The Last Hurrah, the Final Countdown, the Fourth Quarter. Call it what you want; the late deer season is here. It’s a time when, statistically speaking, more than half the people who hold big-game hunting licenses have decided that doing something else, anything else, is better than sitting in a deer stand.
Late-season deer hunting is a lot like post-spawn bass fishing. The big event is over. The hunting grounds and water have been beaten to death, and the quarry has taken off for seemingly parts unknown.
According to Mike Johnson, general manager of the Clinton House Plantation in Clinton, S.C., deer have narrowed their interests into basic survival needs to get ready for the winter.
“Late in the season, deer are only gonna focus on about three things: bedding, water and food. Those three things are going to be high on their list.”
If you planted food plots during the summer or early fall, Johnson said you already know what’s in there. Hopefully, you planted a variety of greenery that will ripen and be attractive to deer late in the season.
“By December, peas are gone, clover is gone; that’s why you want to make sure you plant your grains like wheat, oats and rye grass,” said Johnson. “Other than food plots, there are also a couple of options, both natural and man-made, that can help you find deer.”
For public-land hunters who may not have the luxury of food plots, certain species of natural browse will ripen late in the fall, and though harder to identify than a planted food plot, they will also attract deer.
This broad category of late-season browse includes things like poplar buds, hemlock branches, multi-floral rose and maple saplings. In areas with limited farming