Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Opening-Day Deer Hunting Tips

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There is a limit to how many tips one can offer, especially to deer hunters. These pages have literally covered the topic of deer hunting since early October, and my brain is weakening after doing nothing but think of other things to cover that may help readers cash in on a nice buck when the season opens Thursday morning.

There are several tips that haven’t been revealed. For some, these tips may seem rather odd but sometimes they produce when all else fails. Consider these suggestions on the opener, and see if they help.

*Go with your gut feelings. If you’ve researched your hunting area, and have chosen what appears to be a hotspot, stick with it. Second-guessing yourself is the best way to mess up.

Years ago, I picked a hotspot after a DNR conservation officer found me a place to hunt on private land in Gladwin County. I looked at it the day before the season, and it looked OK but the next morning while walking through the dark to my hunting area, I found what appeared to be a better spot.

I chose the new spot, and saw nothing while a latecomer showed up about 9 a.m., sat for 10 minutes and shot a big buck where I should have sat. Stick with your original plans and don’t talk yourself out of going with the game plan.

*Get there early and stay late. Too many hunters wait until broad daylight to walk in to their spot, and all they do is push deer to other people. Be in position one hour before legal shooting time, and allow the noise of your passage to calm down. Pack a hefty lunch, and plan to make a day of the hunt. Stay until legal shooting time ends in the evening.

*As an aside to the above tip, consider this: Many hunters get hungry about 10 a.m., and head for camp or town for brunch. They spook deer when they walk out, and those deer meander past other hunters. After brunch, a nap sounds good, and they head back into the woods about 3 p.m. and spook deer to other hunters en route.

The people who benefit most by hungry and sleepy hunters are those who plan to spend the entire day on stand. It makes for a very long day, but I’ve shot many of my opening-day bucks between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

*Hunters who sit in the woods should pack a lunch wrapped in towels. Wax paper or tin foil is crinkly and makes noise when unwrapped, and this noise can spook approaching deer. Wrap sandwiches in towels, and slowly unwrap them. Hand motion can spook deer as readily as noise.

*Woods hunters should choose their ground blind site wisely. This means finding a comfortable spot to sit. A branch or the stub of a tree branch or root poking into your back or butt makes for uncomfortable sitting. The hunter squirms around, and make movements and noise. Only a thoroughly comfortable hunter can sit patiently all day without moving.

*Sitting still is an art, and not everyone can do it. I know several very good deer hunters who cannot sit longer than one hour without getting up and going for a walk. Once they start moving, they also get deer moving, but only rarely will they shoot a buck while going for a walk.

The art to sitting still is to be comfortable, clear your mind of all problems, and learn to absorb the woods into your being. Don’t think but just go with the flow, relax, and when a deer moves nearby, the uncluttered brain will quickly focus on the animal. Dress warmly to avoid shivering and shaking because it’s impossible to sit still when cold.

It’s amazing how a blank mind absorbs all sights and sounds, and allows the hunter to focus on an approaching deer when it becomes necessary to do so. Forget about home, family, work, business problems and other mundane worries, and idly observe and listen to the woods around you.

*Become a one-shot hunter. I taught my wife to hunt and presented her with a single-shot .243 with a 1.5-6X Swarovski scope over 25 years ago. She has only one shot so it makes her concentrate. She spots a buck she wants to shoot, and then waits for it to offer a perfect shot. She aims carefully, never hurries her shot, and has killed well over 100 whitetails.

“When you have only one shot, you soon learn to use it wisely,” Kay said. “Every firearm deer hunter in North America would become a better deer hunter if they carried only one cartridge. You take your best shot, and because you don’t hurry the shot, one bullet is enough for one deer. It works for me.”

*All of these tips have produced bucks for me over many years. None have difficult instructions to follow, and most are a matter of common sense. May the opening-day wind be in your face and all your bucks standing upwind.

Posted by Dave Richey on 11/13 at 10:13 PM
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