I killed this 7 pointer with an 18 inch inside spread the very last minute of shooting light on the last day of deer season. He came out to a potato pile with several other bucks right at dark.
This deer season has been full of ups and downs for me. I ended up killing this 7 point, an 8 point, and 2 does. The crazy part is I didn't kill any of the bucks until after Christmas! This is very unusual for me as I typically kill my bucks during the rut like everyone else. This year however I was unable to hunt my most productive hunting property for nearly a month due to the death of a family member and a very busy class schedule at NC State. Once I finished my exams around Dec. 15 I knew I had a little more than 2 weeks to score or I may have ended 2008 without a buck. This being said, I would like to offer some insight into what worked for me this December in the deer woods.
-Find the food or provide the food. Corn, potatoes, an un-picked soybean field, be there in the evenings. The bucks are hungry and tired after months of chasing does. They need calories now. Stay in the stand after shooting light and see if you can't see deer coming out late. If so, be prepared to move a climber or lock-on right inside the woods where the deer are entering and hope you can catch them during shooting light the next evening.
-Hunt the most un-pressured property you have. I was lucky enough to have access to one property that was not hunted often and I saw several deer there during December when nobody else was seeing deer.
-Hunt that little head of woods you know nobody has even bothered to try. You may be surprised what you see.
-Try a deer drive, get a buddy or two and find a small woodlot that you think may hold some deer. Safety first. Even if you don't get a deer out of it you may discover a bedding area, rubs, scrapes, etc.
-In the mornings especially avoid hunting open fields. Try shooting lanes or old logging roads instead. Deer will feel much more comfortable crossing a lane rather than a field. Contrary to what it seems, deer still move in December, it's just that they don't move as much in the open.
-Pay attention to the weather and hunt the coldest days. Hunt hard right after a front moves through especially if there was heavy rains or high winds. The deer normally will be moving. If you are driving around on a cold December day and see deer feeding or crossing woodlots go get in the stand, the deer are moving! I know this sounds obvious but sometimes the deer will tell us when to hunt.
-Take a break or you will drive yourself crazy! Deer hunting everyday when you're not seeing anything is tough on the mind. Go duck hunting one morning, enjoy an afternoon dove shoot with some buddies, whatever it takes.
-Put in the time and effort. This is not the rut and it's not going to be easy. Just like everything else you get out what you put in.
I've seen plenty of does and small bucks so far but haven't run across a big one yet. I know they're out there because I let a bunch of small bucks walk last year. The rut is coming so good luck to all.