Bruce Ryan Has Tips for Bowhunting in Snow

Just because the firearm seasons are over, and Bucks may be warier is no reason to pass on what may be some of the best hunting of the year. Sure, the tactics you used earlier this year may no longer be as productive. Still, by changing your strategies to take advantage of changing Whitetail movements, you may turn those unfilled tags into wall mounts and/or venison for the freezer.
So, let’s discuss some new tactics that will make it worthwhile to leave that warm couch and pursue our passion!
Earlier Season may have been all about hunting from the several treestands you had strategically placed throughout your hunting areas, the late season may dictate a change in this method of bowhunting. Trees are bare now and no longer hide your silhouette, and add the fact that wary deer now tend to look up more often, these same productive stands give way to better options. I like to utilize hub type blinds during the late season for several reasons. No need to worry about icy tree steps or ladders, and they serve to get us out of cold north winds that can shorten our stay on stand. A blind in the right place with a comfortable blind chair can be pretty cozy and deadly productive.

Late season strategies: Buck are out feeding in the snow.

During severe cold weather, Whitetails tend to be more active during the warmer temperatures of midday and spend more time feeding during this warmer time of day. They are more likely to spend the much colder morning and late evening hours conserving calories by bedding and being less active. The photo above shows a young buck searching for snow buried acorns during a midday foray. I like to set up closer to feeding areas this time of year, as the deer are focused on food sources in order to survive winter challenges. This is true also of rut weary bucks that need to replenish lose weight for the cold months ahead.

Take advantage of natural cover in a fallen tree blind.

In the big woods where I love to hunt, I like to search oak flats and any fresh deer sign showing feeding trends. Heavy trails in the snow and dug up snow is evidence of feeding activity and turn into prime locations to set up. A felled tree or natural brush along one of these trails can be a productive blind for unsuspecting deer focused on traveling to chosen food sources.

The advantages of a tracking snow: Deer tracks and blood

In a successful late season hunt this past year, I was very thankful for a covering of fresh snow that aided in tracking a nice late season mature buck. My shot taken from a blowdown blind hit a little farther back in his body than preferred. The pass-through arrow had bright red blood covering it but no bubbles or froth evident of lungs. I immediately thought maybe a liver hit and decided to give it some time.
I was hunting an oak flat leading down to a wide creek, bordered  with mountain laurel on both sides.
As evidenced by the above photo, I had sparse blood, but easily followed tracks in the fresh snow. After an hour of impatient waiting I decided to take up the trail and started off following his easy to see trail. After a short distance the trail led into the laurel and towards the creek and following along I could see where he entered the creek and apparently crossed to the other side. The problem came when I crossed the creek and could not find where his tracks left the water. I started searching along the bank and finally found his tracks coming out downstream from his entry point.
Following his tracks from there I was rewarded with a recovery of my buck, a little wet but thankful for the tracking snow making a successful end to a magical late season harvest!    

Bruce Ryan
new e-mail  bruce.ryan24@gmail.com
Ryan Outdoors
677 S. Skyview Drive
Elkins, WV 26241
cell  304-642-4550

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