Saturday, February 23, 2008

Always Trust Your Hunting Instincts

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It may be quite some time before we start really thinking about deer hunting but this is a key tactic to remember. Second-guessing yourself ruins more chances for a shot at a whitetail buck than anything else other than getting winded or being seen moving by an approaching buck.

The following problem happens every year to bow hunters. They have a choice of two spots to hunt where the wind is in their favor, and on any given day, both stands can produce.

The big question is: which stand will be the better choice? This is a situation where a hunter must learn to trust his hunting instincts.

But we waffle back and forth. This stand or that stand? Our instinct is to sit in Stand A because over the years it has produced bucks for us, and the way the stand is set up, the bucks approach from the side giving us a broadside or even a quartering-away shot.

On the other hand, Stand B also has produced bucks but we often have to wait for them to turn, and the deer often arrive within minutes of the end of legal shooting time.

This exact same situation faces me every day. I have nearly a dozen stands scattered around on my land and other properties I hunt. All are productive or they are pulled and placed elsewhere. I can hunt wherever I want on my ranch so the only person I can argue with is myself.

I’ve learned to solve this problem. I don’t bother flipping a coin for Heads or Tails, here or there. I ask myself one simple question: What does my gut instincts say?

Weighing the pros and cons of a stand location, and trying to argue the fine points of each one is mostly a waste of time. Pin yourself down, ask yourself the hard question: which one turns me on tonight?

If your gut instincts say Stand A is the one, than any further deliberations usually means more wasted brain cells and time. Get up the tree or in the ground blind, sit down and wait for a buck to show up for his date with destiny.

There are times when various circumstances may force further deliberation. If you are hunting late afternoon and early evening, and the stand faces west, looking into a bright setting sun can make shooting a buck rather iffy.

However, I prefer facing or quartering west in the morning and facing or quartering east in the evening. Although this isn’t always practical or possible, whenever it is, I follow this philosophy so the rising or setting sun is behind me. It also helps to light up the deer and make them much easier to see.

A gut check is always in order when the choice is a ground blind or tree stand. Mentally, so no one will see you, raise your hand if hunting from high in a tree bothers you. A check of your gut instincts will tell you that the ground blind is the better choice.

People who quiver when hunting from a tree should stay on the ground where they belong. Fess up to the fear, if it exists, and head for the ground blind. Choosing a ground blind over a tree stand is a gut-check situation, and it never pays to second-guess yourself. Besides, I’ve never heard of someone breaking their back or neck by falling out of a ground blind.

Hunting instincts are a great thing. It takes some time to develop them, but after a period of years while hunting in a wide variety of situations, most hunters learn to pay heed to what their instincts tell them.

I’ve trusted mine for five decades, and it’s amazing how often your gut instincts will help you shoot a deer. Pay close attention to what these instincts tell you, and don’t start to second-guess them.

Remember in high school and college when exams were taken? A multiple-choice question with three or four choices. Almost invariably, your first choice was right. If you marked that as being correct, and then began second-guessing yourself, you would promptly erase that answer and choose another. Most times the second choice was wrong.

It’’s not much different when deer hunting. Listen to what your body and mind tells you, and if there is a shadow of a doubt in your mind, it’s time to make your first choice your final choice.

Very seldom will you make a serious mistake in the deer woods if you follow this philosophy. 

Posted by Dave Richey on 02/23 at 04:21 PM
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