The Seasons are Open and the Hunt Is On


The deer seasons are once again upon us and all the preparation is over—this is the real thing. Up until now, you have probably been preparing your equipment and doing some intense shooting at a deer silhouette or a picture of a nice buck. Honing your shooting skills with this kind of target can help keep the deer anatomy fresh in your mind when that opportunity for a clean kill presents itself.

But one of the things that can throw a bowhunter off his game is the first shot that presents itself.

We’re all anxious for that first one, but are you prepared for it if it comes at a time you least anticipate?

You get into your treestand the first morning, and 20 minutes later, a deer comes along and presents you with a good shot. It’s a nice doe, and the distance it perfect to make a clean shot. If you make this shot, your season has been a satisfying one already only into the first few hours of the opener.

In another scenario, a “successful” hunt for you may be harvesting a white-tailed buck of at least eight points. Now, back to the first scenario with the doe, the decision is simple: a good shot at the doe is not what you are looking for and you pass on this shot and continue your hunt. For the day and possibly deep into the season, until the shot you are looking for presents itself, you are staying with hunting only your intended target.

If you make the decision on what you want to hunt before you head out afield, you will be more prepared to be more patient. However, this decision often presents another problem. If you are willing to pass on any old shot and are looking for a specific shot, this will more often than not mean you’re potentially going to be in the field looking for the intended target for a longer part of the season without necessarily getting the exact shot you’re looking for.

If this happens, you are going to have to go to your “Plan B.”

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You may have to abandon your original plan. You may feel that possibly, after two or more weeks of the season have passed, any buck or any other deer will have to do. Now, the main plan will present a clearer, simpler thought process to your hunting style and planning and you can go on from there.

A simple, set hunting plan can also mean enriching the total experience, and not just a great shot.

A good fried of mine made the decision that no matter the deer, he was not going to shoot; he loved everything about hunting except the kill. So, he would faithfully sit in his treestand, and if a good shot presented itself, he would simply wait it out. He was an excellent shot and could have made the kill, but that was not what he wanted. If you asked him at the end of the season how well he did he would tell you how many deer he could have nailed with a clean shot. He was happy, and that is what counts.

Of course, this is definitely not for everyone, but it makes the point that you can prepare yourself physically and mentally long before you find yourself in a deer blind and a shot presents itself that you were not prepared for.

And speaking of spending a lot of time in a treestand, that brings up another matter you should make sure all is well beforehand. If you spend a lot of time afield early in the season, remember it’s fall and you can find yourself in the rain often. You need to be prepared for the elements while sitting in a treestand during those slogging October rainstorms, and the kind of shot you were preparing and looking for finally comes. Make sure you are dedicated enough to sit tight and undetected in a driving rain, and second, have the gear on that will keep you comfortable and dry in such conditions. If you don’t quite know if you can or if it’s been a while since you’ve done this, you still have time to prepare yourself.

There are many scenarios that require mental toughness. You have to think about this now while at your kitchen table long before you find yourself out in the field. If you haven’t done your homework long before you’re out you may find yourself with too many last-minute decisions, and without that “Plan B,” which may not lead to the best hunting experience.

Deer, by their very nature, will give you a lot of different situations in a hunt where you will have to make adjustments quickly, but at least many of these changes and any unforeseen conditions can be worked out ahead of time.