I catch myself reading every article telling me about the perfect time to hunt Whitetail Deer. If you are like me and do the same, let me save you some time. You ready? The answer is: Anytime, Always, Now, and Whenever You Can… especially for those of us who have a job to go to, a house to maintain, children to take care of, and a Honey-Do List the size of my leg.
I am salesman for a metal finishing supply company and my job does not end at five o’clock when I leave. With today’s technology, I’m basically always on the clock. Don’t get me wrong, from October first to December fifteenth, the house, my truck, my garage, and all other chores get shoved to the wayside. But when I hear things like “Hunter Smarter not Harder” or “Only Hunt These Days at This Time” or “Hunt the Moon Phase”, it kind of drives me nuts. My advice? JUST HUNT. I hunt during deer season as much as possible. My whole year revolves around it. Whether it’s for the last few hours after work, on the weekend, in the morning before my wife leaves for work, four day long camping/hunting trips, or any little chunk of time available, that’s when I’m hunting. I’m not going to sit on my couch or back at camp just because conditions aren’t “perfect.”
I get it, deer activity increases during certain weather patterns, moon phases, time of day, in the rut, and so on. All that is doing is increasing your odds of seeing deer. But that is not saying it is the ONLY time you are going to see deer. Who’s to say another hunter isn’t going to spook a buck on his way home to eat lunch; or a buck is going to attempt to cross a road and an oncoming car changes it from its normal pattern; or a tree falls near a buck’s bed and forces it to get up; or a dog barks; or a predator wanders through; etc. A percentage of success is based on hunting certain times and studying deer patterns, but another chunk of that percentage is pure luck, and being in the right place at the right time.
Studies have shown that deer are similar to humans in that their personality differs from one to another. You have introverts and extroverts. Studies involving tagged whitetails show that some stay within a 10 acre plot their whole lives, while some travel miles and counties. Some deer are fully nocturnal, while some cruise during the day. Some deer stay in dense cover, while some hang out in fields or lawns eating easy grass. There is the typical big buck behavior, but again, that’s just one piece of the puzzle.
October 15th, 2011- It was opening day of archery season in New York. My brother and I planned on hunting the afternoon. Afternoon came and it was raining, windy, and cold. Cody, my brother, kept bugging me to go out with him. I said, deer are laying down, it’s too windy for an arrow to fly straight, and it’s raining so we shouldn’t go out. He bugged me and bugged me and finally I agreed to go. I sat in a stand that set in a pine tree fifteen yards off a field. I’m usually the guy who sits perfectly still, but since I thought I wouldn’t see anything, I’m standing up, stretching, playing on my phone, and just bummed out thinking I’m wasting time. Twenty minutes after getting to my stand, I’m standing up and out of the corner of my eye I see antlers. Not twenty yards away from me a BIG eight point steps out into the field. He stops broadside with a basketball size gap in the trees right on his vitals. I grab my bow, draw back, and placed that arrow perfectly in the gap to make a perfect heart shot. I called my brother, my dad, and my grandpa and we enjoyed the recovery together.
Moral of the story- The rut hadn’t kicked into high gear yet, it was rainy, super windy, and still 2 hours before dark. All signs pointed to me not seeing a single deer that night, and yet I harvested my biggest buck to date. That was a huge eye opener. I don’t care if I’m seeing deer or not, I’m enjoying every second I can be in the woods, where I feel at home and at peace. So I encourage you too, to get out there, enjoy the wilderness, and hunt for the love of hunting and being in the outdoors.