How You Can Use Scent Management to Fill Your Tag
There aren’t many situations quite like a late season deer hunt. It’s a very unique experience that can really make some lasting memories. Bitter cold temperatures, snow swirling around in drifts, and desperate deer seeking food can all make for an exciting hunt. But it can also be really challenging for a variety of reasons. You need to pay attention to the weather, adopt some different hunting tactics, and really focus on scent management in some tricky conditions. Here are some late season deer hunting techniques you can adopt for archery or muzzleloader seasons.
During much of the late season, hunting all day in a tree stand or ground blind may not be a very comfortable option. But they can really pay off. The post-rut period might not always be considered the truly “late season,” but this is a fantastic time to sit still all day. Bucks are still breeding does and chasing them around, which means that you could potentially see a buck at any time of the day. Mature bucks, in particular, aren’t likely to move much during the early season because they can likely find a receptive doe pretty easily. But after the peak rut, they have to move a little more to find a doe that hasn’t been bred already. This is when it pays to be in your tree stand and ready for anything at all times. In the really late season, when a whitetail’s everyday life revolves around food and thermal cover, it can make more sense to just hunt mornings and evenings where bedding areas and food sources, respectively, are the best spots to be. Here are a few methods you can use to hunt a late season buck.
Late Season Hunting
As we mentioned above, late season hunts have their challenges to overcome. But the reward of tagging a mature buck in this season is well worth the effort. There are several ways you can still capitalize on this time of year, using warm clothing and scent elimination tricks.
Cold Weather Conditions
The first thing about the late season period is that the weather is much colder than you’re probably used to. Depending on where you live, it can be downright uncomfortable to be outside at all, let alone perched up in a tree stand in the gusting winds of November or December. But that can be one of the best and most dependable times of year to get a truly big whitetail.
The key is to really pay attention to your body and the weather conditions. If you sweat in this weather, you will inevitably freeze when you slow down. Perspiration will soak your clothing and rob you of your body heat much faster than dry clothing. In addition, sweating will produce a lot of scent that you’ll have to reduce using your ozone scent elimination technology. So as you walk to your tree stand in the morning, wear as little clothing as you can so you won’t get too hot. If you wear your full hunting clothing, you will be sweaty within 50 yards, and you’ll have a terrible morning trying to stay put. Instead, strip down to your base layer so you remain a little cold while walking in.
That brings up another critical point. It’s vitally important to wear layers in cold weather. If you wear one large insulating layer, it’s impossible to adjust your warmth with your activity levels. But if you can remove layers while you’re walking in and add them back on when you’re sitting motionless in your tree stand, you can stay sweat-free and warmer. Keeping a few hand and foot warmers with is a good way to keep your digits warmer too.
Hunting Techniques for Late Season
ll also likely need to tweak your hunting approach if you want to put a mature whitetail buck down. In most places, late season whitetails have been pushed and hunted to the point of exhaustion and complete nervous breakdowns. As a result, they are extremely wary creatures that require a different approach to hunt effectively. They don’t allow you to make many mistakes before quickly taking off to another county.
Whitetails require stealth in addition to good scent management techniques to hunt at any time, but this is even more important in the late season months. As you approach your tree stand or ground blind location in the pre-dawn morning hours, your goal should be to be as quiet and stealthy as a US Marine behind enemy lines. Take each step carefully being sure to not break a branch underfoot. If the ground is covered in crunchy or squeaky snow, you won’t be able to sneak in. Instead, try to imitate a squirrel by taking three quick steps, followed by a pause. Alternatively, you can walk in a deer’s cadence and let out deer grunts occasionally.
Scent Management Tips
As we mentioned, it’s critical to stay undetected in the late season months, perhaps more so than any other hunting season. Scent control is king. It’s important to take advantage of passive and active scent control practices before and after your hunt, respectively, to avoid getting winded by wary deer. But without the right scent elimination accessories, it can be difficult to stay scent-free during an all-day sit in the woods. You need to adopt some aggressive scent management techniques to make this feasible.
First, ozone or oxidation technology is the best way to manage and control the scent you produce while you’re in the woods. Always have an Ozonics® HR-300 unit with you, whether you choose to sit in a tree stand or ground blind. Using an in the field ozone generator is simply the most effective way to manage your scent from both the active and passive perspectives. By “passively” treating your gear pre-hunt you reduce your odor footprint before ever stepping into the woods. You can then continue to “actively” manage your scent by eliminating, altering and ultimately reducing the odor you release into the down wind scent-stream while getting to and from your stand and during the entirety of your hunt by using your Ozonics HR300 unit and Kinetic pack in tandem. But when you sit from dawn to dusk in frigid weather, it’s not uncommon for batteries to die before you can complete your hunt. And any time you hunt without using the scent management tips here, you’re at risk for alerting deer to your presence. The Ozonics® Extended Life batteries are a great solution to this problem. The HR-300 XL Battery lasts 8 hours in tree stand (boost) mode or 10 hours in standard blind mode. When you combine this with a standard battery that lasts about 4 to 5 hours, you can easily sit in a tree stand or ground blind all day. The battery can be recharged in only six hours using the HR-300 battery charger.
Now is the Time
When the late season arrives and all-day sits start to really pay off, it’s time to pay attention to your hunting approach. It’s critical to stay undetected using good scent management techniques and silent entry and exit routes. Of course, you also need to stay warm enough to sit still all day. If you can do this and position yourself in the right spot, you have a great chance of filling your tag in the late season.