Crossbow hunting the late season can be a difficult endeavor at best. There are a lot more challenges when hunting the late season compared to hunting the early season. Obviously, the weather plays a much more important role during the late season, and hunter comfort and safety become paramount to the outcome of each hunt.
Crossbows are the perfect weapon for late-season hunting. I know several bowhunters who make the transition from vertical bows during the early season to crossbows during the late season. One reason for this is that warmer, bulkier clothes can be worn without impeding one’s ability to accurately draw and shoot and that is not the case using a vertical bow. Also, as a hunter gets older, cold weather tends to stiffen joints and muscles making it even more difficult to accurately shoot vertical equipment.
The most effective thing you can do on any cold-weather hunt is to purchase the proper cold-weather clothing and then wear it in layers. This allows you to remove clothes on your walk in and add clothes throughout the duration of your hunt. Perspiration is your biggest enemy on any cold-weather hunt. Having the proper attire will keep you in the hunt much longer.
Ground blinds are also an important consideration often overlooked by late-season bowhunters. Ground blinds are a much safer choice to use during cold, windy, icy late-season conditions. Not only are they safer to hunt from than an elevated stand, they’re also much warmer. They provide an excellent wind block and contain your body heat. They also allow hunters the ability to move more, which can help generate body heat.
Once you’ve made your equipment choices, the next step to a late-season deer hunt is to locate winter food sources. Most mass producing crops, such as apples, pears and acorns, will be depleted by the late season. You’ll be much better served focusing your efforts on agricultural crops such as soybeans, oats, winter wheat, and corn. Find a standing cornfield and you’ll find the deer. Whatever it is, find it. Look for places where deer congregate and have access to food sources. Once you’ve found the deer, your next task is to locate their travel routes.
Getting in close between the food source and the bedding area requires entering silently and maintaining proper scent control. Depending on where the food source is located, deer may travel a mile or more from their bedding area to access it, or they may be bedded very near the food source if there’s good thermal cover nearby and no human or predator pressure. I’ve had better late-season success placing my setups closer to bedding areas as opposed to setting up on the edge of food sources.
Hunting whitetails during the late season can be extra challenging. Crossbows can make the transition to late-season bowhunting much more effective. There’s nothing more satisfying than affixing your tag to a late-season whitetail that’s endured months of hunting pressure and is currently in true survival mode.
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to harvest that buck of your dreams. For those of you that still have open seasons, pick up a crossbow and get in the woods!
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(Top Photo: Ground blinds are a much safer choice to use during cold, windy, icy late-season conditions.)