Late-Season Deer Hunting Tactics With Matt Morrett

Editor’s Note: Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, PA, is a World Champion turkey caller and hunts deer and turkeys all across the nation.

Question: Matt, gun season in Pennsylvania ended the first of December, but the state has a late archery and flintlock season. How do you hunt the late season?
Morrett: Late season is one of my favorite times to hunt. During the late season, the rut is over. So, you don’t have to worry about the deer moving a lot. The bucks have one thing on their mind in the late season – food. The weather’s cold, the food is in short supply, and the deer have to move every day to find something to eat. Therefore, once you can locate a food source the deer visit regularly, whether it’s in open woods or around agricultural fields, you know where to set-up a tree stand or a ground blind and have a reasonable chance of taking deer.

Most of the time the deer won’t bed too far away from the feeding site. My favorite time to hunt is the last 1-1/2-hours before dark because that’s when the deer will come to a food source to feed. To successfully take deer, use all of Hunter’s Specialties scent-elimination products before you go to your stand and prepare to hunt. The only hindrance from being successful in the late season is if deer smell you before they come to the dinner table.

Question: What’s one of the big mistakes hunters make when they hunt the late season?
Morrett: They try to stay too warm. In the late season, it’s usually really cold, so most hunters wear all the clothing they think they’ll need to stay warm in the woods. Then, the hunter will walk to the stand or climb halfway up a mountain, get really warm and sweaty and sit down to hunt with moisture trapped in their clothes and heat leaving their clothes, making them extremely cold. A much better tactic is to dress in layers.

Question: How do you layer?
Morrett: I wear tech clothing, which prevents bacteria from growing to eliminate scent, keeps warm air close to your body and wicks moisture away from your skin. I’ll wear a lightweight t-shirt, a heavier weight base layer, a fleece layer and finally, I’ll carry a waterproof, windproof, bulky outer layer in a scent-free bag. I want to be cool as I walk to the stand to prevent sweating and keep my clothes dry. Once I reach the base of my tree or get inside a ground blind, I’ll put on my outer layer of clothing. This way, I stay much dryer and warmer than most other hunters. I’ve bathed with Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way soap, washed my clothes in Scent-A-Way detergent and kept my hunting clothes in Scent-Safe bags.

Question: You mentioned hunting over a food source. If you bowhunt, do you hunt within 30 yards where you expect the deer to eat, or do you take a stand along a trail where you expect the deer to travel to the food source?
Morrett: I hunt 30 yards from where I expect the deer to eat. If you’ve ever been to Texas and watched Texas hunters hunt over spin feeders, you know they don’t take stands on any of the four or five trails that may lead to the feeder. Texas hunters position themselves so they can shoot right to the feeder, since that’s where the deer come to eat. When I’m hunting in Pennsylvania, I want to hunt right over the food source. Then regardless of which way the deer come to the food source, I’ll get a shot.