There are plenty of tips on what to do in the woods as a hunter, so here's a guide on what NOT to do. Namely, hunt with me.
There is no shortage of material to read these days on what to do while deer hunting.
So here’s a guide on what NOT to do. Namely, hunt with me.
Then again, the number of friends I’ve hunted with this season who put down deer as we hunted the same property has moved on to a second hand. So maybe you do want me.
But the cold and hard reality for this hunter is that the funk is dangerously close to being two straight seasons. Last season, of course, was a bit of an anomaly for many because of the unusual warmth. Theories touched every spectrum of conspiracy, ranging from wrong population estimates, warm weather, lack of snow and lack of deer due to the prior winter’s brutality.
Even then, opportunities were missed. And while the approaches could have been altered, how much would that accomplish? If I miss stationary deer at 20 or 30 yards, I have no one but myself to blame because I’m not about to go Hunger Games in the woods and shoot a recurve accurately while on the run or while tumbling through the brush. Not many, if any, can do this.
So what’s the excuse for 2016?
Let’s start with lack of opportunity. As engrossed as I am with being out in the woods in pursuit of the great American white tail, there are priorities outside of that. Chief among them is doing a job that entails covering a lot of high school sports.
This most certainly is not a complaint. We had plenty of area teams make deep tournament pushes, including three soccer teams in Section V finals and three volleyball teams in their respective finals. And, of course, there was the run by Victor football.
Again, no complaints here but these are the things that keep hunters in an office, at a team’s practice or in a press box. And when you’re driving to and from this, it’s all I can do to hold back the angst as I drive by fields and see trucks parked in the corner.
But again, opportunities have been presented. During the peak of the rut in the bow season, I had separate small bucks within range. And this was on land where the farmer’s idea of deer management is eradication without discrimination. No waiting for bucks to mature.
But as much as the rut does put deer on the move, it can be a bit of an annoyance, too. Because these bucks were cruising. And when I say cruising, I mean they were on the move with their nose to the ground and they were stopping for nothing.
Well, almost nothing. But I am not a doe in estrous so my odds of getting a buck to strike a broadside pose was next to nothing and all I could do was sit in my stand and watch the proceedings as if I were at a parade.
Of course, plenty of deer were seen at shotgun range. But I am now convinced that deer not only know it’s deer hunting season, they know which deer hunting season it is. That’s why most of the deer I saw were out of range of my bow.
And now that it’s the regular season, they tease accordingly. Two weeks ago, I sat inside the woods with the idea of intercepting a traveling deer en route to the open field, and food. Not only did that strategy not work that day, it didn’t take any more than five of my steps toward the end of legal shooting light to kick up a buck that was bedded in tall grass about 40 yards from where I sat.
So as I sat on a bucket for two hours in the woods, this fella had the time to come up with a plan to mock me. And when he jumped up as I walked out, still with about 15 minutes of light remaining, he proceeded to trot up the hill and from me.
And while he was 60 yards away, broadside, he positioned himself on the ridge of a hill that has houses on the other side. So, of course, I couldn’t shoot.
Last week, the doe that met me in the final minutes of shooting light positioned herself with a road behind her. Again, no safe shot.
So yes, it’s true. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Vacation days taken during the season were met with high winds or steady rain. Or warmth. Or, in the case of two days ago, plumbing problems at my daughter’s daycare turned my day of planned hunting into a day of daddy duty.
And yet again, no complaints. I love my job and I love my family, but when it comes to hunting this season, the breaks have been few.
If there’s one thing that hunting has taught me over the years, it’s that persistence counts for much and luck for even more. All it takes is a few seconds to turn an entire season of frustration around.
So as we enter the final weekend of the regular season, my optimism remains. Even if it doesn’t work, we still have my favorite portion of the season approaching and my muzzleloader is ready.
So, too, unfortunately, are the deer.
Chavez is sports editor at the Daily Messenger. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @MPN_bchavez