ScentBlocker's Guide to Late Season Whitetails

The picture said a thousand words. Having hunted with ScentBlocker President and CEO Scott Shultz and his grandson Wyatt Peary in Africa- I knew darn well who was behind the camera. Imagining Scott's smiling face brought me back to The Dark Continent- and reminded me of all the great times we shared there together. As I scrolled down, I saw Scott's grandson- Wyatt with an ear to ear grin- proudly holding a giant 10 point whitetail buck. I know Wyatt's family makes their annual journey from Montana to Grandpa's farm in Minnesota each Thanksgiving. And if I knew Scott at all (which I do) I'm almost certain that upon Wyatt's arrival there were a few obligatory hugs and smiles, before young Wyatt was snatched up by grandpa to do the rest of their catching up in the deer blind.


Wyatt and "the big brute"! Wyatt and "the big brute"!


Wyatt filled me in a bit on the hunt. "I was sitting in my grandpas shooting shack, in the middle of a corn field on the second day of our hunt. I was watching small bucks and does for about an hour and a half and then "the big brute" strutted out into the far side of the cornfield. His rear was towards me, so I couldn't see his rack well until he started chasing a spike. He continued to chase the buck and stopped broadside at 60 yards! I bet you can guess what happened then? I made a great shot and he only ran 50 yards or so. He is a wonderful deer. I love his crab claws? They are so neat!” Young Wyatt is such a humble kid- but I've honestly never seen a hunter of his age shoot with such maturity. I wasn't there with him- but I'm sure he took his time and made an excellent shot. The fact that the buck only ran 50 yards is pretty telling.

Scott and I were talking recently and we thought it would be fun to get our thoughts about hunting the late season in print. And... for help and expert advice we decided to bring in Wyatt- probably the most successful ScentBlocker hunter this calendar year! Here is what we consider the important aspects to consider for a hunter to consistently get on deer during the late season.


Step one in the late season is finding a preferred food source. Depending on the location, this could vary. It goes without saying that the late season is the time of year when deer try to fatten back up from a vigorous rut in preparation for another long winter. Crop fields will be a big draw for hungry deer. I like to sit near picked beans and corn. I'll also target standing crop fields- but the chances of them un-picked come mid-December are rare- so I don’t count on it. Deer crave the extra calories that the high carb corn provides and will also gobble up any last chance protein from a bean field. In my area of SW Michigan there are a lot of alfalfa fields and it never fails- each snowy late season deer will be digging around in the hay for a bite or two of some greens as well. Also- if there was a nice acorn crop in the fall, they are probably still a few leftover that the squirrels haven't stowed away. Deer may still be frequenting the oak flats hoping to score on a last minute acorn or two. Find the food and the deer won't be too far off.


Deer are much more efficient then people realize. Survival depends on calories, and their goal this time of year to pack on as many as possible. While saving calories, the deer are also trying to burn as few as possible. Look at calorie count as a bank account, where the goal is to save as many as possible to spend in the future. So... considering how unmotivated the deer are to walk great distances this time of year, try to find a bedding area close to the food. I automatically look for thermal cover- such as pines with branches growing close to the ground, or cedars. Other areas of potential bedding cover could be fence rows, brushy draws, thick stands of prairie grass, dense woods, etc... Where Scott and Wyatt were hunting, the deer were regularly seen entering the field from a nearby woods. “We didn't go into the woods- we knew they were bedding in there and we did not want to scare them.” Wyatt's simple logic makes a lot of sense. Finding the bedding cover isn't hard- just go to the food source and backtrack until deer beds are discovered. This physical scouting in and of itself may be a bit risky- depending on the time of day and what hunting seasons are still happening. The last thing anyone wants to do is scare a bedded buck to a neighbor--who happens to be waiting with a gun--so tread lightly.

Another reason to consider bedding ares is the second rut. Traditionally any young does that did not get into estrus by the primary rut, or mature does that did not get bred, will come into heat again in the late season. Scott had a lot to say about the second rut. “...the secondary rut…perhaps not a prolific event where some are, but in others areas, specifically with higher deer density or especially with lop-sided buck-to-doe ratios, the secondary rut is a significant occurrence in early to mid December. In my area around home, for example, a lot of deer pile into that area which contain standing crops as all the commercial crops on neighboring farms are picked, fields are chisel plowed, and harsh weather arrives…usually here in Minnesota, all by mid November. The result is a bunch of deer concentrated in to one area, and all the does do not get bred the first go-round in the traditional November rut. What is witnessed is a lull in the action around Thanksgiving for a week or two, then the bucks, neck outstretched, start the chasing again in early December. Obviously the chasing is good, but the finding an un-bred receptive doe is much more difficult.”

What Scott observes is different from where I hunt. I don't see much of a second rut, but he certainly does. He also had this to add about healthy buck to doe ratios. “ Consequently, one of the many downsides of a poor buck-to-doe ratio is this secondary, and even possibly a third sequence again in January. The bucks should be recovering body weight and energy to make it through the tough winter months, instead they are expending more energy to chase and breed in December and January. Add in the element of predators, late season snow storms, and the like- and we soon realize why it is that some of our big mature bucks are found to have died during the winter.” Once again, it's become cliché, but harvesting does and maintaining a healthy herd balance is important for everyone involved.


My late season archery doe. This new Northern Extreme gear is perfect for when the temperatures head south. My late season archery doe. This new Northern Extreme gear is perfect for when the temperatures head south.



“Grandpa has taught me a lot about hunting.” I has asked Wyatt to share about how he entered the stand. “Whenever we walk to a stand we make sure we don't walk too fast or make noise. The crunchy snow doesn't help- but we take our time and usually see deer within a half hour.”

The last factor to consider is how to get into and out of the blind or stand. Deer don’t care, nor can they differentiate between a hunter in the afternoon or after dark. The have no knowledge of legal shooting hours. To a deer- human presence is always a bad thing. So... it's really important to be sure to sneak in and out undetected. Many people trim several trails to and from stands for every occasion. Also, if a hunter's access to a stand HAS to cross a potential deer trail, be sure to saturate boots with a high quality scent eliminating spray like our Trinity Blast or Ti4.

Scent Control

Recently at a family holiday gathering one of my cousins said, “Man... my scent control has gone down the toilet. This time of year I'm just throwing my clothes in the truck...” Guess what! He's also not seeing deer.

After being harassed all fall, desperate for calories and rest- the deer don't have a lot of patience for human odor. Also consider that this time of year most of the leaves are off, the grasses are blown down, and wind carries scent for miles! If anything--the late season is the most important time to practice solid scent control. I still use all of my old tricks--washing my clothes, spraying everything liberally with Trinity Blast, and proper storage. It is no fun standing in single digit temperatures in the field, wearing nothing but my baselayers, trying to get dressed with my sent free clothes- but it's worth it! Right now I'm hunting in the ScentBlocker Northern Extreme--our new late season reversible gear. This stuff is perfect for cold, snowy hunts. With a soft camouflage on one side, and windproof snow camo on the other side, it is literally the last bib/jacket combination I'll ever need to own. Look for Northern Extreme to be on sale in stores or on our website by the 2015 hunting season.

Wyatt shared with me his the gear he was wearing during his recent hunt. “I was wearing ScentBlocker Baselayers, and the Protec jacket and pants. I also had on ScentBlocker gloves and an SB hat. I spray down everything with Trinity Blast. And oh yeah- I also shower with the soap and shampoo, and use the skin conditioner.”

Closing Thoughts

To us- the late season is like the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. We've all hunted our hearts out this fall- but it's not over yet. Find some food and the deer won't be far off. The trick is to not alert them so they'll continue to feed during shooting hours. Stay focused, continue to pay attention to the details, and don't give up until the sun sets on the closing day of the season- or in Wyatt's case, until you're tagged out! As always- get out and enjoy God's creation. Have fun, be safe and shoot straight. And... send us pictures of your late season buck!

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