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6 Ways to Late-Season Hunting Success with HuntStand Pro Whitetail


Time is running out. If you want to notch your buck tag or find does for the freezer, it's time to lean on the power of HuntStand Pro Whitetail.

by Darron McDougal

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Just like that, another November is history. It seems to blow by faster every year. And now, the 11-month wait for next November begins. But wait; do you have an archery or muzzleloader tag still in your pocket? If so, late-season hunting is your shot at redemption. Some of the season’s finest bucks are taken when the conditions align just right during the season’s waning moments. But, persistence is the key.

Late-season hunting can be tough. Very tough, in fact. Withstanding hours in the cold alone can be painful. And hunting with archery equipment when dressed to the nines is challenging to say the least. And while persistences is crucial to defy the odds, why not give yourself an edge with HuntStand Pro Whitetail?

Though they don’t guarantee a tag punch, there are six HuntStand Pro Whitetail features that will put you that much closer to the golden opportunity you’ve waited all season for. Here’s how they can help.

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Utilizing HuntStand Pro Whitetail’s exclusive features can help you peg key hunting locations around late-season food sources.

Crop History and Monthly Satellite Imagery

It’s a given that food is king as winter and cold weather set in. Deer are smoked from a month of rutting activity, especially bucks. The kicker is that crops are mostly harvested, and hard-mast crops diminished. This means you’ll have to identify the needles in the haystack: food sources that are still supplying groceries to deer.

Upgrade to Pro Whitetail & Get The Drop on Late-Season Deer

If you live near where you hunt or even planted the food source(s) yourself, then you get the luxury of knowing what’s left. In contrast, if you’re a distance from your hunting grounds, then it’s a big advantage to learn as much as you can before you go to hunt. How is that possible? Read on.

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Hunting on public land that isn’t cultivated with food plots? The Crop History layer can show what was planted on the adjacent private lands the previous year. This can help you to predict deer movement on the public, as local deer move toward adjacent food sources.

HuntStand Pro Whitetail has two features that collectively can help you make some calculated assumptions in this regard. The Crop History layer not only shades agriculture (color-coded for easy identification), but when you click on a food source, a window opens telling you what was planted last year. So, over a few years, you’ll have to watch and learn crop rotations. Do that, and then when you reference the Crop History layer to see what was planted the year prior, you’ll have an idea as to the current crop.

Identify Hot Food Sources

Even more valuable is the Monthly Satellite Imagery layer. Of course, the Hybrid layer offers high-resolution satellite mapping, but the view is typically outdated. The aptly-named Monthly Satellite Imagery layer, while lower in resolution, is updated monthly. That helps you zoom in close enough to identify cornfields and other row crops fairly easily. In some instances, you can even determine if the crop was harvested or left standing based on its appearance. That can be huge.

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Not quite sure when to hunt your late-season hotspot? Utilize the Whitetail Activity Forecast to identify peak movement times up to a week in advance. The author used it during his recent Illinois hunt and found it to be on point.

As a side note, you can use both the Crop History and Monthly Satellite Imagery features to see agriculture on adjacent lands, too. This can have a bearing on the deer movement on your property, or the public land that you’re hunting.

In the big woods, watch for brand-new clearcuts on the Monthly Satellite Imagery layer. Be prepared that the app doesn’t highlight these areas. However, you might suspect logging operations are happening on public lands, or a piece of private land that you have permission to hunt. In these cases, simply look for missing swatches of timber. Deer love to browse on tops, so a brand-new clearcut is a great place to try some late-season hunting in areas void of agriculture.

Whitetail Activity Forecast

 Timing your hunts is a critical piece to late-season hunting. By this point in the season, deer have felt hunting pressure—moderate to significant—and are typically edgier than earlier in the season. Hunting as often as you can isn’t always conducive to success, unless you have lots of stand options. In other words, hitting the same stand every afternoon introduces more human presence, and your odds typically dive with each unsuccessful mission.

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Ready to take hunt planning to the next level? Open up the Whitetail Activity Forecast layer and see when movement is likely to peak. Proprietary algorithms create the 7-day forecast, and users are already raving about its accuracy.

If you have only a few stands or blinds to hunt from, keep them fresh by hunting only during optimal conditions. Not sure exactly what that means? No sweat! The ground-breaking Whitetail Forecast layer in Pro Whitetail puts peak movement times at your fingertips. A 7-day percentage-based graph details days and times that will likely produce the best deer movement. I just used the layer during the first few days of December, during an Illinois hunt. When movement percentages in the layer were low, I saw minimal deer movement. When it was high, deer moved. Pretty fascinating.

Of course, not all stand locations are equal, so temper your expectations just a bit. In addition, the Whitetail Forecast includes other important details such as temperatures, wind, pressure, cloud cover, humidity and precipitation—no need to alternate back and forth between screens.

Nationwide Rut Map

The new Nationwide Rut Map layer, believe it or not, can be an important part in planning your late-season hunt. But, wait, the rut’s over, isn’t it? Not exactly. I’ve witnessed plenty of rutting behavior in the Midwest during December. Bucks fighting. Does bellowing out estrous bleats. I’ve also watched bucks follow, smell and nudge does. My brother once killed one of three bucks that all were chasing the same doe in the middle of December.

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Is the second rut a real thing? Research and science, along with observations from whitetail experts, say it is, and the HuntStand Pro Whitetail Nationwide Rut Map notes dates for your specific area.

I know that the second rut is controversial, but I’ve seen enough of it in 22 years of hunting to know that it’s a valid piece of the late-season puzzle. HuntStand Pro Whitetail’s Nationwide Rut Map provides rut and second-rut timing for every location. It’s all based on research by whitetail biologist Brian Murphy, in collaboration with deer biologists from every state whitetails are hunted. More ground-breaking stuff.

Field-Tested Accuracy

Even though this layer is brand new, I’ve already found it accurate. In McDonough County, Illinois, where I hunted in early December, the Nationwide Rut Map said that my December 1-4 hunt would coincide with the pre second rut. I observed exactly that type of behavior. Two different 2 1/2-year-old bucks were seen following single does through the timber. I saw scrapes being worked again. I observed young bucks fighting. The second rut doesn’t hit with the tenacity of the first, but the activity I observed was consistent with the Nationwide Rut Map. Don’t overlook it.

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Referencing the Nationwide Rut Map will show you the rut dates—including second-rut dates—for your county. This can help you understand when bucks are likely to be interested in a doe-littered food source.

How is knowing second-rut dates helpful? Well, it can tell you when to focus on food sources littered with does, if you’re still shopping for a buck. In the Nationwide Rut Map layer, zoom in on your property and simply tap on the shaded overlay. Instantly, a pull-up window that details dates for the primary and second rut will appear. Then, you’ll know when to set up where does are feeding, at a time when bucks are most likely to be interested in them. Again, this is all based on research and science, and applied to every county.

Whitetail Habitat Map and Tree Cover

Habitat is probably more important in late season than at any other time. Habitat often diminishes by late season as foliage decreases (areas with four seasons) and winter manifests. Identifying prime habitat makes a good starting point for a late-season hunt.

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When you’re looking to hunt a new area, habitat is a key element to learning the property. The Whitetail Habitat Map, a new HuntStand Pro Whitetail exclusive, helps you key-in on great habitat with convenient color-coded overlays. It can even help you "rediscover" overlooked parts of your own hunting property.

If you have history with a particular property, the new HuntStand Whitetail Habitat layer will help only minimally, because you’ve been hunting the property. However, for large properties, you might see the benefit in checking out areas shaded in red—red notes optimal whitetail habitat in the layer. Maybe these are areas that you’ve previously ignored while scouting and hunting.

Zero-in on Great Habitat

If you’re a DIY hunter bouncing around and trying to optimize your chances of getting into late-season deer, this layer can really help. And especially, on properties that you haven’t hunted. The Whitetail Habitat Map, which updates monthly at a granular level, is worth paying attention to if you have little time to scout and hunt, but want a strong starting point.

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The HuntStand Pro Whitetail Tree Cover feature is useful in determining where there’s timber. This feature is an ideal way to find good whitetail habitat including edges and transitions.

The Tree Cover layer is another one that’s perfect for e-scouting in a late-season pinch. It distinguishes between trees and other cover, to produce a map layer detailing suitable habitat. It’s related to the Whitetail Habitat Map in ways, so alternating between the two is wise business.

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Tyler Rector bow-bagged this Illinois stud over a cornfield. Food is a key to late-season success, but so is planning your hunt based on conditions. HuntStand Pro Whitetail has all the features you need to get an edge on wise late-season bucks. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Rector/bowhunting.com)

Go Down Swinging!

If you haven’t upgraded to HuntStand Pro Whitetail, now’s the time to do it. Late season doesn’t get the glamor of early season or the rut, but it’s your last chance to end the season with a bang—or a satisfying thump. These six helpful HuntStand Pro Whitetail features might just be what it takes to put together a successful late-season hunt.

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