It is unfortunate that many hunters are already tagged out or burned out and miss some outstanding cold weather deer hunting, because there are several great ways to kill a buck in December. Water, food, weather changes and the rut, can all steer you to a monster December buck if you choose to brave the cold.
Whether it's sex, energy or water, cold December sits can turn hot pretty darn quickly, for many reasons. While October holds the lazy days of deer hunting and November is crowned as the rutting month, December can best best be described as the month of need. The more that you focus on days and locations that have the potential to meet the highest needs of the deer herd in the most defined of opportunities, the closer you will be to filling your tag on a December buck.
*For a great mix of late season forages that I have personally used for several years and can highly recommend, make sure to check out Northwoods Whitetails! You can also see how I planted and used John's seed blends, in my Favorite Food Plotstrategy.
How To Kill A Buck During December
Even probably more so than October, December is an outstanding time to kill a mature buck! After most gun seasons and the entire annual primary whitetail rut have passed, you can still get it done! He are 5 ways to fill a December buck tag:
1. December Water Sources For Bucks
Deer can live by simply meeting their thirst thru the foods that they eat. However, there is a major difference between lush green forages that contain 50-80% moisture rates such as peas and brassicas, and late December food sources that contain 10-15% or less, such as corn and beans. When the local native vegetation is brown, local crops are drying out and many water sources have frozen, the value of an unfrozen water source, creek or drainage ditch can be deer magnet!
2. Mid Morning Deer Feeding Movements
Even during the secondary rut, morning hunting can be pretty dead during the entire month of December. When daybreak temperatures are well below freezing, many deer are bedded down to conserve energy. This provides an outstanding opportunity to you, to slip in after daybreak with an access route designed to allow you to keep from spooking deer, and then to climb into a stand location to observe mid morning warm-up, browsing opportunities. Young timber cuttings, hinge cuts, briars and acorns can all be exceptional mid-morning browsing opportunities to make sure that you hunt throughout the middle of the day.
3. Pre Blizzard Whitetail Feeding Frenzies
You know it, I know it and you can bet the entire deer herd that lives and breathes 100% of the time in the wild, knows when a major December weather event is coming too! While the conditions are still somewhat calm and a gentle Easterly breeze is kicking up, can be the perfect time to hunt a large patch of browsing habitat during the day or a major food source during the evening. Deer need to build energy reserves to survive harsh Winter weather, so focusing on locations that allow them to pack on the carbs before a frigid December cold front rolls thru, is a great way to be on top of the buck movements!
4. Post Cold Front Energy Management Mode
December is a little about the rut early in the month, but all about building and maintaining energy levels for the entire month. That means that evening food source hunting, mid-day warmups and frigid temp bedding activates should all dictate when and where you decide to hunt bucks during the entire month of December. Deer need to both build and conserve energy levels during December, so whether you are avoiding bedding areas during frigid daybreak temps or keying on specific feeding locations at any time of the day, a buck's need for energy management should be a major consideration for your December hunting efforts.
5. December Whitetail Food Sources
A standing bean field in cold December is about the most can't miss location to fill your buck tag in. Far more than a waterhole during dry weather or the rut, a mock scrape during the entire hunting season, a mineral lick or any deer scent attraction at any time, quality December food sources carry huge levels of attraction. I personally like to focus on a huge combo of greens, including: Brassicas, oats, rye, peas and late planted soybeans. Not only can you create a large volume of food by planting a lush green diversity, you can also create a tempting food attraction that carries a high % of water to quench the thirst of December bucks. Beans and corn are great too, but are much harder to definitively carry thru the hunting season and appreciably into the month of December. By concentrating your efforts to a base of green first, you are well on your way to meeting the needs of December whitetails.
*While water may not trump a standing bean field during a cold December, you can follow these easy steps to create a high attraction Whitetail Waterhole.
December Hunting Conclusion
While December features the last days of many Northern hunting seasons, that doesn't mean that the end of the hunting season needs to die quietly. Instead, by focusing on major cold fronts, water, daily warmups and high quality food, December can easily end up being your best month of the hunting season!