All posts by Randy Hynes

Christ follower, husband, father and founder of 365 Whitetail. Randy is the former Online Editorial Director for Petersen's Bowhunting, Petersen's Hunting, North American Whitetailand Bowhunter Magazine. His passions include fly fishing, photography and exploring wild places.
Drakes Adventures Kids Books Series

Drake’s Adventures: 2015 ATA Best Of Show

Drake’s Adventures deserves some kind of recognition from the Archery Trade Association for possessing the most forethought and presenting the most innovative product at the 2015 ATA show.
While most manufacturers at the 2015 ATA Show developed and displayed products focused around the existing hunter—Drake’s Adventures set out to recruit ‘new’ hunters.
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It’s no secret that hunter recruitment is serious issue, especially among youth. Video games, shopping malls and electronic devices lure more young people than hunting ever will. Research has shown for some time that in spite of the growth in bowhunting, archery and outdoor recreation, we are not retaining as many hunters as we are losing. This issue cannot be ignored.
To tackle the hunter recruitment issue, Keith Beam, former owner of Double Bull Blinds, has come up with a brilliant way to create interest in the outdoors when kids are still young. Beam recognizes if we wait until they’re in their teens, it may be too late.
Drakes Adventures Kids Hunting
At the 2015 ATA Show, Beam launched what he is calling Drake’s Adventures. Joined by outstanding artist Steve Karras, this two-man team is filling a giant void in the outdoor industry. Beam and Karras have partnered in order to create a series of kids books, which are sure to impact hundreds if not thousands of future hunters.
Drake’s Adventures will be a series of easy reading and interactive books depicting what the child can, and hopefully will, experience during a hunting or fishing trip.
The first book in the Drake’s Adventures series is entitled Spring Thunder. This well illustrated volume allows the reader to join the lead character, whose name is Drake, on his very first turkey hunt—but that’s not all.
All through Drake’s hunt the reader can experience the real sounds of a turkey hunting adventure. From an owl hoot, box call, friction call, purr, gobble, etc., at the press of a button the story comes to life. (Play video below for a demonstration.)

The book has been professionally designed and crafted so as to make parents happy—it even includes a headphone jack to keep sanity intact. If the child is too young to read, the book also offers read along narration.
Beam and Karras said we can expect the Drake’s Adventures series to take us on a whitetail hunt, a fishing trip, an elk hunt and we’ll even enjoy some waterfowl hunting.
Drakes Adventures Kids Books
As a father who has attempted to raise three little hunters, I find Drake’s Adventures a must have for any parent who is serious about passing on an appreciation for the outdoors. Educating and creating interest in our children will be the only way we can ever hope to preserve our hunting heritage.
For more information on Drake’s Adventures visit Be sure to like their Facebook page and even if you don’t have kids, buy one or more of Drake’s Adventures for someone who does. When it comes to our hunting heritage, what we do today is sure to impact our tomorrow.
Drakes Adventures For Kids

havalon knives 2015 ata show

2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 3

Day three of the 2015 ATA Show was our favorite day of all. Not necessarily because of the products we saw, but due to the fact we were able to spend a considerable amount of time sharing experiences and telling tales with fellow die-hard bowhunters.
Bowhunters are a unique breed and for the most part they’re a band of brothers. A deep understanding of what unites us is what made spending time at the 2015 ATA Show so rewarding.
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On day three of the 2015 ATA Show I was joined by two of my sons. Although I had several meetings to attend before the end of the day, my boys enjoyed a day filled with making new friends and talking to outdoor personalities such as Fred Eichler, one of their favorite bowhunters.
As we made our way through the booths we hadn’t had time to visit previously, we continued to find great products. We located the first of many at the Havalon Knives booth.
A few years ago we started using Havalon Knives and haven’t looked back. These small but exceptionally sharp knives have field dressed, caped and quartered numerous deer. And while a traditional mindset still prevails among hunters, which requires packing a bulky 6-inch blade when hunting, this notion couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Havalon Knives showcased their expanded line of razor sharp hunting knives at the 2015 ATA Show, including the new Piranta Stag. The Piranta Stag offers a good looking and durable Zytel handle, which has been uniquely contoured for a more solid grip.
havalon piranta 2015 ata show
Also highlighted at the show was the all-new Havalon (still in development but will possibly be named, the Hydra) two-blade knife. By featuring both a 2 ¾” Piranta blade and a 5” Baracuta blade this knife design offers the best of both worlds.
havalon hydra 2015 ata show
An additional feature of the Hydra is its ability to convert to a saw. Simply replace the Baracuta blade with the new Baracuta Bone Saw blade and you have everything needed to property take care of any size game.
havalon hydra saw ata show 2015
Although I’ve found the Piranta series ample for whitetail, a longer blade would be nice when trimming game meat. While still in its prototype phase, the Hydra if so named, will provide a compact all-in-one knife for any type of hunting.
havalon hydra knife ata show
Anyone who’s visited this site for any amount of time knows I like organization—especially when in a treestand. And few companies are as ingenious at developing treestand accessories as Hawk Hunting.
At the 2014 ATA Show Hawk Hunting launched its brand along with a variety of treestands and treestand accessories. Now for 2015 Hawk Hunting is promoting even more unique treestand accessories, which are sure to create interest among avid treestand hunters.
One of our favorite Hawk products featured at the 2015 ATA Show was the Tactical Trio Hybrid Tree Hook. This innovative hook provides a ‘swing arm’ design allowing for full right to left adjustability. The Trio Hybrid Tree Hook is also constructed of solid metal and is overmolded with a SilentGrip finish.
Hawk Hybrid Tree Hook ata 2015
Another item we saw at the Hawk Hunting booth was the new Rock Solid Tree Arm. This all-new, all-steel bow arm extends to 24” and is as it has been named—rock solid. The Rock Solid Tree Arm also features three accessory hooks for additional organization and allows quick accessibility of bowhunting gear.
Hawk Rock Soild Tree Arm 2015 ATA SHow
hawk rock soild 2015 ata show
Last but not least was the Hawk Speed Retract Hoist Reel. Incorporating 30’ of anti-tangle line, a gear system providing 5X faster rewind and Hawks easy twist GearTie attachments, the Speed Retract Hoist Reel is just one more treestand accessory that is sure to keep both your pack and hunt organized.
Hawk hoist reel 2015 ata show
While having lunch with an acquaintance who writes for, he mentioned a unique product located at the Black Widow Lures booth. It sounded like something I had to see, so I decided to make it a priority and check it out.
black widow deer lures ata show 2015
While I’ve heard of these polymer beads (water beads) being used for various applications, I’d never thought of using them for hunting—how ingenious. (The 2015 ATA Show was definitely a place where I shook my head and asked, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’)
By soaking what Black Widow Deer Lures is calling ‘Scrape Beads’ in deer urine, these super absorbent beads retain and release odor as needed. Made from a polyacrylamide which can adsorb up to several times their weight, the Scrape Beads can be placed into a scrape in order to distribute scent for a considerable amount of time. This product is also in the development phase and Black Widow Lures informed us they were very surprised at the amount of interest in this product. It remains to be seen just how this product will be developed and the myriad of uses it will provide.
black widow scrape beads 2015 ata show
While in no way did we expect to cover all the products featured at the 2015 ATA Show, these updates contain a handful items we believe will provide benefit to any bowhunter. Stay tuned as we finish up with our favorite item from the 2015 ATA Show. Read 2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 1 and 2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 2 here.

2105 ata trade show update

2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 2

Day two of the 2015 ATA Trade Show began by shaking off a heavy dose of weariness. After a host of meetings and a late night made 4am seem to arrive way too early. After a few cups of strong coffee we headed to the Indianapolis Convention Center for another day at the 2015 ATA Show.
After attending the Target the Heart Prayer Breakfast we made our way over to Elite Archery so we could shoot a product video with the one and only Darrin Christenberry. When we arrived, the Elite Archery booth was filled with curious buyers wanting to know more about these ‘shootable’ bows that are quickly growing in popularity.
Elite Archery’s shooting station was also filled with those wanting to experience the ‘shootability’ of the 2015 lineup. It was here we found our good friend Mark Huelsing of Sole Adventure, and as one would expect, he was doing a stellar job at pointing out the unique features of each individual bow.
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After a necessary detour, my son Austin just had to see Cameron Hanes, we continued our search for interesting and ‘out-of-the-box’ products featured at the 2015 ATA Trade Show.
One of our first stops was to see our friends at Dead Down Wind. As usual, an impressive array of new products lined the shelves. After getting a first hand look at their all-new UV Guard and how well it performed, I saw something even more impressive. (I was impressed because it puts money back into the bowhunter’s pocket.)
uv guard 2015 ata show
For 2015 Dead Down Wind is offering a $5.00 mail in rebate with each bottle of Evolve 3D+ scent elimination spray. It’s their way of saying thank you to those who have continued to support them over the last ten years. What an ingenious way to retain loyal customers.
dead down wind 2015 ata show
Day two of the 2015 ATA Show also found us checking out what new products Wicked Tree Gear had brought to the show. We weren’t disappointed.
For 2015 Wicked Tree Gear is offering an Ultra Light version of their pole saw. The Ultra Light Pole Saw offers a removable head which doubles as a hand saw. Available in both a 10-foot and 14-foot version, the 10-foot version will retail for $99.99 and the 14-foot for $149.99.
wicked ultra light pole saw 2015 ata show
Wicked Tree Gear also showcased an all-new attachment for their original pole saw that will be a great addition for any serious bowhunter—its called the Wicked Utility Hook. The Wicked Utility Hook attaches securely to their Wicked Stick or Wicked Tough pole saws and is the perfect attachment when needing to push or pull a small tree when hinge cutting. Leave it to Wicked, they sure know how to climb above the competition. (Pun intended!)
wicked utility hook 2015 ata show
With a penchant for displaying antlers I wanted to stop by and see what new items Skull Hooker had brought to the 2015 ATA Show. Offering a unique way to display both skull plates and European mounts, Skull Hooker continues to offer innovative products year after year.
For 2015 Skull Hooker has released their Pedestal Mount. The Pedestal Mount allows a trophy to be displayed on a tabletop or desktop in classy fashion. Available in brown or graphite black finishes the Skull Hooker Pedestal mount is a great addition to any man cave or trophy room.
skull hooker 2015 ata show
Once in a while you see a company that breaks the mold. And while I don’t use Slick Trick broadheads they do have a reputation for quality. Furthermore, today’s broadhead companies could learn a lot from their packaging. For 2015 Slick Trick is offering a Pro Pack, which includes 10 ferrules and 12 blades. How ingenious. It’s about time someone realized there’s no law that says broadheads have to be sold in packs of three.
slick tricks 2015 ata show
In the world of bowhunting bigger is often better. So to make sure your vacuum sealer won’t overheat when processing game, Weston Products has released the all-new Pro 1100 Vacuum Sealer. The Pro 1100 Vacuum Sealer is fan cooled, offers a fully adjustable sealing timer and even offers a manual mode that allows you to control vacuum pressure when sealing soft foods such as fish. The Weston Pro 1100 can seal bags up to 11-inches wide and comes in stainless steel for easy cleaning. This is a must have for anyone who’s in the market for a quality vacuum sealer.
weston vaccum sealer
The 2015 ATA Trade Show was filled with dozens of conversations centered around family, business and bowhunting. And while it was easy to spend a considerable amount of time getting caught up with friends we hadn’t seen since last year, we did manage to see more cool products on day three. Stay tuned for more updates and a summary of what we felt were our favorite products at the 2015 ATA Show. Read ATA Trade Show Update – Day 1 and ATA Trade Show Update – Day 3 here.

Badlands Silent Series

2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 1

The 2015 ATA Trade Show commenced with excited archery enthusiasts waiting to gain entrance to a world of innovative and recently developed products.
Beyond the entrance of the Indianapolis Convention Center was a variety of booths containing archery equipment, bowhunting accessories and just about anything relating to archery.
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Day one of the 2015 ATA Trade Show was spent perusing booth after booth in search of unique products we believed would benefit the bowhunter. Here are a few of our favorites.

Badlands Silent Series Packs

For 2015 Badlands offers the bowhunter a new line of ultra quiet hunting packs. Not only does the Silent Series provide a much quieter outer shell, but to insure these packs are the epitome of quiet, Badlands has used magnets and proprietary fasteners in place of buckles and zippers. The Silent Series packs are sure to be a favorite among hunters who understand the advantage of owning gear that’s just as stealthy as the game they pursue.

Lone Wolf Stick Quiver

For the bowhunter who packs in his climbing sticks and treestand, Lone Wolf now offers a unique solution to quietly transport those climbing sticks. By simply ‘snapping’ the sticks into their designated ‘holders,’ the hunter is guaranteed a quiet entry and exit to and from his or her stand site. Designed for both durability and ease of use the new stick quiver is sure to be a favorite at the 2015 ATA Trade Show.
2015 ATA Show

First Lite Sanctuary Pant

The First Like Sanctuary Pant provides the last piece to a long overdue system for bowhunters who desire a warm and quiet pant when hunting late season. The Sanctuary Pant is offered in a bib design with heavy duty suspenders, full length zippered legs, articulated knees and the quality First Lite is known for—what more could you ask for in clothing? (More on these pants later.)
First Lite Sanctuary Pant

Hunter Safety System Crow’s Foot

They say reinventing the wheel is impossible, but it would seem Hunter Safety System has been successful. Unlike traditional gear hooks, the all-new Crow’s Foot by HSS offers a three-in-one solution for organizing gear while in a treestand.
Not only does the Crow’s Foot fold into a small and lightweight package, but an additional feature of the Crows Foot is its recessed auger tip, meaning the screw-in point folds back into the Crow’s Foot leaving no sharp or exposed points to tear your pack or hunting gear.
2015 ATA Show Review
We’re excited for day two of the 2015 ATA Trade Show, for it is sure to introduce us to more innovative products. Stay tune for more updates and feel free to follow us on Twitter for additional show coverage. Read 2015 ATA Trade Show Update – Day 2 here.

Dont Be Mr Noisy

Don’t Be Mr. Noisy

The wind was perfect, the barometer was rising and the anticipation of seeing a mature whitetail was at an all-time high. I had saved this particular stand for late season and knowing it hadn’t been hunted in over a month left me feeling positive.
To the east was cut corn, to the west an acorn flat and my stand was placed over a well-used staging area directly in between the two prime food sources.
Walking in that evening I noticed a multitude of tracks along with several piles of fresh droppings. It was obvious these late season deer were feeding in a small patch of cut corn located at the very back of the farm.
It seemed everything was in our favor, or so we assumed.
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‘Swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh,’ what was that noise? To the south a deer bounded across the corn, through a deep ravine and into the thick oaks. Was this the sound of deer running in the corn stubble? Was this commotion more secondary rut activity as we had seen the night before?
Lifting my binoculars in an attempt to locate a source of the racket, I froze in disbelief. Through the thicket at the far end of the field I could see a fluorescent orange hat. And it was moving in my direction.
‘Swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh, thud, whap, swisssssssssh,‘ this source of racket, now getting closer to my treestand, was a fellow hunter. He too had figured out where these late season whitetail were feeding.
‘Swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh, swisssssssssh,’ was the sound of the hunter’s ground blind dragging through the brush.
‘Thud, thump, whap, whap, whap, whap!’ Mr. Noisy was providing me with play-by-play sounds of him dropping, unpacking and unfolding each side of his extremely stealthy (not so much) ground blind.
‘ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztttt,’ there’s one zipper. Wait for it… ‘ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzt,’ there was zipper number two. ‘Thud, thump,’ and the sound of Mr. Noisy getting settled into his ground blind echoed across the field.
‘ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztttt,’ there’s one zipper. Wait for it… ‘ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzt!’ Ah, Mr. Noisy was now snuggled securely into his blind. And I was getting ready to pay him a visit. This so-called hunter had not only trespassed onto private property, but had set up less than one hundred yards from my treestand.
As I snuck down the edge of the cornfield, I wondered what on earth this hunter was thinking? Maybe he was unaware that whitetail have ears—two of them. And not only can whitetail hear, but they can pinpoint the location of a sound from a considerable distance.
“Doesn’t this guy know you can’t be careless in this kind of weather?” There was no wind, the air was heavy and the slightest sound could be heard for hundreds of yards. Undoubtedly, Mr. Noisy had already spooked all the deer in that area.
‘ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztttt,’ there’s one zipper. Wait for it… ‘ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzt,’ Mr. Noisy was now on his way to meet me. Attempting to salvage any remaining possibility of seeing a deer that evening, I asked in a whisper, “Do you have permission to hunt here?” The answer came much like his grand entrance—in an above normal voice that was sure to send every whitetail scurrying into the next county.
“Yes,” he said loudly, “we lease the adjoining property and we have permission to shoot in this field.” His answer was either a loud lie or yet another display of blatant ignorance.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get ahold of the property owner, so I tried to sneak back to my stand. All the while listening to Mr. Noisy loudly talk on his cell phone concerning his presumed rights to hunt property he had not leased.
Once in my stand I tried to digest the reality of a hunter with a muzzleloader was now set up to shoot in my general direction, had trespassed onto private property and made more noise than a herd of elephants in the process. “Stay positive, stay positive, stay positive,” I repeatedly told myself. Maybe this night would end much better than how it started?
So I hoped.
As legal shooting light faded, it suddenly occurred to me. I bet Mr. Noisy will leave exactly the way he came. And I guarantee he will wait until the deer are almost to the field, then he’ll fire up his ground blind band.
Sure enough!
Just as several deer were approaching the staging area I heard the foreboding sound, ‘ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztttt,’ there’s one zipper. Wait for it… ‘ZZZZZzzzzzzzt.’ ‘Whap, whap, whap, whap.’ ‘Swissssshh, Swisssshh, Swissssh, thud, whap, swisssssssshh.’ I shook my head in disbelief.
And combined with Mr. Noisy’s nerve-racking orchestra was the sound of several deer running as fast as they could.
Thanks, Mr. Noisy.
No matter who we meet, we can learn something about hunting. And there’s a lot to be learned from Mr. Noisy.

youth bow hunting

Dad, I Feel So Unworthy

Six bucks and three does surrounded his treestand. With his Indiana buck tag already filled, he picked out the largest doe, settled his sight pin, and sent a razor sharp broadhead where it needed to go—just behind the front shoulder.
The doe would make his third bow kill for the season and our family couldn’t be happier. It’s evident he’s becoming a proficient hunter, and as a dad, I feel a sense of fulfillment in knowing this young man is embracing traditions others have shunned.
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While a trio of perfect shot placement is impressive, I’m more inspired by my son’s attitude. (I suppose some will say I’m biased and you’re probably right—so be it.)

I’ve tried to teach my kids to view hunting as a privilege. It’s not to be treated as a video game or a Hollywood production. As hunters we respect life and at the same time understand all life is sustained by death. Hunting is taking the life of an animal.

In a world full of make believe, the realities of life and death are not always easy to pass on to your kids. So when my boy knelt beside the doe and said, “Dad, I feel so unworthy,” it had meaning.
Yes, he was excited to have made a clean kill. But there was also a side of him that realized this is not a game. Hunting is an honor granted to us by our Creator. Therefore a healthy dose of respect is also part of the experience we call hunting.
To some it’s just five words out of the mouth of a teenager, but “Dad, I feel so unworthy,” meant as much to me as another bow kill meant to my son.
bow hunting with youth

late season staging areas

Hunting Late Season Staging Areas

It was the unmistakable sound of deer, not just a couple deer, but several. No more than 20-yards from my stand were a number of deer walking on the outside edge of the cornfield.
While the lack of light prevented me from seeing anything but silhouettes, what I could see was these deer had staged a considerable distance beyond my stand—the setup was ‘20-minutes’ too far South.
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Late season bowhunting normally takes place near prime food sources. And while it’s easy to think of deer making a beeline from bedding to food, in most cases deer ‘stage’ before feeding.

These ‘staging’ areas are where deer transition to after they exit a bedding area. Think of staging areas as a safe and secure area where deer loiter, and then move through while on their way to a preferred food source.

So if the deer you’re hunting are arriving after dark, the trick is to locate and hunt staging areas. This might mean moving your stand beyond its current location. And while no bowhunter wants to move a stand this time of year, if the deer aren’t visible during legal shooting hours, you might not have a choice.

Weather, Terrain and Pressure

Depending on the weather, the type of terrain, and the amount of hunting pressure, staging areas can differ from location to location. I’ve seen bucks use a cedar thicket, a grassy field, a small but secure food source and even a fairly open oak flat to stage in.
It’s important to remember late season staging areas will usually correspond with the three aspects we’ve already mentioned— weather, terrain and pressure.
When hunting late season whitetails there are things we know positively, other things we’re pretty sure of and a considerable amount of things that take time to figure out exactly. Late season staging areas fall into the last category—it takes time to find the exact location where a mature buck is staging.
Preferably, staging areas should be located post season, however, that’s not always possible. As Bill Winke says, “Picking the perfect tree is really an evolution that occurs over the course of several seasons—at least two or three seasons.“ So don’t get discouraged, learning where deer stage can take time.


Whitetails are known to bed with their back to the wind. When a whitetail, especially a whitetail buck, leaves its bedding area it will normally travel at a 45-degree angle to or directly into the wind. As a buck exits his bed, and begins moving towards the food source it will then ‘stage’ in an area downwind of the food source until last light.
If a buck cannot enter the feeding area with the wind completely in its favor, it may stage at a vantage point where it can visually scan the field before moving into the open.
Finding late season staging areas begins by studying aerial maps and researching prevailing winds. This research will assist in giving you an understanding of how and where a buck might enter the food source using the wind to its advantage. Now that bucks have been pressured for several months, and are very wary as a result, they are much more likely to stay on the downwind side when entering a food source.
After researching terrain features and wind movements, draw some conclusions. Then carefully go in during an afternoon and backtrack on the main trails leading to the food source. Staging areas are often found 50-100 yards off a primary food source and may not be all that far away from your current stand location.
late season staging area

Thermal Cover

During extreme cold deer will often stage in adequate thermal cover. This cover, such as a cedar or pine thicket, will provide some form of protection from the severe winter weather.
Due to whitetail needing to conserve energy during extreme cold, I’ve seen them stage in thermal cover for a considerable amount of time, especially if it’s windy. Winter winds are known to subside as darkness falls and during the late season deer will take advantage of staging areas that offer a wind break.
When searching for staging areas in thermal cover, take note of any prior signpost activity, such as rubs or scrapes. Also pay attention to any fresh droppings or a significant amount of tracks, these can be telltale signs you’ve found where a buck stages before moving to a food source.


If hunting in an area with ridges and valleys, bucks will either stage on a vantage point, such as a knob or bench, where they can view the feeding area before entering it, or they will stage in a low area where they can remain completely out of sight.
Several years ago I hunted a staging area that was located at the back of a large wheat field. At the back of the field was a deep depression that prevented anything or anyone from seeing the deer as they entered the field.
Each evening up to 40 deer would pile into that depression. They would wait until dark then move into the open field. The issue for these deer wasn’t necessarily cover, but security.
Currently I’m hunting a farm where the bucks move from bedding, up the ridges and then stage on various acorn flats. These flats are relatively open but surrounded by young saplings, which provides a type of sanctuary.
Each hunting area will have its peculiar differences and must be hunted accordingly. Whatever the terrain, staging areas will be unique places where deer feel secure.
Hopefully these tips will get you started in the right direction, but nothing can take the place of firsthand observation. Sometimes you have to set up and observe in order to pinpoint the behavioral characteristics of the bucks within the terrain you’re hunting.
staging areas


Depending on where your hunting property is located, you may be hunting heavily pressured bucks. So far they’ve survived archery season, the rut, firearms season and they’re keyed in to one thing—survival.
When hunting pressured bucks during the late season, bedding and staging areas can seem impossible to locate. If they could, these bucks would wrap themselves in an invisible cloak. They’re not taking any chances.
I remember watching three late season whitetail bed in a small patch of grass located smack-dab in the middle of a harvested grain field. Later in the day I watched three hunters walk within 10 feet of that little patch of grass. I shook my head wondering if the deer had moved without me seeing them. But, at last light all three deer stood up and made their way to the food source. This was a perfect example of how late season whitetail react to pressure.
Hunting pressured whitetail requires us to think like one. Where would you go to escape hunting pressure, yet be within proximity of a prime food source? Again, this is where satellite imagery and topographical maps can help you figure out where a buck might be hiding.
Often these pressured bucks will head to a small patch of cattails, a deserted pasture, an abandoned orchard, a small bench, a point off the end of a ridge, or a small island in a body of water. Wherever they locate, it will be impossible for any predator, human or otherwise, to approach without being detected. These bucks know that locating and staying in an out-of-the-way sanctuary is their only means of survival.
This is where a trail camera can assist in locating a pressured buck’s staging area.
Although I would be very careful in taking anything into a staging area that might make a buck uncomfortable, you can consistently relocate a camera farther down a main trail leading to a food source. Continually moving the camera toward the direction a buck is coming from will give you a good idea where the buck is staging.
Be sure and hang the camera off the trail (I like to hang the camera high so it is inconspicuous) and if possible stay off the trail when entering and exiting the area. The same goes for when you hang your stand in or near the staging area—always stay downwind and off the main trail.


As always, be extremely careful when locating late season staging areas. Remember, scent control is paramount and never hunt a staging area unless the wind is perfect. These staging areas are like a ‘safe house’ for whitetail and if you’re not careful about scent and sound, that buck may not return this season.
While we’ve touched on only a few aspects of locating and hunting staging areas, once found these magical places can hold the secret to late season success.

persistence hunting late season

Late Season Requires, ‘Persistence Hunting’

In the mid-90’s I read a lot of Dwight Schuh. I was so enamored with the guy I even ‘invested’ in a Dwight Schuh hunting pack—I hoped a little of Schuh’s bowhunting mojo might rub off.
I saw Schuh as an authority on the subject of bowhunting and learned to respect his insight. So it’s no surprise that anytime I see a Dwight Schuh article I still take the time to read and ponder his advice—especially if it can be applied to whitetail hunting.
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I recently stumbled on to one of Schuh’s articles that reminded me of what a hunter’s perspective during the late season should look like. And while this challenging insight should be applied to late season hunting, it certainly can be applied to life in general. Schuh wrote:

“Essentially, persistence hunters run down their prey. That’s possible, anthropologist theorize, because humans are built better for long-distance running than four legged animals are, and they can carry food and water. They also sweat over their entire bodies, enabling them to cool down on a run in the midday heat, while mammals have to stop and pant in the shade to cool down. Men working together can keep pushing their prey to the point of exhaustion.
Perhaps, above all, humans have a will. They can will themselves to persist—even past the point of exhaustion. They can will themselves not to give up.”

And what you might ask, does ‘persistence hunting’ have to do with late season? Everything! With only a few weeks remaining in the hunting season, this is no time to give up or quit. Schuh concludes:

“While modern hunters might not literally run down game, we have the tools to outlast them—the clothes, the gear, the foods, and the training to persist under any conditions.
Above all we have a will. We can will ourselves to never give up. More often than not, that decision will dictate the outcome of the hunt…”

Discouraged? Don’t be, dig deep and find some bulldog tenacity. Put your heart and soul into every hunt. Give it all you got until the last sunset of the season.
Become a ‘persistence hunter.’ For “More often than not, that decision will dictate the outcome of the hunt…”

indiana urban archery

After School Bowhunting Success

The ‘thump’ of book-filled backpacks sounded throughout the vehicle. Another school day had ended and the three boys I had just picked up couldn’t have been happier
“Dad, I’d like to go hunting. Can you drop me off?” It was more than a question. The young man’s inquiry was the result of his passion for bowhunting and derived from deep desire to be in the outdoors.
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His question brought back a dozen memories. When I was his age, after school meant checking trap lines, shooting squirrels and exploring what was beyond the next bend in the trail.
I delayed my response until I had checked the wind direction. “It’s a perfect wind, son! And with the approaching storm it should be a good evening.” A bad head cold meant I wouldn’t be able to join my son, but I had the confidence he would be just fine by himself.
This is the first year we’ve hunted the farm my son was wanting to go to. It’s located in an urban area and the farmer wants as many deer taken off the property as possible. The urban deer population cost the farmer a significant amount of money each year, and with a lack of hunting pressure, there are few checks and balances for herd management.
Since we can hunt this farm until the end of January, we have been trying to save it until the late season. With several bucks and does on trail camera, it should provide plenty of opportunity.
As we drove through the countryside my son and I discussed different outcomes of the hunt and how he was to respond to each scenario.
“Check it out, there’s a buck!” I came to a complete stop for a better look. Standing in a freshly picked cornfield was a young buck who paid us little to no attention.
“That’s only a few hundred yards from the blind.”
I was hoping this was a sign of good things to come. Although, when hunting Indiana’s urban archery season each hunter is required to ‘earn a buck.’ Meaning the hunter must kill an ‘antlerless’ deer before he or she can fill their buck tag—this young buck was safe.
Hardly an hour had passed when my phone rang. An excited voice on the other end of the line said, “I just smoked a doe.”
He was elated and so was I.
The ‘doe’ ended up being a button buck, but I couldn’t be happier for my son. His shot placement was perfect, the meat will be delectable and the farmer will be happy to have us back again.
Thank you, Lord for another successful bowhunt.

Late Season Deer Hunting: A Different Animal

Late season deer hunting doesn’t appeal to everyone. Bone chilling temperatures and brutal conditions can make even the most seasoned hunter wonder if the odds of notching his or her tag are next to nil.
But, don’t let the word ‘late’ make you feel pressured or lure you into predicting how the season might end. Late season deer hunting continues to offer plenty of potential when it comes to killing a mature buck.
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Late Season Deer Hunting

Late season deer hunting means it’s time to rethink strategy. And while most would advise when hunting the whitetail rut to focus on the quantity of time spent in the stand, late season is the time to focus on the quality of time spent in the stand.
This means paying special attention to the details. For the details will sort out why, where and when you need to be hunting during the late season.

Weather Determines Whether

In December of 2012 my son and I experienced a memorable late season deer hunt. We had set our stands overlooking a cut cornfield, and by the amount of fresh tracks in the snow, our chances of success looked very high.
Around 4:00 that afternoon several does started funneling into the corn stubble. A few minutes later a buck we had never seen before joined the procession. This buck would have easily scored 150 plus inches and was feeding while there was plenty of daylight.
We immediately recognized there were two significant items at play here. Coupled with the attraction of the cut corn, the weather also determined this buck’s movements. Responding to a falling barometer and an approaching snowstorm, the buck was on his feet earlier in the day in an attempt to find food before it was covered in several inches of fresh snow.
Late season deer hunting requires the hunter to pay close attention to the weather. When a winter storm is getting ready to dump on a prime food source, deer will usually be up and feeding well in advance of the changing weather.
Extreme dips in temperature can also result in deer being increasingly active and more visible during daylight hours. This is due to a whitetail’s need to increase its calorie intake in order to stay warm.
The opposite is also true. If the weather has been extremely cold for an extended period of time, then breaks, and is followed by rising temperatures, this change in weather can also initiate a spike in deer activity.
Whether warmer or colder, be sure to take advantage of any weather that may increase your chances of killing a late season buck. During late season deer hunting, weather can determine whether your chances are increased.
late season deer hunting

Eager For Energy

If your mother ever threatened to make you pay for the electric bill because you left a light on, then you’ll understand how whitetail think during the late season—especially whitetail bucks.
Post-rut bucks enter into ‘survival’ or ‘conservation’ mode after the rut. Depleted energy stores, from days (and nights) of chasing estrus does, means bucks need to consume plenty of calories in order to rebuild fat stores for the upcoming winter. To efficiently rebuild its worn out body, a buck will decrease the size of its winter range in an effort to conserve energy.
‘Energy savings’ is why late season bucks can often be found bedded not far from a prime food source. The shorter the distance they have to travel the less energy is consumed.
This is an important element to consider when deer hunting late season. For if the distance between your stand site and a buck’s late season bedding area has decreased, preventative measure should be taken on your part. Late season deer hunting means the hunter must be very careful when entering and exiting a stand site.
Depending on your stand placement and entry and exit routes, consider taking extra precaution if hunting row crops in the morning. If you’re going to risk spooking deer off the field or out of a nearby bed when approaching your stand, it’s best to change your strategy and hunt only in the afternoons.
Taking into account these significant changes in behavior patterns can make all the difference when deer hunting late season.
tips for deer hunting late season

Fixated On Food

Beyond weather or travel patterns, the number one motivator for late season whitetails is food. Therefore, finding a quality food source is the number one priority if you’re going to kill a late season whitetail.
During the late season it’s easy to become enamored with standing corn or corn stubble, but don’t ignore an opportunity to hunt over standing soybeans or an acorn flat.
As we mention in Field Crops, Row Crops And Whitetails, “Beans will provide a late season smorgasbord for hungry whitetail, even when there’s standing corn nearby. Soybeans contain a considerable amount of protein and fat, and winter whitetails know just how much nutrition is held within those pods.” If you have access to a standing bean field, by all means get to hunting it.
Then again, row crops aren’t the only food on a whitetail’s menu. Don’t be misled into thinking you need to only hunt row crops during the late season.
Most areas in the Midwest have seen an abundance of acorns this year. A bumper mast crop cannot be ignored when trying to target a late season whitetail.
As whitetail guru Scott Bestul states, “After the rigors of the rut, with winter weather moving in, late-season whitetails seek acorns because they provide lots of fat, are easily digested and, unlike corn and bean stubble, are located within the security of the woods—which is critical to pressured deer. In some heavily forested habitats, acorns may be the only substantial high-energy food source at this time of year.”
Let the deer tell you what late season food they prefer. Once you locate what food sources the whitetail in your area are fixated on—go hunt it.
deer hunting late season

Triggered By Testosterone

The testosterone level in a whitetail buck doesn’t come with an off and on switch. Just as there is a gradual increase of testosterone during the summer months, there is a gradual decline after the rut. And while most bucks will not show the same aggressive behavior seen during the peak rut, they still have a desire to breed during the late season.
Depending on the amount of estrus does in an area and the buck to doe ratio, the testosterone level of a whitetail buck can remain elevated for some time.
Take advantage of this by locating and hunting doe groups during the late season. Bucks will still be scent checking does on a regular basis even before the ‘secondary’ rut arrives.
The ‘secondary’ rut comes approximately 28 days after the peak rut. For most of the Midwest this means some time in December, but can stretch out as far as February. During the secondary rut mature does that were not bred will cycle into estrus a second time and 7-8 month old doe fawns will enter their first estrus cycle.
And while the hunter cannot expect to see the same rutting activity he or she saw in November, there is a good chance of seeing a mature buck if you continue to hunt where there is a concentration of does.


Late season deer hunting isn’t for the faint of heart. But, these late season tips can be your ticket to success. Plan wisely, stick to a strategy and hunt intentionally.