By Bob Humphrey
Many states offer late season muzzloading opportunities for deer. Whether you failed to fill your tag during the regular season, or are looking to bolster your winter food stores, there’s still time and plenty of opportunity available.
With little exception, the rut is over by now and deer, both bucks and does are motivated primarily by hunger. Bucks are trying desperately to replenish valuable energy reserves depleted by the rut. Does, meanwhile, must nourish themselves and the new life growing within them. Their daily routine consists primarily of feeding and moving between bedding and feeding areas.
Take advantage of this by targeting concentrations of high-calorie foods. This is easier in agricultural areas where deer will gravitate toward waste grain or remnant standing crops like corn and soybeans. Late-season food plots are another good bet. In forested areas, hunters should seek out hard mast like acorns and beech nuts.
It’s cold out there so dress warmly. The more comfortable you are the longer you’ll stay in the woods. Dress in layers including a moisture-wicking, anti-microbial base layer, a fleece or wool insulating mid layer and a wind and weather-proof insulated outer layer. Wear a warm hat, insulated gloves and boots and bring along plenty of hand and foot warmers. A padded seat cushion will also shield your posterior from cold seats.
Care of Equipment
These cold conditions can be as hard on your equipment as your body. At the end of the day, going from cold to warm can create condensation on and in your muzzleloader. If possible, try to keep your gun in a cold place, like a vehicle, locked shed or garage. If you do take it inside, put it in a padded case first, and leave it in the case so it warms up slowly.
If you’re traveling to and from the field via ATV, make sure the battery is charged up and in good serviceable condition. Check that all moving parts are properly lubricated and remove snow and ice build-up from wheels and undercarriage.