Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gun Season & second half adjustments

With the start of Ohio's shotgun season upon us I've been thinking about the unfilled tags, and strangely empty freezer that taunts me each day I walk past it. I haven't participated in the gun season for the past few seasons due to work obligations. This year however, has the potential to enlist me back into the Orange Army, marching back to the deer woods, and taking part in the very hunt that started fueling the hunting fire that only seems to burn stronger with each season.

Without having a picture of this deer since August I had written him off. Hopefully I was wrong and he's coming back to winter on this property now.
Even with the possibility of getting out during the shotgun season, my thoughts can't help but fall back into the pattern of a bow hunter, what are the effects that gun season has on the deer herd, and how that will change the way I deer hunt for the second half of the game. Going back into the woods with your archery equipment after a weekend of the youth gun season, the full week long regular gun season, extra bonus shotgun weekend, and then mixing in muzzleloader season makes arrowing a whitetail extra challenging. So, I've been thinking about this in terms of a football game with the first half coming to a close at the end of the week long gun season. Going into the locker room, you know that some second half adjusts are going to be needed if those tags still need filled before the season comes to a close on February 5th.

The first halftime adjustment for me is going to be focusing on waterfowl hunting more. Now, what the heck does that have to do with deer hunting? Well, in order to give the deer woods a little bit of time to rest after the onslaught of hunting pressure that they're about to receive this week, I'm planning on backing off for a bit. The change in hunting pursuits will also give me some time to think about late season strategies even more, while recovering from bowhunting every chance I got during the entire month of November. After a few weeks have passed I'll be planning on putting my trail cameras back out to take an inventory of what deer are still around. With that camera placement in mind, putting the cameras on, or near the winter food sources is going to be the thought process and focus for my hunting efforts in the second half. Once the colder weather starts to roll in the deer will be moving to feed heavily for the approaching winter. Find the food, and hopefully I'll find the deer.

The second adjustment that I'm going to be making is more of a self-imposed one. I'll be setting up a few ground blinds on the hottest food sources that I can find at the close of gun season. Hopefully, by making this move at the close of gun season that will give the deer a few weeks to settle back down and get used to the blinds. The gun season will already have the deer stirred up quite a bit, so I think that making the change at this particular time will be less intrusive than waiting a few weeks for the woods to settle. My reasoning for setting the up blinds in the first place is to get my son involved in a few bow hunts before the close of the season. He's shown enough of an interest in going deer hunting now that I think he can start to be introduced to hunting from the ground as long as the conditions aren't too terrible. Time will tell.

The last adjustment to is be selectively and cautiously aggressive. The deer have been hunted since the end of September now, and although I feel that my archery hunting approach has had a very low impact (meaning I've only hunted a stand when the wind dictated, I've rotated stands & properties each hunt, stayed mobile, and have not had any deer blow me out yet) the deer have still been hunted in surrounding areas and will be on high alert from here on out. However this is no longer the time to sit on the edges and wonder about "What if?" I have to not be afraid to make an aggressive move at this point in the season. Again, these moves will need to be strategic, while still paying attention to detail (wind directions, entrance & exit routes, etc.), but when the opportunity seems to present itself, and the deer exhibit a killable pattern, I will hunt like the season closes tomorrow in order to try and fill the tags in my pack.

Hopefully the adjustments being made along with the continued thought process behind what the heck I'm doing will lead to a great second half come back this season. Right now I'm down, but there's no way that I'm out just yet. There's still plenty of ticks on the clock, and if I'm able to make the right moves with the time remaining in the game I have the confidence that success is always a possibility.

Not sure about this guy. He's a good looking deer but if he can make it through the season he'll be even better next season. Then again, if he walks by and I'm hungry...
I don't think this is the same buck pictured directly above, but again, he's probably tempting if walking within bow range during the second half. I wish I had some more pictures to look him over better.
Another good looking buck with some potential. I just don't know if the neighboring properties would let him develop another season. And I am getting hungry.

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