John’s Note: Deer hunters often find hunting miserable during the month of December because the deer know more about you than you do about them. The deer know what time you go hunting and what time you break for lunch; when you’ll return to the woods; where you’ve located your tree stands; where you hunt most often; and where you seldom hunt. The deer have psyched you out and outsmarted you. Let’s look at deer hunting in December.
If most of your hunting buddies don’t bag bucks in December, then you must learn how and where to hunt in places they’re not hunting.
Fly Over the Property: “One of the best ways I’ve learned to scout any piece of property that I’m going to hunt after the leaves have fallen off the trees is to rent an airplane and fly over the property,” says George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, two-time Bassmaster Classic champion, and an avid deer hunter. “From the air, you can spot deer trails that you more than likely won’t be able to see if you’re on the ground. You can look down in thickets and see openings that you’ll never see from the ground. You oftentimes can spot bucks out in the middles of sage and grass fields that you won’t ever see if you’ve spooked them. Too, you can identify bottlenecks and funnel areas that you may not have been able to see from the ground.” In many areas, you can charter an airplane for a $100 an hour or less, save a tremendous amount of scouting time and locate many bucks that you probably won’t spot unless you get above them.
Use Trail Cameras: I can’t think of any better tool for locating big bucks, especially at this time of year, than using trail cameras. These motion-sensor cameras not only will tell you if you have an older-age class buck on your property to hunt but also will let you know in which direction the deer has gone, what time of day or night the deer moves and the size of the deer. Too, these cameras can identify the ghost bucks that are nocturnal, live on your land and that you’ve never seen.
“Trail cameras have taught me that there are more deer in the woods than any of us have ever imagined,” says John Frank of Rubio, Iowa, a student of deer and deer movement. I interviewed Frank about why, how and where he hunted for shed antlers. From that interview, I learned that he considered trail-timer cameras the best scouting tools deer hunters had to keep up with big bucks rarely seen in the daylight. “I’ve photographed one huge buck on my grandparents’ property and gotten three pictures of him at different times,” Frank comments. “Although I know exactly where he lives, I’ve never seen him when I’ve been hunting. This buck is totally nocturnal, and the only pictures that I have of him have been taken at night. But because I know where this buck lives, I can go in and hunt for his antlers after the season and take his trophy rack, even if I never take him with a gun or a bow.”
Frank also has established with his TrailMaster cameras (http://www.trailmaster.com) the importance of moon phase as it influences deer movement. According to Frank, “When I’m hunting deer or sheds, I make notes as to the time of day when I spot deer moving. Then, when I get home, I check the phase of the moon to attempt to learn on what moon phase bucks move most during daylight hours.” From keeping very detailed notes, Frank has learned that, “Deer move the most when the moon is directly overhead or directly under your feet. From personal observation and from using my trail cameras, I’ve found that the first quarter of the moon going into the full moon is the best time during October and November and often December to see big deer moving during daylight hours. I get the most photographs of bucks at nighttime on the full moon.”
To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and print books on hunting deer, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings,” click here.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.