Mid December

Mid-December

Hard to believe we’re nearing the middle of December already, but here we are! So far here in northern Wisconsin we haven’t seen much in the way of typical winter weather. While temps have been somewhat winter-like, our snow cover is far from normal. We’ve spent a bit of time in the woods recently doing some scouting and checking trail cameras. If I had to guess  I’d say that, at the most, there’s only about 3-inches of snow on the ground.

Our light snow cover makes it easy to get around, but more snow would make for better hunting conditions.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of weather that produces favorable late season hunting conditions. To begin with, the light snow cover means deer are able to get around without much effort. It also means a variety of food items that normally are buried under the snow are still easily available to the deer. So rather than being concentrated around a few remaining food sources, like standing and/or freshly picked cornfields, our deer herd remains scattered.

Once some real winter weather sets in standing and/or freshly picked cornfields can become whitetail feeding hotspots.

Because we have such a light snow cover, the deer on our hunting property have been able to concentrate their feeding efforts around acorn bearing oak trees. But trying to figure out exactly which oaks are going to play host to some deer feeding activity on any particular day has been nothing short of a lesson in frustration.

Jake and I have several RECONYX cameras set up on our property to monitor activity around oaks where deer have been pawing through the snow for acorns. If we’ve learned one thing from these cameras it’s that the deer are seldom, if ever, visiting the same oaks on consecutive days. What’s more, the times of these visits are extremely inconsistent. We’ll get a flurry of photos at a spot one day, but then nothing for the next several days. Sure does make it tough to figure out exactly where and when a guy should put in some time on a stand. Which is exactly why it’s called hunting!

We had photos of this young buck pawing for acorns under these oaks just one time. No other photos of him before or after that.

From a positive standpoint though, we have yet to see any signs to indicate that wolves and/or bobcats have been visiting our property. But for that matter, I have yet to find a single coyote track on our land this winter. It seems those sneaky little predators always disappear for a period of time after our gun season has closed. It’s my guess that they’re busy feeding on gut piles and unrecovered deer right now and aren’t traveling much. But they’ll be back around eventually.

So far we haven’t seen any sign of wolves or bobcats. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t around.

As I’m writing this a local weatherman just reported that our temperatures are supposed to be well above normal for the next seven days, with daytime highs projected to be in the mid to upper 30’s. Of course, this means that whatever precipitation we do get will most likely be in the form of rain, not snow. It also means that we can’t expect the deer to become any easier to pattern than they have been.

A look at the future forecast for the area in Iowa where I’ll be muzzle loader hunting doesn’t look much better for the upcoming week. Fortunately, I don’t have to be in any hurry to get down there. My tag is good until the end of muzzle loader season, so I definitely have time to wait for a more favorable weather forecast. Also, I’m entertaining the idea of possible heading to eastern South Dakota for a late season bowhunt. Just waiting to see if the weather out there is going to get a bit more nasty in upcoming days.

Some nasty winter weather would definitely spur big bucks into more predictable feeding patterns. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like that in the forecast.

And finally, though I don’t usually get out ice fishing until later in the winter, I’m seriously entertaining thoughts of hitting a couple area lakes in the very near future. Far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing quite like a meal of deep fried fillets from freshly caught, cold water panfish. Just have to put my ear to the ground, so to speak, and find out what lakes I need to fish and when I need to be there. Can you sense that your phones might be ringing soon Jeff Evans/Brody Moreland?

I don’t normally get out on the ice this early in the winter, but the current hunting conditions might force me to do just that!

More later….