Does Seeing a Shooter Now Really Matter?

(Jeremy Flinn photo)

If you are anywhere near social media during this time of year, the velvet is flying. Bucks from across the country are posing in front of millions of trail cameras. For some, it’s a start to the bucks we hope to see during the season, but for others, it’s the “one” we’ve been waiting for. It’s almost like watching a good boxing or MMA fight. You have to wonder if coming out of the gates so early and good we may have burnt ourselves out before the real fight, the season, begins.

Think of it this way. For many of us we have a month before we get into the stand. With most bucks still humming along on their summer routines, we know a lot will change between now and then. So there’s a chance the buck could disappear, often what people associate with the “fall lull.” There’s also a chance his home range will just expand and he will remain on your property, just for a lesser percentage of his time.

Personally, as much as I want to see big bucks starting as early as mid-July, I’d rather not see them until just before the season starts. I’ve experienced both, and it always seems the later I first see shooters in the summer or fall, the more likely I am to have a chance at tagging him.

I grew up in the heavily hunted state of Pennsylvania. I was fortunate enough to have access to what I always considered the best 60 acres of deer hunting in the county. Well to most it would seem that way. It was about as reliable as the rise and set of the sun to see some big bucks in August roaming the crop fields. However, as the season drew closer, the bucks became fewer.

After the first week or so of the season it was often completely void of any shooters. Why? The 4 weeks between the late August buck parades and the opening of the season, also correlated with a lot of changes in food, cover, and behavior. It also left me with tag soup a lot.

On the opposite spectrum is my new Kansas lease. Although it will likely lead to a great season, I have yet to get a shooter on camera. They are there for sure, as big bucks have been spotted around neighboring farms, but they haven’t shown up once on my lease.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t twitching over it, but like last year it was nearly the opening day of bow season before the first two shooters showed. And it would be another month before the two biggest ones showed up. One of which I arrowed in late December. So am I worried? Of course, I need to see a shooter soon. But, from history on the property, I know patience will likely pay off and the big shooters will begin to show soon.

So is it important to see a shooter right now? Maybe it is for your sanity, but in terms of better harvest opportunities, the closer to the season opener the better.

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