Greens and Grains and More…All About Food For Late Season Whitetail Deer

Greens and Grains and More…

by Eric Hall

Whitetail hunters wait all year long in the midwest for the last two weeks of October and into “Sweet November”.  It seems as though we just started the rut in Ohio and now we are weeks away from Christmas.  The seasons change, the deer change and so must our tactics to harvest whitetails.

This time of year is all about food!  A whitetail buck is run down from the weeks of rutting activity and dodging the “Orange Army” during the firearms seasons.  The whitetails know that the winter is coming and know they need to re-charge the batteries.  That means greens and grains…IE FOOD!!

Greens

Green food sources are excellent places to locate whitetail deer after the rut.  The plants hold a good moisture content along with crude protein.  Turnips and brassica’s get better as the frost/snow hits.  Bucks will target these food plots in search of the greens.  Late season winter wheat is also attractive to deer who prefer this cover crop in the early stages of its growth cycle.

Don’t have a food plot or brassicas?  Look for green clover in hay fields or any leaves still on some underbrush.  I have found over the years that small patches of green in fields are an excellent draw for whitetails just after the rut and into late season.  Any remaining green leaves still on browse plants will attract deer.

Grains

Corn and soybeans provide an excellent late season food source.  A recently picked cornfield or soybean field is an excellent place to intercept deer into the month of December.  The key here is getting to the field within a day of the crop harvest.  Modern combines do not leave much waste on the ground and the whitetail deer herd will wipe out what is left over in a matter of days.   Set up between bedding and the field as soon as possible to take advantage of this rapidly depleting food source.
The weather has been wet this year and in some areas, the farmers have still not been able to harvest the crops.  If you are lucky enough (unless you are the farmer) to have standing corn or beans in December than you are sitting on top of a gold mine.  Hunt those standing crops, you can be assured that deer will be visiting these fields to load up on carbohydrates as the mercury drops.

 Other Food

Hard mast in the form of acorns and hickory nuts are important this time of year.  Most, if not all, of these will be consumed early in the season by the deer and the local squirrel population.  However, if you can find a pocket of hard mast into December, the deer will know it is there as well.  Palatable food sources will be consumed first before moving on to the less desirable edible plants.
While not as easy to locate as a well-placed food plot or cornfield, woody browse is a key food source for deer in the late season.  Woody browse is very low in nutritional value but as resources become scarce, whitetails adapt and eat whatever is available.  Look for browsing sign as you scout along field edges, wood lines, fence rows etc.  Anywhere the canopy allows the plants to grow five feet and under are great locations for woody browse sites.  Look for tips of small bushes and trees that are nipped off to get an idea about what the deer are feeding on and where they are feeding.
The late season can be a challenge in many ways if you do not switch your tactics.  In many ways, the deer become patternable again.  It is bed to food and food to bed.  Whitetail deer are slaves to their stomachs.  Late season hunting over a good food source is your best bet to fill a tag before the curtain falls on this whitetail season.
Good Luck Everyone!

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Author: Eric Hall

Afflicted with Whitetail OCD, I have been addicted to the Whitetail Deer since the late 1980s. It is an all-consuming and never-ending passion to learn about and ultimately preserve the heritage of whitetail deer hunting. Now I feed that addiction with the Whitetail OCD blog.

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