Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The deer have disappeared... now what?

Hello all,

Over the past 2-3 hunts I haven't seen a signal deer or sign of a deer 150 yards from a known food source, which is winter wheat. This week is a bow hunting week, I assume to let the deer relax a bit before gun season. Gun season, here in Tennessee, begins this coming Saturday.

What do you do when it is the ninth hour and your deer have either changed their habits and gone a different way and/or gone nocturnal?

The simple answer (on paper) is to go in after them. Get closer to the bedding area but be mindful of the wind direction going in. If it means you need to walk clean around a mountain...? Leave early and walk to your hunting area wearing clothing that will not make you sweat. Save your heavier clothes for when you get to your stand.

Another thought: Don't hang a treestand during the season in areas where baiting is not allowed. I recently read an article that mentioned that within 3 days of hanging a stand ALL of the deer in that area know that it is there and will avoid it like the plague especially once the bullets start flying.

The morning of gun season "opener" be in next to the deepest hole that a deer can almost climb in to and set up on the downwind side of it. The thick, elevated areas (ie., halfway up a brushy mountain in the thick stuff is where Mr. Big lives during gun season) are where deer seem to be comfortable. They typically like a view and a smell of what is coming down the trail from the food source. Don't take that trail. Move in down wind of it.

If you are able do your deep, deep scouting right after gun season is over. Go until you find multiple bedding areas. Look for rubs and scrapes then too. But, if you don't know the area check the topo/ aerial photos found here:

This is a cheap way to get the lay of the land. Find the known food sources and guess the next mountainside over. Try to figure the quickest and easiest path to the area and set up closer to the bedding area then the food source. Think thick cover.

Avoid marching to your hunting location right on the trial that you figure the deer will be walking. Walk around it even if it adds an hour to the setup. Remember wind (even if you have a carbon suit). If the suit does work for some reason you don't want to learn that on season opener.

REMEMBER: About 80-85% of all deer taken during hunting season are taken on the Opening day of rifle season.

REMEMBER: If you hunt WMA's or public land, figure that every hunter in the world will be where you planned to hunt so have a backup (or seven) and go deeper into the woods and not right off of a food source.

If your gun season falls during the peak of the rut deer activity will be higher than usual for a gun season but they will follow the does and in pressured areas the does are going into the thickest stuff in the woods and staying put until dark. Just the scent of a booger could send them into a run that leads them the the next state.

If you miss them going into the bedding area you may still see them browsing on acorns or other natural mast close to heavy cover.

Many say don't shoot the does... this is great advise if your herd is either one to one, buck to doe ratio, if you are interested in shooting Mr. Big more than you are filling your freezer. During the rut you have your best chance of seeing the biggest deer of your life... but, you probably wont.

My general rule is this: knowing that the deer where I hunt are way over populated with does. Wisconsin was the same way. I need and want venison more than I do horns. I can't eat the horn. I shoot anything that I see during gun season. When my kids are old enough to stock my freezer I will get the luxury of hunting for my Mr. Big. Of course, if the Lord wills for me to have a Mr. Big he will provide him for me. There isn't anything that my weak brain and body can do without his help. At the end of the day, I am only guessing.

I don't still hunt much... however sometimes this will produce results. I would reserve this for hunting during the week when there aren't as many hunters. It is a dangerous affair walking around an area heavily populated with hunters. Be careful in making this choice if you run into the wrong hunter it could be your last. Plus during the opening weekend you have a better chance of disturbing someone's hunt. I wouldn't/ haven't appreciated hunters disturbing my legal hunt. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but be curtious. Don't show up an hour before dark or half hour before sun up walking right through the food plot.

Another piece of advise don't leave your stand midday. Many hunters get out of their stands late morning. They kick up deer and might send them your way.

If you don't have a perfect place already picked out. Make an educated guess and stick with it. If you are wrong ok.... make a note for next year. But, if you leave the stand before dark you may end up pushing Mr. Big to someone else.

I am guilty of this. I like to get up for lunch to stretch my legs. I would do better staying put.

I pray that all who read this will have a safe and BLESSED Season Opener 2007.

God Bless,

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