Haven’t tagged out? There’s still time if you embrace the cold and follow these expert pointers for hunting post-rut bucks
#1 FIND THEIR FOOD
As snow accumulates and temperatures plummet, calories quickly become the priority for whitetails. For hunters, that means it’s time to focus on whatever preferred food sources are still accessible. Fields of turnip, brassica or corn, stands of white cedar and hemlock, acorns and unharvested alfalfa can all be great late-season draws. Which food source the deer opt for, however, depends on the snow depth and the proximity to their bedding area. For trophy bucks, the best bet is whatever natural food source is closest to where they bed down.
In the morning, avoid hunting around exposed food sources, because any deer that browse there under the security of darkness will likely still be in the vicinity. Instead, target food sources back in the timber from morning through to midday, then focus on more open browse in the evening, if at all. Whitetails dramatically reduce their daily movements as winter takes hold, feeding more in sheltered areas during the warmer middle part of the day than at any other time of the hunting season.
In areas where it’s permitted, should you put out bait for big bucks? The quick answer is no. Mature bucks are too wary to be lured to a pile of apples, carrots or a mixture of corn and oats. There’s simply too much human odour associated with bait to fool a wall-hanger—especially during daylight.