December Deer Hunting Tactics

December is a difficult time to hunt deer. There can be a mini rut that happens as the doe’s that did not get bred during the normal rut or those that came into heat late happen end of November into the first few weeks in December. The deer will start moving into their winter yards and will more than likely abandoned the fields or normal travel routes.

As a hunter you have to adapt to these changes if you want to be successful. By December most states have had their gun season which means that the deer have been pressured. During this pressure deer patterns change. I have seen whitetails that will go nocturnal and will find places that are good to hide.

The bucks will be spending time eating to put back on weight during this time. Keep an eye on different food sources. This may find you in the middle of a lot of deer if you happen to be lucky enough to find them.

Preparing for the Cold

Post rut hunting is challenging. Temperatures are usually cold and depending on where you are hunting could be well under zero. Hunting under these conditions can be very harsh. I would suggest adding extra things to your pack in case you get stuck out in the elements. I add extra fire starting materials to my pack and solar blanket just in case.

Hunting last season requires a few different tactics. If you can stay warm, you will have a much better chance to sit still. Shivering is an enemy of the hunter. The movement can give away your position thus making it important to plan ahead. Spending a little time planing in this area can go along way. There are many different products out there that can help in this endevore. Mr Buddy Heater is one such product.

Dressing correctly is required to hunt in the cold. I add a cotton base layer and add layers one at a time as needed. I will add a wind layer at the top to help protect against the cold. Wind is one of the biggest factors in getting cold. The idea is to create areas of air pockets that your body will warm which in turn will keep you warm. The wind layer keeps the pockets of warm air from being pushed out.

Post Rut Hunting

Now that the precautions have been discussed on to the actual hunting. The mini rut will happen during this time frame which can help a hunter be successful. The bucks will chase the doe’s that are coming into heat and there will be some tactics that will still work from the rut.

The patterns of deer will change during this month of hunting. The whitetail deer will start to move into their winter range. Food sources are becoming more scarce and deer will look more into shelter than during the summer and fall. I try to hunt the edges of swamps and thick areas.

Valleys is another area that I will target during this time frame. Deer are trying to find areas to get out of the wind and to keep warm. Using this knowledge of hunting valley edges where the hill will block the wind has been very successful for me. Deer are just like us hunters. They will find areas that will help them stay warm. Find and hunt those areas and it will increase your chances of success.

Swampy areas usually provide protection from the wind and provide good cover. I will try and find areas that are a little open in the thick stuff. Topographical maps can greatly assist in finding these hidden gems. Over the years, I have found these little places and have had great success.


Scouting is something that I do year around. I spend more time scouting after gun season than before. This is a good time to see where the deer have been and where they have been eating. I’ll keep this information documented for next year. As part of that scouting I’ll try and find where the deer are currently bedding and eating as well.

The whitetails can start to lose their antlers during December but usually not until January. While scouting, I’ll keep an eye out for sheds. During this phase I put in some leg time in the woods. I take the opportunity to check out new areas and to watch what the deer are doing. I try to understand “why” the deer do what they are doing to give me a better chance at success.

Scouting is important throughout the year but can be really productive during this time of year. Even if I already filled my available tags, I’ll still scout. If I bump deer during this time frame, it won’t be detrimental. They will forget all about being bumped out of their beds by the following years.

Camera’s will also help out greatly in scouting. I put out several cameras all throughout the season. They are invaluable in gathering Intel. Not only are they out there when you are not but they also keep human scent in the area down to a minimum. I couldn’t recommend the use of camera’s more. There are several different kinds out there from simple SD card ones which you have to switch out to ones that have cell service and send the pictures to your phone or computer.

I would highly suggest that you hide them well or add camera security boxes to help stop thieves. I hide them as well as I can and haven’t had any issues. I’ve had friends that have even had them stolen on private land. It can be like Christmas morning when I go switch out SD cards and look at the pictures that my cameras have taken.

Deer Drives

Deer drives can be an effective way to get deer up and moving around. Depending on where you are hunting there may be doe gun seasons during December. If I’m bow hunting driving is not something that I will do. Running shots with a bow are almost impossible. Deer drives can be a good way to hunt when its cold. Drives involve pushing deer in a direction where they can be ambushed. This can be a great way to socialize with your fellow hunting party members.

Wrapping it up

Hunting in December can be hard but also can be rewarding as well. Hunting in the northern United States anyway can be really cold. There’s been days where I’ve been out hunting when the temperatures didn’t get into the positives during the day.  Those are cold morning. Dress properly and it can be manageable. I will use a ground blind much more often during the cold days. It cuts down on the wind as well as allows the ability to add a heater to help keep you warm.

Scouting is an important aspect of hunting but one that can help you be much more successful. If you have an understanding what a deer will do and why, you can plan your attack accordingly. You can also find sheds on occasions during this time frame.

Don’t hesitate to try out different things. You can learn a lot of things hunting during the cold days of December. Camera’s can help your scouting efforts. They can help keep the human scent down and give you an insite as is in your area.

Hunting in December can get you the deer of your dreams. Learn to hunt the cold and what the deer are going to do during this time frame and you can be successful. Take the time to get to know the area will not only help you during December but also during the earlier part of the season.

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12 thoughts on “December Deer Hunting Tactics”

  1. I don’t go hunting but I love reading things about hunting and the strategies used for hunting. Reading that Deers don’t use their normal route and they tent to hide out in December was something new for me. I’m just really surprised how to have noticed the different patterns of Deer during different seasons. You have really put a lot of time in this.

    I read that Deer hide at the Valley edges for warm and it will be easy to hunt them there. That is just an awesome observation. Thank you for sharing these strategies and patterns with us. This is going to help so many hunters.

    • Hello Sujandar,

      It took many years of observation and studying deer patterns to come to that conclusion.  I’d be seeing deer all the time thoughout the summer and fall.  All of a sudden they were gone.  I talked about the properties that I hunt to figure out what happened.  Over time it became clear that the deer moved every December and that I had to change my strategy if I was going to be successful. Thank you for your comment.


  2. I’ve personally never gone deer hunting but I have plenty of relatives that do. We rent out a hunting stand on our property to hunters. I see plenty of cars parked on the side of the road with racks on them. The hunters are in the woods. But I’ve never thought about how intricate dressing for the cold is during the end of the season.  Deer season is over in about a week here in SC. 

    • Hello Priscilla, 

      Dressing for the cold in the colder states is an important item to consider.  When I was a kid, I got my gloves wet and didn’t dry them overnight. My fingers got a touch of frostbite which I can still feel to this day. Whenever it is cold out my hands get cold faster then anything else.  I carry extra gloves and hats in my hunting pack just for this reason. Never going to know what you are going to run into. Thank you for you comment. 


  3. Nice article. I’m happy have been able to learn  how to become a smart successful hunter by following the basic instruction in this article. This article is very detail on how to hunt deer during this time. Even if you are not a professional hunter. We also learn to dress well so as to protect ourselves from cold because this season is very cold all round the world. 

    Another important thing I noticed in advanced world is hunting has gone very technological and technological but in Africa and some part of Asia hunting is still treated as a poor man’s job. You can hardly see anyone again who can say that hunting is his hubby which was not like that in the past.

    I seriously had a great fun reading your blog post. Nice job


    • Hello Tsquare,

      I didn’t think about the use of technology in other countries. That is an interesting topic to think about.  I can still get around using a compass or just the sun but how many other people can? It is interesting that hunting is considered a poor man’s job in those countries.  Thank you for teaching me something new and thank you for your comment. 


  4. I can tell by reading your article that you are an avid hunter. You really understand the behaviour and habit of your prey. Unlike those articles I read that only recommend hunting tool, yours had really is helpful for new hunter like me. What about hunting in tropical countries, what’s your thoughts about this? 

    • Hello Florence,

      I have been hunting for many years.  I hunt early in the season when the temperatures can be in the 90’s.  A Thermacell is a must in those situations.  Bugs will cause issues with you hunting and sitting still.  A thermacell will solve that issue.  Even with all the knowledge that I have gained over the years, deer will still confuse me sometimes.  They’ll just pop up out of nowhere sometimes.  All part of the enjoyment of hunting.  It wouldn’t be any fun if you were successful every trip out.

  5. Hi! Thank you very much for sharing your experience as a hunter. I greatly appreciate some of the points you have laid out here. 

    Using a camera can definitely help with the scouting activities.

    And I haven’t gone hunting in the winter. And thus I didn’t know how important was to keep warm. You’re right: Shivering is an enemy of the hunter.

    • Hello Henry,

      Thank you for your comment.  Camera’s have made all the difference in the world. They allow you to take inventory of what is in the area.  They are not all inclusive though.  The 8 pointer I took this year never showed up on camera all year.  Dressing for the weather is extremely important. If you are cold you’ll have trouble sitting still.


  6. Wow what a great article. I t was not only well written but I learnt so much about hunting tactics from this article. Thank you so muc. I’ll be sure to apply this tips on my next hunting trip. Happy new year!

    • Hello Pam,

      Thanks for the comment. Its good to see that my experiences and knowledge will be put to good use. I’ve seen and learned many new things over the years. Happy new year.


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