The late rut offers hunters one final chance at bucks pursuing does. Younger does or does that were not bred can come into estrus around mid December. This rutting period will occur more in areas where the deer herd is unbalanced. Often an unbalanced herd has fewer bucks then does. This typically leads to does that do not get bred during the main rut. The late rut is another opportunity for these does to be bred. The oldest female fawns may also come into estrus during the late rut. The late rut is often just brief as the early-rut is. Attempting to hunt this period may be difficult to identify when the late rut takes place. If the hunter is able to witness rutting activity it is a sign that the late rut has begun. Hunt doe bedding areas and major doe trails to key in on bucks pursuing does. Funnels are also a great option during this brief period.
Using doe estrus scents during this short rutting period may be one of the best tactics to tag a late rut buck. There are other tactics that may work during this period, but keep in mind that deer in areas with moderate pressure have seen alot of tactics from hunters at this point.
The best approach is to focus in on key feeding areas, and bedding areas. Setting up in between these areas during the late season is the best option. If late rut activity shows up then it may be wise to key in more on does and less on the routes directly to and from feeding areas. Since the late rut will be minor it isn’t necessary to focus much energy on this period. It is also important to know where the deer seek cover after they’ve been hunted for over two months by this time. As deer encounter bow and gun hunters throughout the season their patterns often change. Knowing the safe havens can be the difference between seeing deer and seeing nothing at all.