Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another Firearm Deer Season Bites The Dust

There was a time when the firearm deer season seemed terribly important to me, and although that still holds true to some degree, I spend more time bow hunting during the Nov. 15-30 season than I do with a firearm.

The same is true for the muzzleloader season. I may hunt a day or two with my in-line black powder rifle, clean it thoroughly, and pick up the bow again. There’s no two ways about it: I’d rather hunt with a bow than a firearm, and that is that.

Frankly, the firearm season wasn’t much. Many people I know, men and women who are good hunters, felt the less than lamented firearm season left a great deal to be desired. The reason is the deer simply stopped moving.

If hunters sit over a bait pile, and don’t move, there is nothing that will make them move except for bitter cold and snow. So, if I’m not going to see many deer, or perhaps none at all, I’d druther do it with a bow in my hands.

So, what is it that attracts me to this bow hunting gig? Especially now when it is bitter cold. Many things, including these plus many more.

*I like deer up close and personal. Preferably well inside of 20 yards, and 15 yards is absolutely ideal. There is no room for mistakes when deer get that close, and it becomes tougher, for me at least, to shoot a buck with a bow once snow covers the ground.

*I find it fascinating to watch deer move in close. Even I can see their long eye lashes and facial hair at 12-15 yards. Reading a deer’s body language, and knowing what they will do, really lights my fire.

*Once the weather turns cold like now, and snow begins to fall like it is tonight, deer hunting takes on a different complexion. The deer are more concentrated in little pockets of cover, and there is the opportunity to obtain close-up looks at deer that may not be possible during other seasons.

*Bow hunting means an accurately tuned bow, and experience drawing a bow with more clothing on. I normally reduce my draw weight by five pounds, and much prefer not having to struggle to come to full draw. Cold weather stiffens muscles, and the added burden of too many clothes makes it all that more difficult to draw and aim accurately without putting extra effort into pulling the bow. That extra effort is what may be noticed by the deer.

*I favor snow for trailing a wounded deer. I always use a Game Tracker string tracking device, but the snow always helps locate blood along a deer trail. The two—snow and Game Tracker—are an unbeatable combination for late-season hunters.

*There is no avoiding the issue. Snow allows hunters to quickly spot an incoming animal. The foliage of October is gone, and when deer move against a white background, they are quickly seen. Spotting deer early in their approach allows hunters to get ready.

*It goes without saying that pinpoint accuracy is required. Even though snow does help when blood trailing, there is no reason to take anything less than a perfect shot. High-percentage broadside or quartering-away shots are still required, and remember to pick the best shot and accept nothing less.

*Winter bow hunting means being motionless and quiet. Watch the deer, and move only when the animal is preoccupied with something else. Demand nothing but the highest degree of skill from yourself, and always strive for a clean killing shot. Often, at this time of year, there will be a number of deer moving through on deer trails or coming to a bait site, and the hunter must be ready at any time for a shot.

*You know, I haven’t killed a buck yet this year. It doesn’t bother me because my idea of taking one means shooting something that pleases me. I have no need to shoot a small buck, and would rather shoot a doe fawn than a small antlered buck.

I’ve passed up 29 bucks so far this year within my preferred range of 15 yards. There were some 8-pointers, and one nine-point, and a raft of smaller bucks. None suited me for many different reasons.

This sort of thing has happened before, and the season may play out without me taking a buck. It doesn’t bother me. I hunt to satisfy myself, and a kill isn’t what gets it for me. I hunt to be out there in good and bad weather, and if or when the right opportunity presents itself, I’ll shoot.

Until then, I keep hunting. You see, there is no pressure on me to shoot a deer. There have been a very large number of deer taken over 50+ years, and one more isn’t important unless it satisfies an inner need that even I can’t describe but I’ll know it when I see it.

Posted by Dave Richey on 12/01 at 02:12 PM
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