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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Hard-hunting and the heat

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Despite the incredible heat, I’m planning on taking advantage of the archery-whitetail season opener in South Florida’s Zone A, as determined by our Florida Wildlife Commission. The season down there, opens on Saturday, July 30th and allows for the harvest of whitetail deer of either sex, buck or doe. Personally, I prefer the bald headed ones; doe’s offer better quality dining as the meat is always tender.

Since it’s archery season, I’ll be toting a bow and arrow, a takedown recurve I recently acquired from Golddiggers and Gunslingers in Inverness. I’ve shot it a bit and am greatly impressed with the little bow, but I need new arrows and broadheads. The only place you can get custom made arrows for a traditional bow, is right here in Hernando County. Masaryktown actually, at Three Rivers Outdoors and Archery, for a traditional archer or bowhunter they have what you need.

Hunting with a bow and arrow is a short range sport. Even more so with traditional wooden bows. I know several traditional archers who are way more accurate than I am at extended distances, but my personal range to take a shot when hunting is only fifteen yards. It’s what one of my bowhunting mentors, Marion R James, calls “hunting the hard way.” MR, as I’ve always known him, should know about hard hunting, having taken up the sport in the later nineteen-fifties and after having circumnavigated the globe, bow in hand, many times over, has been inducted into the Bowhunting Hall of Fame.

The hard way though…. getting to within spitting distance of a wild deer and placing an effective shot on that deer without it ever being made aware of your presence. The most important tool for that is patience. That can’t be stressed enough. Even if I could walk fast and cover a lot of ground in the woods, I wouldn’t. There’s no hurry as the deer aren’t wearing watches or operating on a firm schedule. Maybe being a fat, old man with a gimpy leg is to my advantage, it forces me to move slowly and purposefully.

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The heat is going to be a huge factor in this hunt. Hydration is key for me. Along with a handful of other essential gear, I’ll be carrying at least two quarts of water in my day pack. Both of the quart bottles I’ll freeze overnight and sip on the melted ice often. Any time I stop, I pick a spot in the shadows with an object larger than myself to help blend. I’ll move slow as molasses as I take my sips and keep my eyes scanning upwind for any sign of movement. Sometimes, during my breaks, I can spot the twitch of an ear or the subtle turn of the head of a bedded deer and from that point, I can plan my approach. Hunting the hard way may indeed be hard, but it sure beats the heck out of staying home!

I surely thank you for reading along with me each week and as always, if you have any feedback, give me a shout at [email protected]. God Bless and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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