While it often takes an entire year of hard work and strategy to build a quality late season deer hunt, it can be destroyed in an instant if your hunt timing isn't a good fit. Because the potential spook factor is so high, morning hunting during the late season can be one of the best ways to end your hunt before it even begins.
*While the majority of my oldest and biggest bucks have been shot during the morning hours, there is certainly a time and place to hunt deer in the morning. During the late season, isn't typically the time to take a Morning Sit.
Quality Late Season Setups Are Rare
Quality late season hunts are tough to find during any time of the day, unless you have 3 ingredients that you have worked all year to create: Low hunting pressure levels, and both adequate late season food and cover. While many hunters work very hard at creating quality cover, food or both, by the time the late season rolls around, there are very few whitetail hunting parcels that can actually boast that their lands features some of the lowest levels of hunting pressure in the neighborhood.
The amount of pressure that has been placed on your land or not, is the lowest hole in the bucket for experiencing a quality late season hunt; as long as you have adequate food and cover. If you have consistently spooked deer (whether you know it or not) and don't have at least a little cool season forages or cover, then it doesn't matter if you are hunting during great weather, poor weather, whatever moon phase whim, morning, noon or night - your chances of connecting during the late season are slim to none. The same can be said for any time of the season, but the fact that the late season comes after 2-3 months of hunting pressure, greatly magnifies the critical nature of maintaining low levels of hunting pressure.
Late Season Morning Hunting Equals Pressure
Crunchy ground, daybreak whitetail bedding and zero leaf cover makes it extremely difficult to get in and out of a stand or blind location, without spooking deer. Deer exhibit very defined, short, compact daily movements between food and cover during the late season. If you spook deer during the morning hours, it is really no different than spooking them during the afternoon hours of the same day. Often they spook far, seeking scattered pockets of security cover that are not nearly as plentiful as during the early season. Once deer spook during the late season they often stay put wherever they are relocated to, so you can't afford to make an attempt at a morning hunt, unless there is zero risk of spooking any deer. But should you even hunting during the morning during the late season?
Premium Late Season Evening Hunts
While sitting all day in 1 stand is rarely a good tactic because each period of the day you should be expecting different deer movements, an all day sit during the late season is rarely if ever, a good idea. However, I do suggest that you consider a late season morning hunt if you can:
- Access your stands without spooking deer
- Avoid food sources and bedding areas during your stand access
- Key on above-freezing morning warmups
- Hunt low impact stands near bedding areas
- Stay away from any evening related movements you may hunt within a week
Quality late season morning hunts are extremely rare! But, you are in luck because evening opportunities during the late season feature some of the best hunting all season long. Food and cover sources have been drastically reduced, whitetails are hungry and if you build it, they will come. When you have adequate food and cover sources, have kept from spooking deer from your land during most of the entire season and have attracted a strong portion of the Local Doe Herd to your late season hangout, then you should never risk the potential slam-dunk of an evening hunting, for the chances of slim reward during a late season morning hunt.
*The does know late season habitat! While the risks and rewards are high, there is often nothing better than hunting over a Late Season Food Plot!
While you can never say never when it comes to whitetails, late season morning hunts can be at best, a risky proposition. While I will occasionally consider a late season morning hunt, I do so by reviewing the 5 factors listed above first and often find that taking a morning sit just isn't worth the risk. If you have worked hard all year to create quality late season opportunities, then it pays to make sure that you can capitalize on your efforts by maintaining what you have built, throughout the entire late season. A late season evening hunt can create some of the most defined hunting opportunities all season long, if your hunt hasn't already been, spoiled before the sun even breaks the horizon.