Why Late Hunting Season is Best Hunting Season
Kevin Felts 10.31.18
All across the nation states are opening their hunting seasons. Some start earlier, while others start later. One thing is for sure: as opening weekend approaches, hunters go into a frenzy. They get the stands and feeders ready, plant and fertilizer the food plots, and check the trail cameras.
A good number of hunters will harvest something opening weekend, while others will go home empty handed.
What if I told the reader to forget opening weekend? In fact, depending on the length of your states hunting season, let’s skip the whole first month,
Here in Southeast Texas, rifle season opens the first weekend of November and closes the first Sunday in January. Then, we have a primitive firearms season (muzzleloader) for a week or so in the middle of January. Dates and length of primitive firearms season changes from year to year.
So why skip the first few weeks, or even the first month of hunting season?
As hunting season draws near, hunters will be in the woods setting up stands, planting food plots, filling feeders, clearing ATV trails, clearing shooting lanes… etc. Opening weekend sees rural county dirt roads turned into temporary highways.
What does all that mean? Deer go from a peaceful forest, to all kinds of new sights, sounds, and smells in a short period of time.
The two most popular weekends for hunting are opening weekend, and the weekend after Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving weekend. a lot of people shift gears from hunting, to planning for Christmas. Rather than going to the hunting lease, people may go to the mall.
With a shift in gears from hunting to shopping, this means less people in the woods, which results in less hunting pressure. Fewer ATVs, hunters, vehicles… etc will be in the woods. In other words, things start to settle down and return to normal.
After Thanksgiving weekend the weather may turn colder and wetter, which results in even fewer people going into the woods. Let’s be honest, how many of us want to sit in a deer stand freezing, with drizzling rain? The whole time we are sitting in the stand we think about dragging the deer out in the cold rain.
However, there are people who pay no attention to the weather. Those hunters should benefit by hunting when few others would even consider venturing out.
Several years ago a buddy of mine and I spent three days camping on the Angelina River; which was from late November to early December. During those three days we only saw two or three boats pass our camp site. Those two or three boats in three days are in stark contrast to opening weekend when every camp site is booked, and there may be a dozen boats on the river.
In general, as the weather turns colder and wetter, fewer people go hunting, which reduces hunting pressure.
Last Few Weeks of Hunting Season
A week or two after Thanksgiving typically sees a drastic reduction in hunting pressure. Most of the does have been bred, which means the bucks will be chasing the few remaining does, who go into estrous.
People have Christmas on their mind. A great number will be visiting extended family on the weekends leading up to Christmas.
In other words, hunters who are willing to bear the elements, and forgo early Christmas celebrations with extended family members may enjoy some of the best hunting of the season. Hunting pressure has drastically reduced from opening weekend, and fewer people are in the woods. Things have started to settle down and return to normal.
However, this gives the hunter only a few weeks to harvest a deer. Maybe forgoing the first half of hunting season is not for everyone. If someone has limited time off work, limiting themselves to just a few weeks may not be a good idea.
Then again, there are people who have vacation time they can take, or their job may give them several days off in a row.
Whatever the schedule allows, go hunting and have a good time.