John's Journal...


Click to enlargeSouthern Techniques

Editor’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 enlargeToxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak camouflage in West Point, Mississippi, employs midday methods to take trophy bucks at the end of the season. Haas hunts each day by considering the wind, the weather, the barometric pressure and what the deer have done in the past few weeks. He also divides the southern deer season into three basic hunting patterns. During the early season, he hunts around food, in the middle of the season, he hunts trails, and at the end of the season, he prefers to hunt bedding areas. "To bag a trophy buck, you must put together all parts of the trophy buck puzzle, regardless of the time of year," Haas says. "A deer must feed, drink, breed and bed down no matter when you hunt it. But when guns fire and hunters ramble through the woods, the way a deer approaches these activities must change if it wants to survive.

"Because I hunt deer all season, I'll know where those deer have Click to enlargebedded-down. At the end of the season, I'll begin to hunt closer to their bedding sites. But I don't move near their bedding areas without first planning ahead and observing where other hunters do and don't hunt. For example, I know of an 80-acre bedding area close to a soybean field that the deer feed on all season. However, the owner of the property doesn't allow anyone to hunt there. But I have permission to hunt that place for two or three days the last week of the season." When Haas hunts leases with high hunter pressure, he searches for productive bedding areas no one else hunts
like ...
* small patches of blackberry and honeysuckle immediately behind the clubhouse,
* thick cover directly by a gate on the road leading into the lease and
* a dense thicket in the middle of a cornfield everyone knows a hunter can't approach without a deer's seeing him.

"Click to enlargeOnce you learn where everyone else doesn't hunt, then you understand where the biggest buck on the property must live," Haas explains. Haas believes hunters have trained deer all season to know when the maximum hunter movement occurs from 30 minutes before daylight until 10:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. until dark. Haas uses a sleep-late tactic for his end-of-the-season hunting. "Although bucks avoid hunters, they won't bed down for 12 hours without feeding or breeding," Haas commented. "They must get up and move sometimes in the middle of the day in thick areas. I sleep in late during the last two weeks of deer season. When everyone else returns from their early-morning hunts, I go into the woods. Then as other hunters come back to the woods after lunch, I leave the woods. Using this philosophy, the bucks and I both have the least amount of hunting pressure."


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 3