December 08, 2022
If I were in charge, I’d have a fairly long list of things I'd like to see changed. At the very top of that list ... the month of November. Specifically, the month is far too short. The greatest of deer-hunting months should last at least three times as long. But, of course, I’m in charge of almost nothing, so we are left with but a few short weeks to take advantage of this deer hunting nirvana. Sadly, like just about every other bowhunter, I have to work for a living and, for me, that's essentially a 9-to-5 gig plus as many side hustles as I can fit in to cover the cost of college for two kids.
Vacation time is limited and weekends never last long enough. But that's the time I have and that’s the time I put to use. To complicate things a bit, I am seldom content to simply hunt the bucks that hang around where I live. No, I want to pack as much into November as possible, so I'll typically juggle time between several states.
My approach is simple: Spend as many hours in a productive hunting location as I can. All-day sits are hardly a new concept in the hunting world and there is no denying that bucks are roaming during the midday hours when the rut is really rocking. Staying on stand all day is also one of those things that sounds much easier to do than it really is. I get bored easily. Yes, even when hunting.
When I'm not seeing deer, I see that opportunity slipping away. It makes it hard for me to stay put in a location. It makes me want to force the issue and bounce around. That almost always results in time lost and a less-than-effective outcome.
Being in the woods every minute of daylight maximizes my time and opportunity. But it is hard to do. So, I’ve adopted an "almost-all-day" mantra that keeps me in the woods while still maintaining a level of fun.
If feasible, I'll be in my stand about 45 minutes prior to legal shooting hours. Once settled in, I have a set "stop" time. That time can be extended, but it cannot be shortened. That's the key to this whole thing. I cannot give myself the option of leaving because, if I'm not seeing deer, I will bail. Time and time again my lack of patience has cost me and by making a set timeline for the day, I can manage the hours more effectively.
I know from experience that once 10 a.m. hits, the next few hours can be very slow indeed. That's exactly why most hunters leave the woods by 11 a.m. I set a hard deadline of 1:30 p.m. I can't leave prior to that time. If I’m seeing deer activity or there is a reason for me to stay longer, I can extend the timeline, but never shorten it.
When 1:30 hits, I bail and head for my vehicle. It’s time for a break and a reset. Just the quick change in venue is enough to get me focused again. If it's cold, I warm up in the truck and dry gloves, socks, or whatever is needed on the dash vents. And, of course, I dive into whatever food I've brought along.
Make no mistake, I will bring food. In fact, I keep a well-stocked cooler in my truck throughout the month of November, so I’m always prepared. The goal here is a quick diversion to break up the monotony and get myself looking forward to the rest of the day. I'll be back in a tree no later than 3 p.m.
Oftentimes I'll change locations for the second half of the day. Again, there is no time to waste. The places deer hang around during the first half of the day are usually the same ones they hit when moving from the spots they frequent in the evenings.
Changing locations offers a change of scenery that can rekindle enough excitement to stick it out for the long haul. (Admittedly, when it’s really slow I’ll sometimes hunt one stand until about 10 a.m. then jump down and hustle to a second stand until 1:30 p.m.) The goal is to spend as much time in the November woods as possible. While there, I will stay focused and alert if I'm able to battle back boredom and know that I’m in the most productive areas I have to hunt.
This is accomplished by planning my days and spending my time in the woods wisely. Breaking the day up is enough to keep things fresh.