It’s sad, but true — bow season is almost over. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you still have a tag burning a hole in your pocket, it’s time to go for broke. The following clutch hunting tactics will tip the odds in your favor before the season ends.
Not all hunting spots are created equal, so be sure you’re spending the final hunts of the season in proven locations. Cover as much ground as you can to find pockets that hold deer, whether by bicycle, truck, boat or any other legal means necessary. It might sound counterintuitive to spend precious time scouting when you could be hunting, but the intel you’ll gain is valuable. Rather than hunting an area blindly without scouting intel, spend a few mornings and evenings covering ground. Quality beats quantity when it comes to late-season hunts, so do your due diligence to find the spot within the spot.
Don’t waste your time tiptoeing around the edge of a bedding area. Instead, wait for ideal conditions and make an aggressive move to fill your tag. Windy days with rain or snow offer plenty of cover noise to enter these areas undetected, so keep an eye on the weather and strike when the time is right. If you’re able, glass the bedding area from afar or monitor it with trail cameras to understand how deer use it. Then, when the time is right, hunt it.
Coined by the Hunting Beast himself, Dan Infalt, the “bump and dump” is an aggressive and lethal tactic for mobile deer hunters. Start by slowly still-hunting your way through bedding cover until you eventually bump a deer from its bed. The goal is to lightly spook the deer from its bedroom, so don’t walk through the area too haphazardly. While this might sound like taboo, the spooked deer reveals critical information about its core area, and it will likely, eventually, return. Some deer return within a few hours, and others might come back the next time weather and wind conditions are conducive for the bed (deer generally bed where they have both a wind and sight advantage). Regardless, mark the area on your mapping app and plan to intercept the deer’s travel route when it makes the fatal mistake of returning.
No matter the time of year or phase of the rut, the right calling sequence can be all it takes to coax a deer into bow range. Secondary rut activity typically picks up about 30 days after the rut’s peak in most areas, so consider deploying more aggressive calling like rattling or tending grunts during that time. As you move later into the season, consider switching your tactics to soft contact grunts in thick cover where you expect deer to be hanging out. Deer are social animals, and sometimes they can’t resist investigating realistic sounds they think are from other deer.
Don’t overlook the power of a deer drive or wind bump. When they execute the tactic correctly, bowhunters can push deer through escape routes that standers are patiently watching. Instead of banging pots and pans as you walk through the woods, quietly move through bedding cover so your wind drifts through it. The deer downwind of a pusher’s location will vacate the area cautiously and slowly, not at Mach speed as you’d see on typical drives where the pushers hoot and holler as they make their move. As a result, wind bumps typically produce better shot opportunities for bowhunters.
Don’t hang your head if you’re among the many bowhunters (myself included) heading into the final stretch of the season with an unfilled tag. Instead, embrace the opportunity and push the limits of your comfort zone with aggressive tactics.