Tips & Tactics

It's Never Over

It's Never Over

By Ken Piper

The end of the hunting season doesn't mean an end to hunting preparation.

Deer season just ended here in Alabama yesterday, and while that's later than most of the rest of the country, it brings to mind a few considerations.

First, hunting season might be over, but the weeks immediately following its closure are at least as important as the weeks leading up to the opener.

Right now (or maybe I should say right after your season's closure) is the best time to get a handle on what bucks are still alive, and perhaps even more importantly, where they are hanging out toward the end of the season.

Don't pull your trail cameras yet. Keep them working to confirm the location of bucks that made it through the season, and store those pictures for comparison next summer. Chances are those summer bucks won't be in the same locations they were when you captured their images at the end of the season. Putting those pieces together can give you a real plan for shifting your hunting locations and strategies throughout the coming season.

When the buck you're after in September or October suddenly disappears, he might be on his way to his later-season hangouts. And you'll already know where those are based on the pictures you saved last winter.

Something else to keep in mind as the season ends regards feeding. If you've been feeding deer protein, or even corn, an abrupt halt at the end of the season can be disastrous.

Without getting into biology details, know that it takes time for whitetails to adjust to a new diet. The good bacteria in their stomachs adapts to changing food. An abrupt halt to protein or corn forces deer to switch to natural browse that, at that time of year, can be scarse and of low quality. And because their stomachs aren't ready for the switch, they can literally starve to death with full stomachs.

Consider extending your feeding activities throughout the winter. Doing so will help bucks put more energy into antler growth the following spring and summer, and helps does produce healthier fawns while decreasing their recovery time.

Whenever you stop any feeding activity, do so gradually to allow the deer to adjust to new food sources.

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