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By on November 1, 2019

Tips & Rifle Selection

Roadking Outdoors Contributor

Without a doubt, some of the best animals are harvested during late-season hunts. Obtaining late season tags is a great way to prolong your hunting season and harvest wild game in their winter ranges. However, hunting during the winter months has its challenges. With some hard work, warm gear and persistence, you can bring home the buck or bull of a lifetime.

Depending on the state and tag, late-season hunts typically run from November through February. November is a great time to hunt because most mule deer and whitetail deer are rutting. At this time, doe calls, fawn distress calls, buck grunts and antler rattling can help bring the deer right to you. During November, I like hunting from a tree stand so I can call the deer in and get a close-range shot from above. Back East, I typically hunt with my bow during early November. 

From mid-November on, I usually rifle hunt the western states. I recently hunted in Colorado with my rifle and harvested a beautiful buck in the snow. The buck was still chasing does, and I made a shot at 500 yards that put him down quickly. That day, the temps were in the single digits and battling the cold wasn’t easy. My biggest advice for late-season hunts is to dress warm so that you can stay in the elements as long as possible. Wear multiple down jackets, bibs, and gloves. Bring hand warmers, beanies, and warm coffee to help fight that bitter cold morning air. 

Rifle Selection

Knowing what rifle is right for the game you’re hunting is one of the biggest decisions in late-season hunts. There are a couple of go-to rifles that I use year to year. Following are some specs for my favorites. Also in the mix are some of my favorite rifles for various types of hunting such as small game, varmint, antelope and birds.

Best Long-Range Hunting Rifle

The Weatherby 30-378 has a bullet velocity of over 1800-ft per second at 1000 yards. Also, if you want good knockdown power, this is the gun for you.

Most Versatile Hunting Rifle

Any 30-06 is a safe round to commit too. The 30-06 bullets are tried and true, having been in military use since 1906. This is a great round for deer or elk. 

Best Women’s Hunting Rifle

The Weatherby Camilla .308 weighs just over six pounds and is built shorter and lighter to better fit women in the field. 

Best Small Game and Varmint Rifle

The Springfield Saint Edge AR-15 shoots fast and flat and has barely any recoil. The round capacity makes it a fun gun to use for hunting jackrabbits before dark and coyotes.

Best Bird Shotgun

The Remington 870 is as old as time and somehow always seems to be my favorite. With a long barrel and heavy punch, this gun is a blast to use on clay pigeons, pheasants, doves, and grouse. It is also extremely affordable.

Best Open-Carry Sidearm

The Springfield Range Officer Elite Operator 1911 10mm is my every-day open carry gun in the mountains. The round capacity and punch behind a 10mm make it a great choice for self-protection.

Best Conceal-Carry Small Sidearm

The Springfield 911 .380 ACP fits in your pocket and is just plain fun to shoot.

Best Muzzleloader

I shot my first western deer with a CVA Accura mountain muzzleloader. It’s truly a great hunting weapon. They’re very accurate out to 300 yards.

Favorite Scope for Every Rifle

The glass on the Vortex Razor HD scope is the best of the best. Combine that with Vortex’s affordability, a lifetime warranty and the best, most-versatile rifle scope.

Do Your Homework

Before purchasing your new hunting rifle, be sure to check your state’s rules and regulations. If you’re allowed to conceal or open carry in your state, I highly recommend carrying a sidearm while hunting. This gives you an extra source of protection against predatory animals that you may encounter on the mountain. I’ve had a lot of bears come into my tree stand in November, and it’s nice to know that I can fire a warning shot if it decides to climb up the tree I’m sitting in.

When choosing your hunting rifle, always consider the type of animal you’ll be shooting and how far away it’s likely to be. Before I moved out West, I never shot further than 100 yards. Since moving to Utah and buying long-range rifles such as the Weatherby 30-378 with the Vortex Razor HD, I’ve been able to harvest elk at 340 yards and deer at 500 yards. With some practice and a steady hand, you can be very confident your long-range shots will find their targets. These shots seem to present themselves frequently when you’re in the midst of beautiful mountainous terrain, canyons and vistas.

I hope that RoadKing readers experience some successful late-season hunts this year. Remember to practice proper gun handling and safety when you take your favorite hunting rifle into the field. One last tip for enjoying the hunt—to face the cold winter nights, prepare some of your favorite Dutch oven dinners to warm you up fireside after the sun goes down. I like tri-tip or deer roast with some carrots, onions and potatoes slow-cooked in gravy. 

Thanks everyone and happy hunting! 

About Warren Eulgen

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