social tradition but not for the serious deer manager.
Still hunting is a pretty good tactic if you know how to pull off a still hunt without running deer off your property. Wet leaves are a must and windy stormy days are generally the best days to sneak a deer. Bottom line, real tough to sneak a mature buck that has been hunted 4 or 5 seasons unless you know where he beds.
Two man pushes can get deer on their feet and put some targets in front of you but they too come with the risk of pushing deer all over the neighborhood.
You guys out there in the Midwest who are getting “snowed on and blowed on” need to take advantage of the foul weather and a deer’s need to feed and stake out your food sources. If it’s high carb stuff like corn or beans you are in business. If you have only green plots they will dig down to about 6-8 inches but more than that and they tend to work standing native vegetation. Good hunting ahead if you are still open.
We’ll be sticking to watching food sources. Passing up button bucks and young antlered bucks in favor of keeping our numbers in check and filling our freezers with tasty doe venison. This is the time of year when a well managed property is worth its weight in gold.