Take the Family Hunting this Holiday Season

Family Hunting Over the Holidays

 

The holidays are devoted to family time. It is the one time of the year to catch up with distant relatives, share stories of the past hunting season with close family members and look towards a new year of success outdoors and within our personal lives. All those being true, it is also a great time to enjoy some family hunting.

 

Hunting during the holidays is not for everyone. The weather is terrible (think snow, wind chills and early darkness) and not to mention those animals that are still out there are the best of the best. Only the most mature bucks, strongest birds and fastest small mammals have made it through lengthy hunting seasons to this point. Any game left is crafty and elusive so hunting this time of year will not come easy.

 

Family hunting around the holidays makes perfect sense, though. Kids are off from school for an extended period and usually you also have a few days off surrounding Christmas and New Years. This presents more opportunities for families to get outdoors for some quality time hunting. There is often no better place for life lessons than the freezing duck blind, snowy pheasant field or oak flat searching out winter squirrels. Hunting with kids is not only about harvesting an animal but more related to the skills and facilitation of conversation that hunting opens up. Also, hunting is not the only outdoor activity to take part in over the holidays. Holiday break can be a great time to also introduce kids to shooting. Whether it is in the backyard with a new Bear Archery bow or time at the shooting range plinking with .22s, both give you that chance to connect with your kids outdoors.

 

Hunting during the holidays is also a tradition for many families. As we grow up and start our own lives, hunting is a way to reconnect with siblings and extended family members over the holidays. Instead of sitting around eating meal after meal for days, plan a hunt with family. This will get you outdoors and back among family enjoying the sport of hunting you grew up with. Family holiday hunting can either be scheduled at a hunting club or outfitter or it can be simply a preplanned time to get a few family members to head out to the local public grounds for a half day small game hunt. Either way, family hunting over the holidays enables a reconnection with the past, the ability to relive hunting experiences and an opportunity to start your kids hunting among family.

 

Family Hunting Options for the Holidays

 

For those looking to plan some hunting during the holidays, there are numerous opportunities depending on where you are located. Most states have small game seasons open throughout the winter. Also, select deer seasons come back in around the holidays such as late-season archery and traditional muzzleloader. If nothing else, game farms and hunting preserves usually have family hunting opportunities. The upside is that most hunting opportunities available over the holidays are better suited for a family. For instance, deer hunting is often solitary. You may hunt the same general area with your kids or friends but usually, it is you by yourself in a tree stand for hours. Hunting waterfowl, small game or upland birds, all of which are typically in season around Christmas, aligns more with group family hunting trips. These types of hunts are fun and shareable with friends and family.

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Tips for Balancing Hunting During the Holidays

 

Even though the holidays are a joyous time of year, they are jammed packed with dinners, visits, and other family related activities. Do not worry, however, there are ways to accomplish it all and take part in some family holiday hunting. With some planning and a little compromising, you can find ways to get outdoors over the holidays. Here are five tips on how to balance the holidays with family hunting.

 

  1. Schedule It

    . With hunting, you know what is in season this time of year so there are no excuses not to schedule a time to hunt well in advance. Marking your calendar early ensures you schedule time for family hunting trips but it also allows the rest of your family to plan the remaining holiday season.

 

  1. Preplan

    . Preplanning is similar to scheduling, except once you have hunting scheduled during the holidays you need to plan all that goes into it. If you plan ahead of time, you will not have to spend precious time away from family around Christmas and New Year’s searching Scheels for winter Under Armour clothing or other last minute gear you may need for winter hunting.

 

  1. Communicate

    . The most important tip for balancing hunting during the holidays is communicating with your family about your schedule and plans. Communicate your intentions for the holidays (days you will be gone, when you will be available, etc.) but also remember to stay in touch with family while you are away. Your holiday household will be much healthier if everyone is on the same page regarding the holiday schedule.

 

  1. Experiences Matter Most

    . Family hunting comes down to spending quality time outdoors with your kids and other family members. Plan hunts that are ones where all your family can get involved and enjoy. Great experiences outdoors will lead to a family holiday hunting tradition shared year after year.

 

  1. Compromise

    . As the years go by, life changes. We grow up, have families and change priorities. It is important to compromise over the holidays. Years ago you may have spent all your time off around Christmas hunting. However, you may now have to narrow that down to a few days. By compromising between hunting and non-hunting activities over the holidays, you will have a complete and enjoyable holiday season.

 

The holiday season brings with it traditions and time spent with family that is unique to this time of year. Family hunting is one of those traditions that provides an opportunity to bring together different generations outdoors. Make the most of this holiday season by spending time with you kids hunting and enjoying time with family and friends outdoors.

Late Season Hunting

Late Season Hunting | It Can Be A Family Affair

Late Season Hunting I A Great Opportunity with Friends and Family

Snow is beginning to fall across the Country, and as the white starts to come down, a great time develops to slap on the Under Armour, break out the Bear bow, muzzleloader, or slug gun, and tuck in close to a food source in the preparation for some cold weather, late season hunting.

The months of December and January can be two of the best months to find yourself in the deer stand or box blind in search of your hit-list buck.  White-tailed deer during the latter part of the season are no longer focused on breeding and have changed their attention to survival.  This is especially true for mature bucks that are worn down from the heavy rutting activity.  Success with late season hunting is all about cold weather, and keying in on food and cover.  Although the conditions may be somewhat harsh, the late season can also be a great time to share the blind or deer stand with your friends and family.

Food = Late Season Hunting Success

No doubt, if you read any article that discusses tips and tactics for late season hunting success it will make some reference to the importance of focusing on a food source.  The reason you see the topic of hunting food sources continue to be repeated is simple, it is because it really is an important part of most late season hunting strategies.  Now hunting food sources is not the end all be all, but keying in on these areas and building your overall hunting strategies around them can be a great move and can lead to putting a cold weather whitetail on the ground.

When the weather turns cold and the snow begins to cover the ground, deer will begin to keying on food sources that are high in protein and carbohydrates.  At this point in the year, whitetails and more specifically bucks are focused on replenishing their fat reserves and their body condition. They have been physical appearance and health has greatly deteriorated from heavy rutting activity.  In order to make sure that they make it through a hard winter, food will constantly be on the mind.

Not all food sources are created the same, however, so as a result there are some food sources that are sure to be more productive during the late season than others.  For example, clover plots are excellent locations to ambush an early season whitetail, but during the late season, they have lost their luster.  In contrast, forages like turnip and radish plots as well as grain fields like corn and soybeans can certainly be key areas to focus on during cold weather whitetail hunting.  When you read about hunting grain fields during the late season, you often hear the term “standing grain”.  Standing soybeans or standing corn is simply areas that have either been planted as a food source for wildlife or are areas that have been unharvested by the farmer.  In both cases, these areas are exceptional areas for late season hunting.

Standing grains do provide a little bit of a benefit verse hunting a completely cut corn or soybean field.  The main reason is the ease in which whitetail deer can get to the food.  Standing grains make it easy for the deer to access, whereas a completely cut field or even cereal grain fields like winter rye or winter wheat may be a little more difficult.  This is exceptionally true when the cold weather hits and the ground begin to freeze or be covered with snow.  That being said, both areas are exceptional locations to put a late season deer on the ground.

There is another added benefit to hunting areas such as standing grain fields during the late-season, and that is simply visibility.  Hunting a corn or bean field, especially from an elevated position can help you put your Nikon to work and allow you survey a large area from a distance.  Hunting from an elevated box blind or tripod stand can be an excellent way to put a late season whitetail on the ground, but they can also help you in your overall scouting efforts as well.  Often, hunting from these types of sets and treating them as more of an “observational stand” can help you further hone in on major areas of entry and exit into the food source, allowing you to move in close and hang a stand.  Food sources are a great hub in which you can build your late season hunting strategy around, and should be high on your list of areas to key in on when the cold weather moves in.
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The Importance of Cover

When the weather turns cold, we like to wrap up under a blanket next to a warm fire and just hang out.  Occasionally, we will get up to stretch our legs and get something to eat.  The same can be said for white-tailed deer during the cold weather of the late season.  The cold weather and short days have the deer desperately clinging to the cover, conserving energy and only making an appearance when it is time to grab a quick bite to eat before the frigid temperatures of the night kick in.

When you looking at the types of areas that whitetail deer tend to seek out during the cold weather of the late season, there are a few types of areas that tend to stand out over the others.  The first is areas that have a southwesterly aspect.  These areas tend to receive more direct sunlight during the winter months, and as a result are typically warmer with less snow cover than the north facing slope.  Whitetail deer will key in on these areas and utilize these areas as bedding locations as well as mid-day loafing areas.  Thick areas such as cedar thickets or woodlots that have had Timber Stand Improvement or other types of thinning practices completed will often provide the dense thermal cover that whitetails and other wildlife need during the cold temperatures of the late season.

During other times of the year, it would be in your best interest to avoid putting much pressure on the bedding areas, choosing to hunt the perimeters verse getting in close.  That philosophy changes during the late season.  With time winding down, the late season is often the time to put on the ScentCrusher and tuck in close to the bedding areas.  Hunting these areas can be challenging, but if you are patient and ensure that you have an easy way of entry and exit of the location, and ensure the wind is right for your set and you can find yourself sending around or a GoldTip down range.

It is a Family Affair

The late season is cold and usually wet and snowy.  For some, it doesn’t necessarily sound like fun, but believe it or not, the late season can be an excellent time to get out on the field with your family and friends.  There is something about cold weather that brings people together, and from the comfort of a blind or deer stand many memories can be made.

One of the aspects of late season hunting that makes it so memorable is often the conditions.  The cold conditions tend to stick in your memory banks, but it also makes the hot chocolate or coffee taste that much better.  Another aspect of the late season that makes it so memorable and a great time to get your family and friends outdoors is the activity.  The woods tend to come alive when the weather turns cold and the snow is on.  Whitetails are not the only critters that tend to show themselves during this time as birds, small game, and other wildlife species are alive and well and make for some enjoyable hours in the stand.  Whitetail hunting during the late season is many whitetail hunters favorite time to hit the woods, and if you find yourself in the position of still having a tag left to burn, some of the best hunting may still be ahead of you.  If you get a chance to get out and brave the elements for late season whitetails you might just be happy that you did.  Good luck!