Archery only season has come to an end here in Zone C, as defined by our stewards at the Florida Wildlife Commission. I’ve enjoyed a fantastic month of bow and arrow freezer filling. To be sure, there’s a lot of hunting season left before us and I’ll be taking advantage of a good portion of what’s left to fill my freezers with enough organic protein to see me throughout the upcoming year.
As I sit tonight, the harvest report carries two rack bucks and two fat sows. Not a bad place to be so early yet in the season. I posted such on social media and it opened a conversation between myself a few bowhunters who are new to the sport; they wanted to learn a sure-fire way to increase their own success on the hunt. My only answer was that there are no real shortcuts to a full freezer, that bowhunting is a sport that can take years of lessons to earn your success.
One bit of advice I offered them, was simply to, “get out of the tree.”
“What do you mean, a blind?” I was asked.
I explained that the only thing you are learning is how to walk to a stand, get up in the stand, and hope a deer walks by you the same time you are in the stand. But, the deer heard you and saw you, and you never knew it. The deer smelled you from a hundred yards out and you never knew it. You can only learn from the deer that you see or encounter firsthand. While you are sitting in a tree, you are losing encounters to learn from. I suggested that if they would go out to learn deer, their patterns, and habits, they will become better. Yes, you can learn stand hunting but you do not learn how to become a better deer hunter.
I then said you have to be willing to pay your dues to become better. You have to learn how to walk silently in the woods and fields. You have to learn how to move without being seen. You have to learn to see what is there and not move. You have to learn how to hear with all the noise around you. You have to be willing to put yourself at a disadvantage to learn how to make it an advantage. I tried to explain that killing deer does not make you better at deer hunting; becoming intimate with the deer and their environment does.
Saturday begins the season for muzzleloading. I don’t often participate, as we’re allowed to continue hunting at this time with a bow and arrow as well, but this year, I’ll be going afield with an ancient Kentucky flintlock rifle from the late 19th century, I inherited. I’m looking forward to letting that old.45 Caliber blow some smoke, just one more time. I’ll let you know how I do.
As always, if you have any questions or comments on this week’s column, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!