Those Late Season Whitetail Bucks

Season drawing to an end? Have not taken a deer yet? If you play your cards right, there is no reason not to get a deer towards the end of deer season.

Here in Texas regular rifle season has passed and we are now in muzzleloader and youth season. Youth season is for anyone age 16 and under to be able to hunt deer. Adults have to use a muzzleloader, anyone 16 and under can use any legal means – bow, rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader.

Up until this year, muzzleloader season and youth season lasted for 1 week. In 2011 Texas Parks and Wildlife extended the season to 2 weeks.  Next year be sure to check the hunting regulations, because they seem to change every year.

East Texas Whitetail Does

One thing that is really nice about late season hunting, the bucks tend to flock together. The rut is over and the does have been bred. While humans might have a bar-b-que to socialize, bucks look to find food.  During the rut the bucks have expended a lot of energy and lot a lot of weight.  Now its time to eat and put some weight back on before the heart of winter arrives.

While the does were in estrus, the bucks were chasing them hot and heavy. This means that the doe did not have a lot of time to eat, because they were too busy either trying to get bred, or trying not to get bred.

My nephew asked he could spend the weekend at my house and visit with my son for a couple of days. I said “sure, why not”. My nephew has not been able to go deer hunting yet this year, so while was was at my house I decided to go to the lease and put him in a stand. Since my brother is a member of the deer lease, and my nephew is under the age of 18, this is not considered the same thing as bringing a guest to the lease.

The day started off at 4:30am with the alarm going off. If there is a clock heaven and hell, I hope there is a special place in hell for alarm clocks. Despite the alarm demanding that I get out bed “right then”, I stayed under those nice, warm, cozy blankets until around 4:45 or 4:50. I got out of bed, put some shorst on and went to get my nephew up – knocked on the door, flipped the light on, and did the typical “its time to get up” line. From there I went to get my shower, put my contacts in, and got dressed.

Even though I could not shoot a deer, I still brought my new DS Arms SA58, just in case I saw a hog.  The local wild hogs make it a habit to raid the feeders, and I wanted to be ready just in case I saw some hogs this morning.   Also included in my gear was a Maxpedition Noatak and a Surefire G2X Pro.

Upon checking on my nephew a second time, I was not surprised to see that he had fallen back to sleep and was still in bed. Ok, lets do this a second time – “its time to get up,,,,,,,.”

By the time I got of my gear loaded in the truck, my nephew was up and getting ready. A few minutes later and we were loaded up and heading to the local doughnut shack. I got a small sausage and jalapeno kolache, and my nephew got 2 of the same – along with a monster energy drink.

From the doughnut shop, it was maybe a 30 minute drive to the lease, and then another 20 minute walk to my nephews deer stand.

The air temp was right at 40 degrees, and the skys were clear. It was just cold enough for the tips of my fingers to go numb without gloves.

We got to my nephews deer stand, and the first thing he did was shine his flashlight around looking for spiders and red wasp. While he was shining the light around, my nephew just happened to shine the light out of a window and right into my eyes; good-bye night vision it was fun while it lasted.

Ok, everything looks good, no monster spiders to squash, and no red wasp,,, so my nephew settled in. From there I had to make the 20 minute walk back to the stand that I was going to be sitting in. So its down one hill, across a small dried up creek, back up another hill, down a short trail, and to the box stand that I will be in for the next 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Time check – somewhere around 6:15am. The first rays of sunlight are just started to break over the tops of the trees, but its still dark.

At around 6:45 the feeder goes off.

There are a lot of people out there that object to using wildlife feeders, but here in Texas its legal, so they are used.

Justification For Deer Feeders:

Deer are Opportunist Eaters

Whitetail deer are like goats and will eat just about anything. Whether its grass, twigs, small limbs, weeds,,, whitetail deer graze as they go. Several years ago there was an article in a popular hunting magazine talking about how deer eat the weeds.

If your able to find the weeds, your going to find deer. I almost laughed out loud at that article. What happens when your hunting in new growth timber and weeds are all over the place? That means that deer are all over the place.

Timber Companies Cutting Old Oaks

Deer love acorns, that could be common knowledge.  But what is not common knowledge is how timber companies are clearing the old oak forest to make room for fast growing pine trees.  A couple of years ago a local timber company cut down some rather old oak trees, and just left them to rot.  A few were bulldozed into piles and burned, but the rest were left to the weather, sunlight and termites.  Some of the oaks that were cut down and left to rot, were 75 year old mature red oaks.

red oak tree

Late season acorns supply deer with a good supply of food.  But when those trees are cut down to make room for fat growing pine trees, that food has to be replaced.  This is where wildlife feeders come in. As evil as they sound, wildlife feeders help replace a food source that has been partially destroyed. Instead of old oaks running all through the forest, in a lot of places their range is limited to near creeks and streams – where to timber companies do not want to cut due to fear of erosion.

Ok, back to our story.

The feeder went off around 6:45, the first deer came out at round 7:00. At first there were only 4 does. A few minutes later 2 bucks cam in. 1 buck had his nose down like he was following his nose. A couple of the does did not like the bucks being there, so they took off.

The 2 bucks stayed around the feeder for maybe 10 minutes, then they headed off into the brush.

Whitetail Bucks East Texas JasperIt was close to 8:00am when a couple of nice size 6 pointers came out of the brush and went to the feeder. A few minutes later a few more came out – for a total of 5 bucks standing around the feeder. Two of the bucks were standing off behind the feeder. I suspect they may have been the oldest bucks in the bunch. After standing around the feeder for a little bit, something spooked the herd and they ran off into the woods.

During the course of 1 hour 7:00am – 8:00am, I saw more deer then I had seen all season long.

Sometime around 8:15,, maybe 8:20 I heard my nephew fire off a shot.  We were going to meet back at the truck at 9:00am anyway, so I got out of the stand and made the hike over to where my nephew was at.  When I arrived, and asked where the deer was at, my nephew replied with something like “over there.”  And sure enough, there was a doe on the ground.

My nephew was shooting a Remington model 7 in 308 Winchester.  The 150 grain Remington Core-Lokt  did a very efficient job of taking the doe down.  From where the doe was standing, there was tissue where the bullet exited the opposite side, and a blood trail that lasted about 10 – 15 feet, which is where the doe fell.

We got the doe tagged, loaded up in the truck and took it to the local butcher.  We wanted the backstrap saved and everything else made into smoked sausage.