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PA Late Season Deer Hunting: How to capitalize when the weather turns nasty

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With the number of total PA hunting licenses sold this year falling to about 600,000, it’s no secret that fewer hunters are taking to the wood. On the surface, this looks bad and from an economic standpoint it is. Mainly because with fewer licenses sold the amount of funds the Game Commission has to survey and protect the wildlife is reduced. But, the news isn’t all bad. Despite the declining trend of hunters in the state, the number of bucks (and the ratio of antlered to antlerless deer) has never better. Anyone that has been diligent about setting and monitoring their trail cameras over the past few seasons can attest to this. Furthermore, the number of mature, legal and trophy bucks inhabiting the woods right now are equally high.
With the late season archery/muzzleloader season now upon us. The number of quality bucks still running around the woods of Pennsylvania gives hope to the dedicated hunter. While the thought of sitting in the frigid temperatures of early January can be enough to make even the heartiest of outdoorsmen to think twice, it’s well worth it for anyone still looking to fill their freezer with venison for the New Year.
Cold temperatures force deer to feed every couple of hours to keep their core temperatures up. Focus on areas with late season food supplies and you’ll find the deer. Corn, acorns, clover (and just about any other green browse still available) will all attract deer. Furthermore, the deer will be clustered in much larger groups than they were in the early season or during the rut so finding one usually means finding a dozen.
Use fresh snow to your advantage. Look for tracks following an overnight snowfall. As a general rule the largest animals will leave dew claw marks a couple inches behind the large hoof prints as they move along well-worn trails that have been covered over by fresh snow. Whitetail deer must conserve as much energy as possible this time of year so the distances they are likely to travel is at a minimum. With a bit of scouting, a portable propane heater, and a bit of diligence, you can swing the odds in your favor and still make this season a success.

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