Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Think & Rely On Gut Instincts

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Gut feelings and instincts play an important role when hunting, and it took me several years to accept that my instincts and deep-down feelings are almost always right. Go back to your high school tests. Often, on tricky questions, your gut instincts provide you with the right answer

When my instincts tell me to try a different spot rather than my intended deer hunting stand, I now pay attention. If my gut feelings tell me that this particular stand is all wrong for this particular hunt, I pack up my gear and go elsewhere.

It wasn’t always that way. Many years ago I’d seen a guy sitting in the shadow of a huge root wad from a wind-topped oak. This was before tree stand hunting was legal in this state, and he killed a nice buck on opening day of the firearm season.

The next day I went back into the woods, and his little hotspot was empty. Fresh snow had fallen, and there were no deer tracks coming down the trail 50 yards away. Still I thought about sitting in that root wad, out of the wind, but a nagging thought kept saying: “Don’t do it!”

I moved off down the trail, and 200 yards later came to a point where two other side trails merged with the one I was on. I checked around, found a decent downwind spot 40 yards away. It was a natural blind, and required no work to fix it up. A fallen tree provided a place to sit, a nearby big tree provided a back rest, and scraggly brush was behind me. A bit of brush with numerous open holes lay in front of me. It was a stand made to order for me.

My butt hit the log, my back was against the upright tree, and I kicked snow and leaves out from underfoot so I could move slightly if there was a need. I was buck hunting, and it didn’t take long until three does and fawns came down one of the side trails, and minutes later deer came down the other off-shoot trail, but nothing came down the main trail from where the other gent shot his buck the day before.

I sat still, and 15 minutes later a fat 6-point came walking down one of the side trails, and walked past at 40 yards without realizing he had some nearby company. One shot from an old .35 Remington put that buck on the ground.

It was a hunch or a gut feeling, whatever you want to call it, but perhaps my instincts kicked in. All I can say is I had a feeling that if I sat where the other hunter had shot a buck that I wouldn’t see a deer. There wasn’t a single deer track moving on that trail. Yesterday’s gun fire put all the deer in the area on the other two trails, and my hunch had paid off.

Another time, only two years ago, the wind was right for two of my stands. My wife was in her stand, a friend was in his tree stand, and the wind was perfect for either one of the other two. I put a great deal of thought into choosing one over the other, and a coin toss would do but I wanted to take the element of chance out of my decision.

Finally I decided to hunt the one bow stand that had not been hunted that fall. The other stand had been used twice, once by me and once by another friend. Both are good, the wind is perfect for ether one, so my instincts told me to hunt the previously unhunted stand.

It turned out to be a wise choice. I’d been in the stand only 30 minutes, and even though deep in the edge of a tag alder run, it wasn’t dark but everything was shadowed. A soft rustle in the leaves alerted me to an approaching deer, and I sat and waited to see what would develop.

Two minutes later a fine 8-point eased out of the tags, and kept moving my way. The deer at this stand came from the upwind side of my stand, moved across in front of me on a trail 17 yards away, and I was ready.

The buck got to the right spot, and I was at full draw. I bleated softly once, and the buck stopped to look around, and the Maxima carbon arrow slid between his ribs. He ran 80 yards through the woods toward the field, and this would be a short drag.

Both bucks could have gone elsewhere but instead they went into my freezer. My gut feelings told me which decision to make, and those two times and countless others, my hunches have proved correct.

If you find yourself facing a choice, run them back and forth, and your instinct will invariably be correct. And one more thing: don’t second-guess your hunches. It usually leads to making a bad mistake.

Today’s deer hunter must learn to think things out. The days of saying “Oh, that tree looks great for a tree stand” is long gone. Know why and were deer trave, and that will supply you with enough factors to make the right decision some of the time.

No game plan works every time.

Posted by Dave Richey on 12/17 at 06:56 PM
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