15 Worst Places to Hunt During the Post-Rut

By Josh HoneycuttDecember 13, 20231 Comment

Deer move from place to place throughout their home range. Sure, they exhibit patterns and tendencies, and even repeat movements in, around, and through key areas. But they use different parts of their home ranges throughout the year. Thus, there are good late season spots, and poor ones. Here are some of the worst places to hunt during the post-rut.

15 Worst Places To Hunt During The Post Rut
  1. Your Favorite Rut Stands

Just because it was great during the rut doesn’t mean it will be after it. Your favorite rut stands that produced when rutting action peaked aren’t a guarantee for the colder days of deer season. In many cases, awesome rut spots are terrible late season stand locations.

  1. Pressured Areas

Areas that have been pressured heavily throughout deer season are questionable for the late season. Even if these offer good late season bedding and food sources, ensure deer are still spending time there (and during daylight) before investing too many hunts.

  1. Hard-Hit Areas

Spots that already had a bunch of deer tagged might not have much left to pick from. If you know that a lot of deer were already taken from the vicinity, it might be best to move on and hunt another location.

15 Worst Places To Hunt During The Post Rut
  1. White Oak Stands

Deer love white oak acorns. But these are long gone by the time the late season arrives. Unless you see the ground littered with these, and they aren’t already rotten, don’t spend too much late-season time hunting under the white oaks. Rarely do they last this long anyway.

  1. Failed Mast Crop Trees

If a tree (or group or trees) didn’t produce mast, why hunt near them? Unless the area offers a lot of browse, deer aren’t going to be feeding there.

  1. Depleted Food Sources

Most food sources will be depleted by season’s end. So, ensure there is still plenty of grub still on the ground for each targeted food source.

  1. Unseasonable Food Sources

As mentioned before, deer are seasonable critters. They focus on the best of the best at the given time. But just because it’s the late season doesn’t mean there aren’t other (or better) options. Don’t hunt unseasonable food sources unless it’s just clear that deer are hitting these anyway.

  1. Good Spots with Poor Access

A great spot is only great if you can get in and out of it without pushing deer out. It won’t be great for very long if deer blow every trip afield. That’s especially true for entry and exit routes.

  1. North-Facing Slopes

When it’s bitter cold, deer seek out solar cover. That comes with southern-facing slopes, because these are the hillsides that get the most sunlight in winter. North-facing slopes receive the least.

15 Worst Places To Hunt During The Post Rut
  1. West-Facing Slopes

When it’s really cold, and the wind is blowing, deer find places to get away from that sharp blustery wind that cuts like a sharp knife. Usually, that’s on an eastern- or southern-facing slope. Western and sometimes northern slopes receive the most wintry wind.

  1. Far from Bedding Areas

The late season drives deer to seek out food. But once they find good grub, they still move less than they did earlier in the year. In fact, their metabolism and movements slow down to conserve energy. So, setting up closer to bedding areas is important for intercepting daytime movement.

  1. Right Over the Beds

While it’s good to hunt closer to bedding areas, invading the bedroom isn’t a great plan. Deer oftentimes spend most of their time in or close to bedding areas, even the hours leading up to daylight. So, getting settled in a bedding area is difficult, even for a morning hunt.

  1. Where You Don’t Have Cover

It can be difficult to find a good late season stand location with enough cover to hide your profile. Foliage is limited, and picking a spot can prove challenging. Avoid those that don’t conceal you. Similarly, if the cover doesn’t adequately hide deer, they won’t be there, either.

  1. Where You Can’t Take a Shot

If the area is too thick, what’s the point? Sneaking an arrow through only to catch a twig doesn’t do any good. If there aren’t good shooting lanes, find another perch to plan your hunt.

  1. Where You Aren’t Seeing Deer

As obvious as it sounds, don’t invest time into locations where you aren’t seeing deer. Late season whitetails tend to crowd into areas that still offer good bedding and food sources. And that’s where they’ll likely be the remainder of winter. So, find the deer, and have a good hunt.

Josh Honeycutt
Josh Honeycutt is an avid deer hunter. He's hunted whitetails from South Carolina to South Dakota but spends most of his time hunting in Kentucky. Honeycutt has written and created other forms of media for more than 60 media companies in the outdoor industry, including: North American Whitetail, Whitetail Journal, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Deer & Deer Hunting, Rack Magazine, Inside Archery, Game & Fish, Fur-Fish-Game, and others. He's also very active in digital content, specializing in writing, editing, photography, videography, podcasting, and more. You can see how his deer season unfolds each year on Midwest Whitetail and Chasing November.
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