Maintaining tabs on the very best deer meals is essential all through the autumn, however within the late season, it’s just about the whole ball sport. Through the rut, grabbing a chunk to eat was an afterthought for bucks, however proper now and within the weeks to return, selecting a main meals supply is vital to their survival. Certain there’s some secondary breeding occurring, and bucks are nonetheless banging antlers and posturing to show who’s boss. However that is all occurring at, or round, the very best deer feed within the space, whether or not that’s big-woods browse or mast, ag fields, or the very best late-season meals plots.

This makes late-season whitetail looking comparatively easy. Not simple, essentially, however easy. As winter settles in, even mature bucks go on a feeding binge like no different time of 12 months. So success within the late season is really as simple as this: Discover the very best deer meals and also you’ll discover the deer. It’s so essential now that it’s greater than price your whereas to surrender a day or two of looking to pinpoint precisely the place deer are feeding. With that in thoughts, listed here are the 9 whitetail meals which can be probably to place you onto a fantastic late-season buck (in no specific order).

Associated: The Finest Meals Plots for Deer

Desk of Contents

  • Acorns
  • Apples
  • Newly Seeded Alfalfa
  • Soybeans
  • Brassicas
  • Corn
  • Woody Browse
  • Shrub/Brushy Browse
  • Sumac
  • Methods to Scout the Finest Late-Season Deer Meals
  • Methods to Hunt the Finest Late-Season Meals Sources
  • Often Requested Questions

Finest Late-Season Deer Meals: Arduous and Tender Mast

1. Acorns

In most areas, there are nonetheless loads of pink oak acorns on the bottom for deer to feed on. through Deposit Images

If I needed to nominate a most-overlooked winter deer meals it might be the acorn. They’ve been dropping because the starting of fall, inflicting many hunters to suppose the present is over. However except you hunt the place oaks are uncommon, or the crop was significantly poor, there are nonetheless loads of nuts round. Don’t anticipate finding many white-oak acorns now, although. As an alternative, focus on pink oaks, which continuously throw an even bigger crop that may final by way of winter and into the next spring.

Spend a pair noon hours on the lookout for stands of tall, mature pink oaks, particularly on ridge tops. Oaks are simple to identify this time of 12 months, as their brown leaves are sometimes the one foliage nonetheless clinging to the in any other case naked timber. Figuring out which oak flats or particular person timber deer are hitting hardest is normally a chunk of cake this time of 12 months, too, as you’ll spot a lot of apparent feeding signal, with leaves churned up and pawed at. Mainly, in case you’re not saying, “Wow, deer are hammering this spot!” you need to most likely transfer on. You may even see a rub or two close by, as nicely, confirming {that a} buck or two are among the many deer visiting the world. If there’s snow, the mission is simplified additional, with the additional advantage of trails that point out how deer are approaching the acorn buffet.   

2. Apples

Leftover apples on the ground.
Leftover apples on the bottom. natalia_ch through Deposit Picture

Apples are one other mast crop most hunters affiliate with early fall, however they could be a large draw within the post-rut. I hunted a farm for a few years with a small orchard, and there have been half a dozen timber that held apples nicely into winter. The paths crushed to these late-bearing timber have been at all times spectacular. And don’t overlook crab apples. Whereas deer usually ignore these tart little treats in early fall, they are going to devour them throughout the late season.

Finest Late-Season Deer Meals: Ag Crops and Meals Plots

3. Newly Seeded Alfalfa

This was certainly one of my early-season picks, however I’m together with it right here too as a result of I’ve seen December deer ignore corn and soybeans to dig by way of a foot of snow and feed in a newly seeded alfalfa area. Alfalfa is extraordinarily excessive in protein, and a recent area should nonetheless keep its taste as a result of deer devour the stuff. I’ve gotten permission to hunt beforehand inaccessible farms as a result of I’ve requested to hunt winter deer digging up new alfalfa. Farmers are sometimes very happy to let me hunt crop-raiding deer, particularly if I’m prepared to take a doe or two.

4. Soybeans

A dry soybean stalk.
Soybeans are among the best late-season meals plot vegetation you’ll be able to develop. fotokostic through Deposit Picture

If I have been compelled to choose just one ag-species row-crop to plant in a meals plot, it might be soybeans. Along with being excessive in protein, soybeans develop comparatively low to the bottom and are evenly connected to the stalk. This makes it simple for deer to inhale a pile of them with little or no effort, and winter whitetails are all about effectivity relating to consuming. On the flip aspect, beans can get buried in deep snow; so when the flakes fall closely and there are simpler meals sources round, deer may ignore them.

Learn Subsequent: Methods to Plant the Good Half-Acre Meals Plot for Whitetail Deer

5. Brassicas

Brassica plants make great late season deer foods
Brassicas are a near-perfect late-season meals plot selection. Biologic

If ever there have been a meals plot seed completely designed for the winter, brassicas (the seed class that features rape, kale, turnips, and radishes) are the ticket. For starters, deer largely ignore the leaves in summer time and early fall, making them an ideal selection for a small plot in an space of excessive deer density. However after these leaves get hit with a frost or two, deer are throughout them. Brassicas additionally present extra sheer tonnage of meals per acre than virtually something. One warning: You’ll have to rotate your meals plots, as planting brassicas a number of years in a row will end in illness or decreased manufacturing. That stated, brassicas are proper within the working with soybeans and standing core for the very best late-season meals plot plant.

6. Corn

A late-season cornfield.
A standing late-season cornfield gives a lot of prime meals for deer. Allexxandar through Deposit Picture

Corn is an apparent meals supply for farm-country whitetails, however it’s removed from being a no brainer. Standing corn seems to be like a straightforward buffet, however in actuality, chewing corn from a cob is type of a chore for deer, and most often, they like the kernels on the bottom. This makes a picked (however not plowed) cornfield much more engaging to whitetails. Nonetheless, in a winter that options loads of standing corn, looking the standing crop will be productive. Search for areas the place it’s apparent that deer and knocking the stalks right down to get on the cobs. If there’s snow, give attention to the heaviest trails resulting in the meals. In my expertise, looking standing corn works greatest when temps actually plummet and deer don’t have a number of decisions. One other tip: Whitetails usually favor smaller plots situated near bedding cowl.

Learn Subsequent: 10 Early-Season Deer Meals Sources to Focus On

Finest Late-Season Deer Meals: Browse

7. Woody Browse

Woody browse is a extremely ignored meals supply within the food-plot period, and it’s really the stuff that whitetails advanced to eat to maintain them by way of the winter. It’s their go-to selection, generally even when better-looking, easier-to-access sources (like meals plots and farm crops) can be found. In the event you’ve bought poplar or maple saplings, younger white cedar, or Douglas fir rising in your space, ignore them at your peril now. Deer thrive on consuming these native species, which regularly develop near bedding zones, so whitetails will give attention to them after they’re feeling pressured, or if hotter winter temps don’t encourage them to go to different meals sources. Precisely the place deer are hitting winter browse isn’t sometimes apparent, however a recent snow can all of the sudden make it so. Wait a pair days after the flakes fall, after which do some noon speed-scouting to search out tracks and trails resulting in their favourite feeding spots within the woods.

8. Shrub/Brushy Browse

Japanese honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle bushes usually maintain edible inexperienced leaves nicely into winter. YAYImages through Deposit Picture

When most hunters suppose “browse,” they give attention to younger timber, however there are extra choices. Japanese honeysuckle, dewberry, dogwood, blackberry cane, and Oregon grape are all examples of regional species which can be extremely favored by deer—and most of them can final nicely into the winter. In my space, honeysuckle leaves not solely stay inexperienced throughout the late season, however the dense stands additionally present bedding and safety cowl for hungry whitetails.

Finest Late-Season Deer Meals: Native Winter Favorites

9. Sumac

Red sumac flowers are a favorite deer food in winter
Purple sumac flowers are a favourite of late-season deer. Jkirsch13 through Deposit Picture

Whitetails are consultants at deciding on meals that present simply the diet they want at a selected time, and a few of these meals sources are ignored for a lot of the 12 months. In northern states, sumac “candles”—the pink flower atop a woody sumac stem—are like deer sweet now. Even higher, they continuously develop on the brushy, south-facing slopes that whitetails favor for bedding, particularly throughout chilly snaps.

10. Honey Locust Pods

Honey locust seed pods strewn over the ground
Honey locust seed pods can develop into a sizzling meals supply when different grub turns into scarce. Julie / Adobe Inventory

Within the decrease Midwest, a lot of the South, and a part of the Northeast, honey locust pods, which deer usually step over as they journey to farm fields earlier within the season, all of the sudden develop into a most popular meals in winter. I’ve watched deer spend hours beneath honey locust timber within the late season, chewing away on the candy pods. However do not forget that sumac and honey locust are simply two such meals. Hold a watch out for quirky sources in your space, and also you may add yet another hotspot to your late-season deer lineup.

Methods to Scout for the Finest Late-Season Deer Meals

I dwell in ag nation, and nearly all my neighbors are farmers. I really like them as an entire, however I reserve a particular fondness for individuals who eschew fall plowing. Right here within the Midwest, some farmers dismiss those that don’t go away black grime within the wake of the harvest as lazy, however I view them as a conservation god-send, as a result of they aren’t burying waste grain that wildlife can feed on in winter. Harvested however unplowed cornfields are simple sufficient to identify and usually tend to maintain drawing late-season deer.

Hold a watch peeled for harvested soybean fields, that are sometimes untouched by plows. Additionally, extra farmers are vertical-tilling their cornfields, which doesn’t have close to the influence of the standard plowing/discing that leaves fields black and waste grain buried. Usually I can scout a possible area by merely glassing it from the consolation of a truck, however a fast tour of the sphere edge at noon will reveal whitetail exercise and the very best stand websites. 

Within the odd 12 months when climate prevents or delays the harvest, I spend time driving round on the lookout for any fields that bought a reprieve from the mix. It’s stunning how usually a farmer will grant permission to hunt a standing grain area in December that he’d deny entry to solely a month earlier than. 

Methods to Hunt the Finest Late-Season Deer Meals

In most methods, looking late-season grub is rather like looking meals sources every other time of 12 months. It’s essential work out how deer are approaching the feed, arrange downwind and inside capturing vary, and be sure to can get into and out of your stand or blind with out spooking the deer you’re looking. All of that’s robust sufficient regardless of the season, however there are just a few extra challenges now.

First, in case you discover a actually sizzling late-season meals supply, it’s most likely drawing a lot of deer, which suggests you’ll have that many extra eyes, ears, and noses to see, hear, and scent you. When organising, begin conservatively and be additional cautious about not looking iffy winds. Get into your spot early, be additional quiet about it, and do no matter it’s important to to not spook deer in your means out.

Second, the very best meals sources can change in a flash now, say, when a farmer lastly will get the circumstances wanted to chop a area or deep snow all of the sudden blankets ground-level grub. Scout often to search out the most well liked meals and once you do, hunt it instantly (so long as the wind is true) through the use of a climbing stand or doing a hang-and-hunt.

Third, climate is extra essential than ever now relating to buck motion. Pressured late-season deer, particularly large bucks, can be naturally reluctant to hit open meals sources like ag area and plots throughout daylight. However when the mercury plummets or the snow falls, they are going to throw warning to the wind as a way to fill their bellies. So maintain an in depth eye on the climate, and the more serious it seems to be, the extra it is advisable get on the market and be ready when that hungry bruiser steps out.

Learn Subsequent: Skilled Late-Season Deer Searching Techniques

Often Requested Questions

Is the late season a very good time to bait deer?

Sure, it’s among the best occasions, assuming baiting is authorized in your state. Late-season deer are recovering from the rut and getting ready for the worst of winter. They’re laser-focused on feeding now, and a simple meals supply, like a giant pile of corn or apples, will certainly get their consideration. Consider, although, that mature whitetails, which will be leery of bait websites in the very best of occasions, are particularly cautious within the late season. Your setup will must be nicely thought out, and also you’ll should be very cautious about not visiting or looking the positioning too usually.

What’s the greatest late-season meals plot for deer?

One of the best late-season meals plot is the one which doesn’t get devoured earlier than the late season comes. Soybeans and brassicas are high decisions, however in case you actually need both to be a late-season draw particularly, it’s a fantastic concept to fence off all of a few of a plot or two to maintain deer out—or principally out—till after the rut. I do know a number of hardcore supervisor/hunters who do that to nice impact.

What’s the simplest option to discover the very best deer meals in winter?

There are two simple methods to search out the very best deer meals now. The primary is from the consolation of your heated truck with a very good binocular. When temperatures plummet, deer are inclined to hit the very best meals plots and ag fields nicely earlier than darkish. So take a day or two off from looking, drive round, and glass these meals sources to search out out which of them the deer are actually hammering.

The opposite is means is to attend a few days after a recent blanket of snow—time sufficient for the deer to make loads of tracks—after which set off on noon scouting session to stroll the wooden and area edges, following tracks and trails to search out out precisely the place deer are feeding now. Then arrange accordingly.

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