Hunting season ended a half hour past sunset December 15th at 4:41PM with me in my climbing tree stand 30 feet up in the below pictured hickory tree with an unfilled tag. No Deer harvested after a 4 month long archery season in the woods. However I did have several opportunities and many beautiful wildlife sightings this year. It seems every time I go out in the woods I see something or experience something that makes the time spent totally worth it.
View from up in the climber:
I have two tree stands, one that is fixed and one that is portable and can climb trees. My fixed stand was on a Beech Tree 18 feet high.
Exciting experiences included having a bear walk by my fixed tree stand without noticing me, and having to walk by a Bull Moose in full rut mode while exiting the woods. Another experience I had was with a certain buck that I had been keeping track of and had seen on my game camera. Below is a video of him and a lesser buck. (Both are beautiful Deer)
I tried to focus a lot this year on being more aware of signs of domain establishment and the section of woods I was primarily hunting for the above deer had scrape marks on pretty much every tree. One day in mid-November I had stuck my climber on a tree in the middle of a bunch of recent sign and decided to come back the next day. The next day I walked into my tree stand from the opposite direction as originally planned because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction as usual and I didn’t want my scent to proceed me. As I approached I came over a little rise and found 4 deer standing in a semi-circle facing me, 3 were does and one was the buck I had been looking for. Before I could process which one was the buck and draw back my bow, all 4 deer took off through the woods at mock speed.
The next day it was pouring rain so I decided to revisit the area. As I approached the same area I looked on the ground and nearby an area that had been disturbed I found an antler that had been torn off during a fight. I took it home with me but never saw the deer in that area again.
I learned quite a bit more this year about whitetail behavior and patterns and have developed quite a lot of respect for just how adaptable and elusive they can be when they are aware of you as a predator. As a hiker I see deer quite frequently and have noticed that they seem to be much more comfortable with me while just passing through than when I’m out hunting.
Remarkably this hunting season was very warm with no snow fall. Many times it was actually warm enough to not even wear gloves. I’m not sure how much this affected the patterns of the deer but it sure seemed that they would only come out after dark on the warm days. I ran my camera a few times near my stand and sure enough my favorite buck would come marching by at 6:30pm every night, 2 hours past legal hunting time.
Another lesson learned this year was how much more respect I have for someone who can get a deer with an arrow than someone with a gun. With archery so many more things have to come together just right in order to take a proper shot. My primary reason for hunting is for meat, and really I would have been happy to have just stocked my freezer at some point this year with either a gun or an arrow, but after this year I realize that I really do love archery way more than firearms and that it’s so much more of an accomplishment to harvest a deer that way. And preparing for next year this is where I will focus my efforts.
I will also begin scouting earlier and as this mild winter continues I will take advantage of the lack of snow to explore more sections of forest nearby to be ready for next September 15th. Scouting is becoming one of my favorite hobbies. I like scouting in a way more than hunting because I never carry a weapon for self-defense, for one it’s much more exciting to be out in the woods on the animals turf on their terms when you don’t have a weapon and secondly I think you carry yourself in a different manner when armed even if your not hunting, and you give off less of a predatory vibe that the animals can sense when unarmed, but primarily I like it because without a weapon it becomes more like being a hiker, but without trails, and hiking is still my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors.