If your days to go bowhunting are limited, make the most of your time with these smart tactics.
Sometimes a tree stand is nothing more than an expensive paperweight.
There is an ongoing debate among bowhunters about how aggressive we should be with our bowhunting strategies. Most commonly we opt to never push it. Until the rut. This works great if you lease and manage a couple of sections in prime country, but not so much for most public-land hunters.
If you've got a spot you want to hunt, hunt it — but hunt it smart. Play the wind, think about how you'll get into and out of your stand or blind, and plan accordingly. Most of us only have a few weekends each fall, and maybe a couple of days or so of vacation time to burn.
That's not much, and when you factor in what can go wrong, that number shrinks exponentially. Because of this, make the most of your time and set your go-to stands and blinds up the way they need to be. Cut shooting lanes if you can, and tack your trail to get in and out without stumbling around in the dark.
If you're on public land, use a lightweight stand and stick system to keep things easy and stealthy. If you aren't happy with your deer sightings, keep moving. Most hunters become married to a few locations and they talk themselves into hunting there no matter what. There's a host of factors that might have bucks moving in other locations.
CHANGE IT UP
Keep watching and keep moving. My strategy in September, October and November — particularly on public land — is to give a stand one morning and evening.
If I felt like I did things right and didn't blow the spot out but still didn't see anything during two sits, I pull my stand and move. If the deer are using a spot that isn't conducive to tree stand bowhunting, I bring in a ground blind or build a natural ground blind.
Last fall I killed two bucks on public land out of ground blinds, the biggest of which was just shy of 150 inches, in places where tree stands were nothing more than expensive paperweights. The bigger buck fell victim to a well-placed ground blind during a rainstorm, while I harvested the smaller buck because I made an impromptu natural blind.
The best way to take an aggressive approach is to adopt the mindset that you've got nothing to save for later. Too many of us fall into the rut-trap where we don't hunt earlier in the season, in order to save our best stuff for when the hunting should be easiest. Again, with prime ground this is a great strategy. If you're on pressured dirt . . . it's usually not.
Set yourself up to be able to hunt no matter the seasonal timing, weather conditions or moon phase. This might mean having a litany of ambush sites ready to go, which allows you to take advantage of likely deer movement. This might also mean that you've got to factor in longer sits and plan accordingly. The easiest way to give up on a morning and go into town for breakfast is to lose your confidence in a spot. Bring along a thermos of coffee and a bag of snacks in order to sit longer.
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