Mule deer hunting can become a very addicting passion, to me I love chasing these insanely smart animals throughout fall in Western North Dakota. For those that are like me and more often than not end up finding themselves with an unfilled tag towards the end of the season, we have to resort to hunting them during less than favorable conditions.
Utilizing the late season and potential snowpack to one’s advantage can help further your odds of a successful stalk. I’ve hunted mule deer on opening weekend in 90+ degree heat as well as on the very last day of the season in a frigid -5 degree with a blustery wind in my face. As much as I hate to admit it, I will stalk mule deer in the frigid blustery temps over a hot fall day!
The main reason late season hunting can be a huge asset to a spot and stalk hunter is the fact that there will likely be snow on the ground. Being able to cut fresh tracks in the morning can help guide you in the right direction to scout or help lead you to where the buck you spotted is heading after he may have been bumped from his bed.
Another big advantage of hunting late season is you are not worrying about sunlight and shadows moving deer out of their beds while you are on a stalk. Utilizing cool temps and cloud cover will help ease you into an optimal shooting position on a stalk without having to worry about rushing or hurrying a stalk to the deer before the sun hits him in his bed.
When it comes to areas and deer movement you will start to notice a transition between the early season and late season and where you will find these deer hanging out. Early season you will find most deer up high or in thick cover with shade to stay cool. December weather can make mule deer become more exposed as they are seeking sunlight to warm themselves throughout the cold winter days or will be in open areas foraging for food if there is snow on the ground. Utilizing these cold temps and sunlight can add a huge advantage to glassing and spotting a potential deer a lot easier.
The last thing that is to one’s advantage come late season is that there is generally less pressure. Most people enjoy hunting in fair weather and tend to stay home when the weather turns south. This means sticking out brutal weather on a late-season hunt can provide you with countless spots to hunt without worrying about other hunters already being there or hunting the same deer.
Don’t let cold temps and snow deter you from your next spot and stalk mule deer adventure, as you may be surprised how much of an advantage these two things can provide you in trying to seal the deal on that mule deer you have been watching all season! Oh, and PS…. don’t forget to bring the hand and toe warmers, you won’t regret having them!