Muzzleloader Season Offers Second Chance

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2006 Buck Web

The 2015 Missouri Firearms Alternative Methods deer season is taking place December 19-29. If your firearms tag is still folded neatly in the front pocket of your favorite jacket, don’t give up. You can still tag a buck this year if you break out the old smoke pole, or any of the other legal weapons allowed during this season: centerfire pistols or revolvers, air-powered firearms, longbows, compound bows, and recurve bows, crossbows and atlatls. Valid permits are Firearms Any- Deer and Firearms Antlerless Deer. The season limit is one antlered deer for all portions of the firearms deer season.

The rut has subsided and bucks are busy replenishing precious calories they burned up chasing does. Focusing your efforts on food sources is a best bet during the Alternative Methods season. The hot spot you picked out for the rifle season may not be so hot now. Consider looking for out of the way places where you or anyone else hasn’t pressured deer on the property you’re hunting. Out of the way places like fencerows, creek banks, and brushy patches of scrub timber along the edge of harvested agricultural fields could all potentially serve as a buck’s oasis from hunting pressure.

During the rifle season, a lot of hunters simply rely on the fact that bucks are rutting and could potentially show up anywhere at anytime. Remember bucks are now for the most part through with searching for does, even though there could be a second phase of the rut. So the strategy of find the does and you find the bucks is no longer relevant. Mature bucks that have made it through rifle season are in recovery mode. You’ll find them near food sources.

Across much of Missouri, many hunters spend their time in the vast forests chasing woodland whitetails. If you are hunting an area that has any fencerows connecting two standing tracts of timber, I suggest you give sitting along the fencerow a try. There are two main reasons why I suggest this. First, when traveling between tracts of timber, bucks will normally want to stay as close to cover as possible. If a fencerow is the only cover available, bucks would rather hug that than cross open ground. Secondly, other hunters who are still out there are likely beginning to get a little anxious. This means their level of patience could be dwindling, causing them to want to move around more and leave their stands earlier. If you are hunting a fencerow or creek bank connecting two tracts of timber containing other hunters, then there’s a good chance those hunters could push a fleeing deer past you.

Don’t overlook brushy areas or small tracts of timber standing in or along a harvested agricultural area. I once discovered a buck’s secret hiding place when I glassed him one morning slipping into a weedy low spot out in the middle of a picked cornfield. This small patch of weeds and briars is no more than a half-acre. I watched this buck bed in this area multiple times before another guy hunting on my property finally tagged him in transit.

If you want to stack the odds in your favor of connecting on a buck during the Alternative Methods season, start thinking a little outside the box. When you’re walking back to your vehicle in the morning, make a slow pass through the small woods you originally thought wouldn’t hold any deer. Take some time to explore any fencerows or creek banks with optics from a distance. You never know what sort of surprise you may come across.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


Already have a full freezer? Read about Share the Harvest and how to donate venison to the hungry.


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