South reporter Eric Bruce related his second bow kill of the season, and in doing so revealed what I think is one of the most effective tactics for today’s deer hunter; the hang-and-hunt set. While it’s far less work, and therefore more enjoyable, to hunt from a stand that’s been hung in advance, those setups come with disadvantages: they’re not always located on the freshest sign, and even if they’re in a good spot, wind direction may not allow you to hunt them. Using a climbing stand, Eric was able set up on the hottest sign and arrow a buck that very night. I’ve killed some of my nicest bucks using this method (including the Dave Hurteau buck in September), though I usually employ a hang-on stand and steps or climbing sticks instead of a climber.
The mobility theme continued in David Draper’s report from the Great Plains, where he noted that Kansas hunter Nathan Oehlert had lost track of some nice bucks he had patterned in the early season. Oehlert found the bucks by taking some time off from the tree stand and simply driving around and glassing from his vehicle. Eventually he found the bucks in a new area and was back in the game. I’ve hunted Kansas many times and used this same technique, with great results.
Though we all don’t have the advantage of being able to spot deer readily from a vehicle, even hunters in more wooded habitats can mimic the technique. I call it “speed scouting” and it simply means covering as much good ground, as efficiently as possible until you’re on good deer sign again. Sometimes we’re just too married to stand sites that aren’t producing…because the deer simply aren’t there. This is especially true during the October “lull” period, when bucks are shifting toward changing food sources and not that interested in does.
Mid-South reporter Will Brantley and Northeast reporter Mike Bleech both posted reports that emphasize another critical skill, especially in the weeks ahead: calling deer. Brantley once again rattled in a buck on a recent bowhunt, and though he didn’t tag the animal, his faith in rattling brought in a deer he might not have seen without the technique. I’m convinced that hunters who don’t believe rattling works are usually not that persistent in their attempts. Remember, the mood of the deer (and also his personality) usually dictate whether he’ll come to horns. The same buck that ignored your attempt one day may come trotting in the next. Bleech stressed the importance of working a grunt call in his game plan, and even discussed the importance of practicing with a call and tuning it. Here again, belief in calling, matched with some skill in using the technique, can help you get close to deer.
Finally, we had two great harvest reports from reporters Holmes (West) and Ray (South Central). One thing that keeps jumping out at me about Western hunters is how folks who take the time to concentrate on whitetails there bring home some dandy bucks! And once again, knowledge of a hot, local food source–garbanzo beans, of all things!–yielded a fine trophy. And Ray’s neat story about a young lady shooting a beautiful chocolate-horned 9-point stressed, once again, why taking a youngster deer hunting is one of the most important things we can do!