The archery and flintlock seasons will end on Monday, allowing tag holders a week remaining to put some venison in the freezer.
With harassment and hunting pressure now greatly reduced in the woods, deer are moving earlier in the evenings and are more visible.
Deer are aware that there is strength in numbers, and larger groups often congregate on preferred food sources, which can make them harder to harvest. With more eyes and noses to fool, a hunter must limit movement, utilize concealment and hunt the wind to enjoy success.
Utilizing natural cover to break up the human outline on the downwind side of where deer are feeding can allow a hunter to remain undetected until a shot is offered.
Most buck in this area still have their antlers, and putting eyes on one during daylight hours is perhaps easier now than at any point in the season. While a number of bucks have been harvested, there is an abundance of deer and they are quick to move into favorable habitat, with a focus on consuming calories.
The reduced herd and dwindling food sources do leave some areas void of deer, and a hunter should seek out a new area if fresh deer sign is absent.
Finding the time to enter the whitetail woods one last time this week will allow great enjoyment with the chance of ending the season on a high note.
• While patronizing the local gas station after a rainy hunt Saturday night, I enjoyed the benefits of living in a small-town USA. The clerk questioned how much of small game season remained, as I was wearing my fluorescent orange small game coat. I informed him that I had been coon hunting but that he had until the end of February to pursue small game.
Happy that he had time remaining to get out and enjoy the outdoors, he then told of a fellow who had been in earlier with a coyote. A quick text message confirmed that the coyote killer was in fact a good friend of mine, and we compared notes on how the hounds had been scenting over the past few days.
It is nice to know that in our area such a high number of hunters are still out enjoying themselves and the benefits that their hunting and trapping licenses provide. If you find the time to head afield this winter, in most cases you will have the woods to yourself, but there is always the chance of running into someone else out enjoying themselves.
In recent years I have made more of an effort to stop and talk with others I encounter afield and have learned much from these visits.
Those wishing to pursue small game this winter should enjoy themselves, although game can be scarce in marginal habitats. Often times small patches of cover can be hunted quickly before one must move to another likely spot.
Continuous habitat that can be hunted one way and then back the other is becoming a thing of the past. The hunters willing to put on the miles or hop from spot to spot stand a better chance at filling their game bags.
In the winter months, all days are not created equal. Last season, it seemed that every Saturday brought high winds or rainy conditions and a good friend and I failed to put together a rabbit hunt.
• Duck and goose season will close Saturday, and with the recent warm spell, there is still some waterfowl to be found in the area.
Goose season will reopen on Jan. 31 and run well into the month of February.
The rolling terrain of this area can make following flocks and scouting them difficult, but for those willing to put in the time, some great hunts can be had.