How to Make the Last Weekend of Deer Season Count

Here we are again at the end of another frustrating deer season here in California. High temperatures, drought conditions and increasing pressure have made it tough to find a nice buck. A lot of hunters will throw in the towel and I don’t blame them. But there will be plenty of us stubborn hunters that will go out and give it our all this weekend. Here’s what I’m doing.

It seems like a “Murphy’s Law” kind of scenario when I look at the forecast for this weekend with lower temperatures and rain predicted on the closing day (Sunday). Now it decides it’s going to rain, on the last day of the bloody season . . . super! But, that’s great news if you’re hunting anywhere in the northern part of the state and the Pacific Northwest.

Instead of staying mad at Mr. Murphy, I’m going to go all out and hunt like it’s my last chance ever—because you never know, it might be! The good news is that when the weather changes, the deer will be happier than they’ve been all season and will be out and about.

On to the plan: Get out a half hour to an our earlier than you would normally. By now you should know where the spot you want to be is. The longer you can be there hunkered down before it gets light, the more likely that you’ll see some action. It never fails, if I think I’m there early enough, over half the time, I kick a good buck out. If I were there an hour earlier, I would have gone unnoticed when he started his morning ritual.

If you have no luck with the early arrival and you don’t hear anything around, get the heck out of there and go to another location. I usually give it an hour after it gets light and if nothing comes out, I quietly go and set up somewhere else and do the same thing. Sometimes, you can get three good opportunities to still hunt in the morning. After that, it’s time to change gears.

There are a couple different scenarios for the next tip. If it’s starting to rain, I like to continue still hunting in different locations. Try to find thick areas that open up into fields or clear-cuts. Typically during a rain, deer will come in and out of these thick areas to eat and just enjoy the rain. If it’s not raining, I go after them.

Drives are the last ditch effort and in my opinion, one of the best ways to get some action. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jumped nice bucks coming down a mountain through the brush. I prefer small drives because it’s a lot easier to keep everyone on the same page. I usually hunt with one other guy and we take turns driving and waiting. One guy goes up and comes down through the brush or thick areas while the other guy waits at a predetermined escape route. It’s a very effective and exciting method.

The bottom line is that you’ll have to work for it. I plan on hunting hard all day Saturday and Sunday. That means I’ll be getting to my spot early and planning on hunting all day. Believe it or not, deer often come out when most hunters are eating lunch. I will be on it all day going through a series of sits and drives all day. And, you can bet that I’ll be closely looking at where the fresh tracks are and following them. There is a buck at the end of those tracks and it’s up to the hunter how much work he is willing to do to follow them and find the pot of gold.

Lastly, if I end up coming home empty handed, I will at least have the satisfaction that I gave it my all—can’t do much more than that.