For a large majority of whitetail hunters, the month of January might not be that important. But those that are successful on a year to year basis might have a different view. Personally, I think a lot of things can be accomplished during the month of January. What should a serious whitetail hunter do in January to increase their chances of having a successful season?
Last Minute Hunting (For States That Are Still Open)
A lot of southern states and some Midwestern ones as well have deer season last through all of or part of January. If you live in one of these places, don’t overlook this month for some great hunting opportunities. If you can locate a solid food source, you can still have some pretty good hunts. The two keys for me when it comes to January hunting are food and weather. In the times I’ve been able to find a good food source and had bad weather, I’ve experienced some awesome January hunts.
Immediate Post Season Scouting
For those of you that live in a state that closes in December or early January, one of my favorite things to do this time of year is immediate post season scouting. Depending on where you live, this scouting can accomplish a couple different things. Where I’m in northern Minnesota, usually buried in snow, my immediate post season scouting is to identify where deer are congregating this time of year, as well as potential food sources and bedding areas. This knowledge will help me when we get to the late season next year. I’ll also use this information for shed hunting, since in order to be successful at finding sheds, you need to know where deer are wintering.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have much snow and can still make out the ground or see bottoms of trees, you can then use this immediate post season scouting time to unearth a lot of information from this past fall. Not only can you view the timber as it was in the fall, but more importantly, you don’t have to worry about where you might intrude. This means you can walk with no fear of bumping bucks or spooking deer. When you have this opportunity, the sign will be as fresh as it is all year during the off-season and that can help you immensely.
Trail Camera Survey
Another thing that can be beneficial to you during the month of January is running some type of trail cameras survey. Essentially, you put out feed in front of trail cameras on your property to help you understand how your deer herd is doing. In the process you can learn what bucks have survived through the year and which ones might not be around anymore. To learn more about trail camera surveys and the specifics to them, you can check out this article by the Quality Deer Management Association, “article name” at QDMA.com.
Shed hunting can be another important activity for whitetail hunters in January. Everywhere is different, but in a lot of areas bucks will start to drop their antlers as early as December. I can attest to this as I already found a shed (from my top Wisconsin target buck) right before New Years. However, you want to be careful not to go full blown shed hunting in January while bucks are mainly still holding on to their antlers. This is another reason trail cameras can be important to you. By keeping up on your cameras, you can wait until you see a majority of the bucks shed their antlers before going in after them. This may happen during this month, or you may spend the whole month keeping up on your trail cameras. There are a lot of different factors that can have an effect on when bucks drop their antlers and it can change from year to year.
One thing about January is that it’s often very cold and miserable. After a long season, it’s understandable for hunters not to want to venture outside. That’s good and all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish anything from the comfort of your couch. During this month, I spend many, many hours looking at maps online, either picking apart current hunting properties or seeking new ones. If I’m looking at current hunting properties, I will mark a whole bunch of different spots to check out once I get boots on the ground to scout. If I’m seeking new properties, I will make a list and will try to get to as many of them as possible over the next few months. Being organized and getting this done now can save you a lot of time in the months ahead.
As previously stated, to some the month of January may not mean much. But don’t overlook the next few weeks. There’s plenty you can do this month, not only prepare for next year, but the months ahead as well.