It is the end of November and despite having a strong preseason of scouting and planning, I have yet to go hunting. This is the reality for hunters many hunters with a full time job, financial burdens, and social obligations. What are we supposed to do with the little time we have left and no current intel on deer activity? How are we supposed to recover our hunting season this far into the year?
A great starting point for recovering our hunting season is to look at what our spots produced in years past. We can cut out some of the guess work in an already desperate situation to fill our freezers.
Patterns change throughout the year. As a result, the only relevant knowledge gained from this year’s preseason scouting is doe bedding areas. Those should be unchanged for the most part, depending on hunting pressure. As far as buck patterns, you can be sure they are far off from August and September.
Right now, a mobile climbing tree stand is our best friend. As are most aggressive tactics. Remaining mobile is important, especially since we don’t really know yet if preset hang-on stands hold any relevance. You may have to move to a tree one hundred or ten yards off. You can do so with minimal invasiveness.
You should get out on the roads and spot deer that way. Use suburban America to your advantage. Aggressive tactics like spot and stalks from the road can pan out as well as provide valuable intelligence about where to set up next.
Combine Scouting and Hunting
For the most part, I step into the woods with a very solid hunting plan. I know what stand to head to or what tree to climb. Since I haven’t been in the area for quite some time, I try to read the current sign I cut and let it tell me what is going on. It’s possible my set up is off, but at least I have a starting point to closing the gap between no knowledge and a harvested deer.
Look, we have already lost the majority of our season. There’s no reason why we should fear getting aggressive. We have nothing to lose. In my book, I discussed aggressive tactics like hanging up right in bedding areas very early in the morning or using deer drives to force movement and activity. We are all closing in on the end, so it’s time to force results no matter how hard you pressure the deer you are hunting.
If we’re lucky, we might still have trail cameras in the woods that haven’t been stolen or run out of batteries. That could be a real saving grace to recover your hunting season and provide relevant up-to-date information on deer movement and inventory. It’s not too late to put cameras out, either. I find myself bringing them in on the hunt. A week of deer movement on a camera can warrant a full recovery of our seasons.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.