John's Journal...


Middle State Strategies

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: They've been chased, shot at, cussed at, spooked and aggravated all season long. But the biggest, the oldest and the smartest bucks on any property you hunt have managed to survive until the end of the season. These large, older bucks write the textbooks young bucks study to survive. Some of the nation's best hunters employ strategies that will take these end-of-the-season bucks each year. These masters of the hunt tell us their tactics for bagging late-season bucks.

Click to enlargeJim Crumley, the creator of Trebark camouflage from Roanoke, Virginia, hunts deer with his bow until the last Saturday in January. Depending on when the rut starts in each state, hunters in the middle states may hunt either during or after the rut in January. "At the end of the season, you may sit over what looks like an active scrape all day for several days and never see a buck," Crumley says. "I hunt at the end of the season by not concentrating on finding a trophy buck but instead searching for areas where does travel. When the rut nears its end, bucks will look for the last estrous doe. But the does will search for food. Once I find food that attracts the most does, I set up a stand near the trail the does use to go to the food."

Crumley finds success in the late season by hunting abandoned fields -Click to enlarge- alfalfa fields or other crops that haven't deteriorated completely. "By fertilizing Japanese honeysuckle, blackberry bushes and broad-leafed forbs in abandoned fields in the spring, these plants will bring forth more nutritious leaves than any other plants in an area during the winter," Crumley reports. "In the late season, the does will move into these fields and feed. Once I learn on which trails does enter and exit the fields during the last week of the season, I'll put up my tree stands near those trails. I'm confident a buck will appear there." Even when the leaves on the Click to enlargeblackberries and the honeysuckle look so brown they seem ready to fall off the plants, Crumley has discovered the deer still feed on them. While others in the nation hunt thick-cover spots hoping to find bucks in the late season, Crumley uses the opposite tactic and hunts the wide-open spaces of abandoned fields and pastures where he assumes the does will show up followed by large bucks.


Check back each day this week for more about WHERE THE PROS HUNT AT THE BITTER END...

Day 1 - Northern Tactics
Day 2 - Middle State Strategies
Day 3 - Southern Techniques
Day 4 - Midwestern Bucks
Day 5 - Midwestern Bad-Weather Bucks


Entry 279, Day 2