Conventional wisdom says that the best time to kill a big deer — one big enough to qualify for the Texas Big Game Awards program, the Pope & Young Club, or the Boone & Crockett Club — is during the rutting frenzy of November.

Conventional wisdom says that the best time to kill a big deer — one big enough to qualify for the Texas Big Game Awards program, the Pope & Young Club, or the Boone & Crockett Club — is during the rutting frenzy of November.


Those cool days when trees are ablaze with fall color and the woodlots are alive with testosterone crazed bucks chasing does.


But what happens if you find yourself with a buck tag still burning a hole in your back pocket as Christmas Day approaches?


Simple — you get out of your easy chair and go hunting.


Because believe it or not, the deer hunting in December — especially a month like the current version when ice and cold cover the land — can be unbelievably good.


Especially if you follow these four cardinal rules for end of the year success.


The first rule is to hunt the passage of strong cold fronts. Especially on the day or two leading up to the frontal passage as the barometer is falling, clouds are gathering, and wildlife are noticing that a storm is brewing.


Like humans do with their pre-winter storm milk and bread runs that wipe out the shelves at the local grocery store, wildlife do something similar as they get up, feed heavily and pile on the calories to prepare for the coming blast of Old Man Winter.


That’s what local bowhunter Tarif Alkhatib did a few weeks ago when he arrowed a gnarly horned, multi-tined non-typical buck here in Grayson County as the first Arctic blast of the season moved in.


Bundled up in his Under Armour hunting gear as the late November front ushered in temperatures in the lower 30s with a bit of light freezing precipitation, Alkhatib downed the buck as it moved quickly by his stand.


One good shot from his Mathews bow and the local bowhunter was soon on the ground shaking from both excitement and the cold as he tagged his second non-typical wallhanger in the last three seasons.


Which leads to the second rule of late season success — hunt near high calorie food sources.


That’s exactly what Robert Taylor did at the end of last season when he arrowed the pending Pope & Young Club non-typical state record whitetail in Texas, a giant 254 4/8 inch net buck.


The key to Taylor’s hunt — which came on the evening of Dec. 29 as cold weather and the remains of the region’s 2012 White Christmas dotted the landscape — was food.


That food was the combination of corn and a food plot that promised local deer high caloric intake during the cold snap. That was enough to lure in several does, a good 10-point buck, and the huge bruiser that Taylor ended up shooting.


A similar scenario played into the harvest of another top Boone & Crockett non-typical taken here in Grayson County, this time on the final weekend of the 2007 deer season.


That’s when Mike Benson of Sherman guarded a food source on a chilly winter evening as a 201 1/8 inch net non-typical sauntered into range.


Benson’s shot was true and he joined his son Brock in the record book that season as one of the only father-son duos in Texas history to take B&C non-typicals in the same season. (Editor’s note: the younger Benson had arrowed a 200+ B&C non-typical on the opening weekend of that season).


A third rule in tagging a December bruiser is to remember that November doesn’t always have the market cornered on rutting activity.


That’s because of the secondary rut which occurs when does that weren’t bred in last month’s breeding frenzy actually cycle into estrous again approximately 28 days later.


Dallas hunter Sherman Wyman capitalized on the secondary rut on Dec. 24, 2005 when he shot a B&C non-typical buck netting 226 4/8 inches on his low-fence ranch near Wichita Falls.


"I’ve shot a lot of big deer around Christmas time," said Wyman. "(Up in North Texas), everyone thinks once Thanksgiving or the first of December has come and gone, you’re done."


Obviously not.


In Wyman’s mind, the keys to hunting the secondary rut are to find scrapes that have been reopened; to identify and hunt preferred natural food sources that mature bucks tend to key on; and to be in the woods when late-born fawns come into their first estrous cycle in late December.


A final rule to punching a tag on a December buzzer beater buck is to employ the deer hunting version of the photographer’s "F8 and be there" rule.


For photographers, that rule means to put your digital camera on manual, set the f-stop to F8 and be there for the shot.


That idea rings true for late season deer hunters too.


Former Sherman area hunter Mark Wade practiced this rule just before Christmas in 2000 when he carved time out of his busy holiday and professional schedule, braved cold weather, and got to the nearest deer stand as the season wound down.


He was rewarded with the fourth biggest typical ever reported in Grayson County, a 163 5/8 inch net typical, a wide and beautiful racked buck that adorned the good doctor’s Christmas cards that year.


Ray Petree, a Texomaland bowhunter with several Grayson County Record Book (GCRB) bucks to his credit, has also made a habit of punching the clock with late season hunting success.


To the tune of arrowing a good late season buck or two over the years including a 2002 typical that nets 165 4/8 inches and ranks number three in the GCRB standings.


Want to do something similar? Then get out of that easy chair, leave the warmth of the fireplace behind, and get into your deer stand.


"How many guys do you know that were out on a (North Texas) deer stand on Christmas Eve?" says Wyman.


The truth is, not very many.


Only the ones whose inner hunting flame still burns hot enough to drive them out the warm comfort of home and into the chill of the late season woods.


Which is exactly where they hope to be to beat back Jack Frost’s chill while tagging a buzzer beater buck just in time for Christmas delivery.