To the outsider, it may seem like a lot of ado about nothing.
We packed our bags, loaded our gear in the truck and headed three hours north to our cabin. We spent the weekend preparing, scouting and getting ready for the big day. But, alas, when deer season opened, nobody told Lady Luck. I saw just one small spike buck and a lumbering bear on Monday.
Are we disappointed? No way.
That’s why the season is two weeks long. The best hunting is yet to come.
Too many hunters surrender after a day or two of fruitless hunting. Every year, some monster deer are harvested during the last few days of the hunt. The trick to bagging one of those deer is to never give up. After all, you cannot kill a deer if you are not in the woods.
Late-season deer hunting requires a different set of tactics. The pressure is on and the deer know it. Look for thick, low-lying areas where the deer have the visibility and the shelter they need to find protection from predators, namely the kind that wear blaze orange.
On opening day, feed plots and natural travel routes were keys to success. Now, after a week of hunters busting through the woods, successful hunters will be the ones that uncover and penetrate a smart buck’s hideout. The thicker and more difficult the terrain, the better.
Look for areas where you have seen little pressure from other hunters. If the road has deep ruts, keep looking. The deer have already been pushed out of the area. We have all seen the popular hunting locations. On the opening day, they look like a used-truck sales lot. Skip those stands.
They may have been good on Monday, but not anymore. You need to hit the areas most hunters were unwilling to hike. That often means hard work and lots of hiking. A big, second-week deer will be worth it.
Another late-season trick is to open your ears. Hunters love telling stories of the one that got away. Many hunters spend just the first day or two of the season in the woods. After that, it's back to work. Ask them where they were seeing deer during the first few days of the season and I am sure they would be more than eager to give you a few helpful hints. After all, they won’t be hunting again until next November.
You may not have a deer in the freezer just yet, but that does not mean you cannot have a successful season. We are still less than halfway through the firearms season. There are plenty of big bucks yet to come.
Keep at it and you’re sure to catch the eye of Lady Luck.
She loves persistence.
— Andy Snyder writes about outdoors. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org