By Dave Echterling and James McKenzie
October is a favorite time of year for most bowhunters. In addition to hunting, many of us spend every spare second in the woods looking for rubs, scrapes, and general signs. There is nothing better than a fall afternoon in the woods.
Deer hunting is an ever changing challenge. Just because one spot was good last year does not necessarily mean that it will be a productive area the next. Remember, deer patterns can change rapidly. Just as soon as we think we have them figured out, hunting pressure can cause deer habits to change very quickly. Early gun seasons before bow season and youth firearm seasons can contribute to this change in deer habits. So it’s important to keep your options open, be observant, and not get complacent.
Let the wind dictate your stand choice for a morning or evening hunt. Always be on the downwind side of travel routes. Never risk sitting in a stand with a questionable wind. If the wind is wrong wait for more favorable conditions. On days with unfavorable wind conditions, you might want to find a new stand location or set up a ground blind. Fence rows can be ideal locations for ground blinds, as they are frequent travel paths for deer. Even a perch in between the branches of a downed tree can work well in a pinch. Always be on the lookout for new stand locations. As deer habits change do not be afraid to adjust with them.
Another thing you might consider is to not use a cover scent. A Hunter’s Hack that some have found works very well, is to carry three film canisters, each having a cotton ball in them soaked with doe urine. Place each one about ten yards from the tree, always in a shooting lane because there is a probability that a deer will stop and smell one or two. This will hold their attention and possibly allow you to get a shot off. It is also something new, and deer, being curious animals, will tend to check it out. When you leave the woods take the canisters with you. You may find this is a lot better than placing scent on the ground and leaving it, or using it as a cover scent. Even if it does cover your scent you still have a smell and deer will stop to investigate rather than fleeing.
It is good practice to always carry a blunt tip. When you get ready to leave your tree stand, pick a leaf to shoot at. This keeps you in tune, provides confidence, and improves your shooting from an elevated position.
If it’s a rainy day with a swirling wind try hunting from the ground and spend some time stalking. The woods is noisy during a rain shower and deer tend to typically take cover at these times. The noise also helps drown out any sounds you make. Cornfields are also great during windy and rainy weather. You just need to slowly move from row to row looking both ways one row at a time. Always use this time for a little scouting too. See where the deer are moving and if patterns are changing. You might even take the opportunity to still hunt on the way to your stand locations. You never know what you might encounter. The important thing is to not limit yourself.
As deer season progresses toward the rut, the ability to be flexible and think outside of the box can make or break your hunt. But whatever your preference, the most important thing is that you get out in the woods, enjoy nature, and experience the hunt.