The temperature hovered around 25 degrees. As the light began to fade, crystals of frost started to form, and my breath rose into the cold morning air as I surveyed the edge of a field for any movement.
I was sitting on the edge of a late-season food plot. Planted in late summer, it was just beginning to pay off. Brassicas, in this case, radishes and turnips, planted in late summer are ignored until late in the season when the frost turns the otherwise bitter leaves to a sugary morsel deer cannot ignore. They will feed on the frost-covered foliage and then dig up the tubers for later consumption.
My stand was near an inside corner close to a bedding area only 200 yards behind me. A crosswind ensured that if the deer followed their normal pattern, they would enter the field with an hour or more of light within 25 yards and give me an easy shot with my Hoyt bow.
Many deer hunters see December as wasted effort. An unscientific poll I took — asking 15 of my hunting buddies — showed that roughly 85 percent of the hunters I polled stopped hunting completely by Thanksgiving. Reasons were: “It’s too cold,” and “The deer are so spooky it isn’t worth the effort.” The first excuse is easily remedied with proper clothing and layering systems. The second is just plain false. Deer may be moving in different patterns, but they are not more difficult to hunt; you just have to change your hunting tactics. You cannot hunt deer in December the same way you hunt them in September.
When it comes to 11th-hour deer, one thing is on their mind: food. During the rut, bucks throw caution to the wind in search of love.