As the evening sun cants further to the south and the days grow shorter my thoughts wander along the glorious trails of past hunts. Lessons learned, glorious triumphs, and humbling defeats handed to me by wise old gobblers and skulking bucks.
Such were the memories brought to the surface today as I rummaged through a box of old pictures. It was a treasure trove of deer, turkey, and fish photos I hadn’t seen for quite sometime and it was almost like running into an old friend. As I thumbed my way through the stack it gave me a good deal of satisfaction to realize that I’d had a pretty successful hunting and fishing career, granted the bucks weren’t monsters but they were numerous and fine dining. My harvest didn’t happen just because of some phenomenal skill or entirely on account of luck, it was the result of many hours spent in the woods and doing the leg work required to make educated guesses.
Scouting is key to positioning a bowhunter for an opportunity to be successful. Knowing what to look for and what the sign means, a strategy of wind directions with alternate approaches to an area, all the stuff we relish as the challenge.
A savvy hunter can take advantage of younger bucks in the early season before they realize they are being hunted and become spooky. When pressured they may and go fully nocturnal or leave the area. True the rut may be at least a month away, but at dusky dark immature bucks will get up and be available for your viewing pleasure, especially in farm country where there are several smaller woodlots and brushy fence lines connecting rowcrop fields such as beans and corn. They form bachelor groups through the late summer, as your trailcams will show, and remain together through the warm days of September.
Five or six young bucks can leave a lot of sign, a particularly telling thing to look for is hooked bushes where they polish antlers and strengthen there necks for the coming mating season. Once you have located them, odds are good they won’t venture far from the area, provided they are in close proximity to crops, water, and aren’t being boogered.
For an evening hunt I like to cut deer off coming from their bedding area, usually brush or woods. I find that deer like to frequent the edge of bean fields of an evening so I get in their way. You stand a much better chance at seeing a buck while they are running together as opposed to being scattered out, the down side is there are more eyes to catch you drawing on them.
Tune up your bow, do your scouting, plan your wind strategy, and take advantage.