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  • Chris Campanelli

Taking Inventory | End of Deer Season

No hunter enjoys watching the beloved deer hunting season come to an end. Even during those excruciatingly tough seasons that just don't go your way, there is always a sense of disappointment when the season closes out. If you're anything like us, you spend months on end getting ready for the season. Doing anything you can to pass the time until you can get back in the field. As long as the season takes to get here, it leaves us twice as fast.

This is the life of a deer hunter, and it's par for the course. The season wouldn't be so sweet if we didn't have to endure the off-season.

Speaking of the dreaded off-season, there is no time like the close-out of the current season to get your off-season prep process started off on the right foot. We're not talking about getting your food plots or treestands prepped. We're talking about taking inventory at your hunting location, especially for those who hunt private ground or have the ability to use cameras on public land. There is no time like the present to pick up more intel for the season ahead.

It may seem absolutely useless to analyze your trail camera results at this point in the year. Some of you may have even taken your cameras down several weeks ago. While I do personally remove my cameras following the season, I make sure to keep them rolling right up to that point. It's all about looking ahead to the 2019-20 season. Yes, even in the wee hours of the brand-new year. It never hurts.

Think of your trail camera pictures as pieces of a much larger puzzle. Each phase of the season yields puzzle pieces that can come together to give you a clear picture loaded with information. In order to get that crucial intel that can help to produce success, we need to have all of the pieces of the puzzle. Meaning that we should take every phase of the season into account.

How can we see the entire puzzle if we neglect all of the pieces we have been collecting in the last leg of the season? Those pictures obtained from late-January and even early February may seem useless, and they probably are when it comes to helping you this season. That changes completely when we are talking about next season, however.

I always like to know what I am working with heading into the heart of the winter. There are certainly no guarantees that what we see now will make it through to the spring, but it sure helps to know what your property is producing at this stage. Most importantly we want to know what made it through the hunting season. From there we can begin to put together the early stages of our game-plan for the spring and summer of management work.

It's great to be able to pick up on fine details, but I look toward the larger picture at this stage. Sure, it's awesome to put your finger on a known shooter buck that made it through hunting season. I tend to be more concerned with generalizations at this point, and that's what I am looking to pick up on with my end-of-season trail cam run. I want to see the general state of the area.

How many 3.5-year old bucks are still on the hoof and looking at becoming potential target bucks in 2019? How many 1 and 2-year old deer are in the area and in need of solid food sources to keep growing? These are the kind of questions that we're looking to answer at this stage. Again, it's great to know a giant buck by name, but I tend to reserve my excitement in that aspect for the summer.

For now it's all about getting a general read on the state of your hunting spot as we turn the page on the season that was.

Don't take the bait and kick your feet up just because it's a dull period in the deer hunting world. Intel is key when it comes to hunting trophy whitetails. There are no guarantees that the man (or woman) with the most information wins, but that tends to be the case more times than not.

#DeerSeason #Whitetails #DeerHunting #TrailCamera #Scouting #Winter #DeerManagement

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