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Whitetail Fever Continued

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Once you have done your work at home and in the field, you can decide what type of hunting technique you want to use. Some folks like to sit and wait, others prefer to stalk, and many more prefer a tree stand. Me, I prefer a tree stand with my compound bow or shotgun for a number of reasons. But stalk with my longbow and flintlock. I rarely sit very still and I suspect most hunters are the same way, so sitting at ground level is not a good option for me. I have discovered that I make too much noise as I stretch my tired (and old) limbs or move to get comfortable on hard, wet, or rocky ground. I imagine I am often heard by a deer way before I see them. Furthermore, there is something about being at ground level, when the bullets and arrows start to fly from other hunters, that makes me very uncomfortable.
Now, stalking is very difficult for all but the most experienced hunters under most circumstances. Often a stalker will jump big game and then have only a running shot at it, which is difficult to make and yet kill the animal cleanly and quickly. I suspect many "Texas Heart Shots" (in or up the rear side of the deer) are made by inexperienced stalkers. While stalking can be done, it takes a good eye, perfect timing (you must move forward when the animals head is down or turned away from you), and you should be prepared to freeze in position at any moment. Nope, this type of hunting is too much work for me, so I don't use it often. Nonetheless, I do keep my gun or bow ready at all times when I move on the ground. In a good quality tree stand, I can relax and do what I am there to do, watch the area for movement. I strongly suggest the use of a safety strap and harness at all times to avoid injury, because more than one hunter has gone to sleep and fallen from a tree, not to mention those who have just fallen for one reason or the other. My stand is very comfortable and I have found I move around less sitting in it than when I am on the ground. Another key consideration is that your scent and small noises are often masked, or carried overhead by the wind, which makes it harder for the animal to determine where you are. And, like most animals, deer will rarely look up because fewer threats are found there (in most states). Finally, make sure the area around you is clear enough to fire your weapon of choice and hit your target cleanly. I once missed a huge buck because my arrow struck a small branch on a bush and was deflected away from my intended target. From that point on, I made sure my "field of fire" was clear. Small limbs or brush can deflect even rifle bullets.
Agree with your hunting partners to meet back at your base camp at certain times of the day (lunch or dinner for example) for safety reasons mainly, though it can also be used as a time to discuss what has been seen or heard during the hunt. I have had many lunches were the movement of deer was discussed and it was always good information to know. Now, I usually hunt with a partner fairly close by and we always agree to climb from our tree stands at noon on the dot for lunch. We agree to this to avoid scaring game that may be near and as an added safety factor. If I expect the person at a certain time, then I am prepared for their arrival. I once had a nice buck sighted in when my hunting partner neared my stand at midmorning and scared the animal away, but I won't tell you what I said to him. Your partners still might scare game away if they arrive at a given time, but at least you'll know they're coming.
One area most hunters never consider is the campsite. Often we just find a good spot, put up a tent, build a fire, and then forget about it. I used to do exactly that, but not any longer. By doing both my homework and fieldwork, I now place my base camp away from where most of the deer travel (trails). I always will find a spot away from the animal's food, water, and shelter sources to make my camp. I have found it to my advantage not to stress the deer in the area by making my camp to close to where they move and bed down. Besides the normal camp, make sure you have a nice spot picked out well in advance where you will hang your big buck to do the skinning and bagging. Keep in mind you want a shaded area (warm or hot meat will turn bad quickly due to bacterial growth) and I prefer a big oak limb that I can throw a rope over to hoist my game up to make skinning easier. Then again, some folks prefer to wait and skin when they get home, so that choice is yours. I suggest you skin in the field to cool the meat quickly, but use a game bag in either case.
Once your animal is down for good, as soon as possible follow your states requirements for tagging. Some states require the tag on the horns, some on a leg, and the there may be others in different states, so know what your state requires. Failure to tag or mark your tag per your states game laws can cause you big legal problems, and I'm not even going to bring up what it might end up costing you in the long run. As quickly as I discover my animal is dead, I tag it before I do anything else. Tag and then start to work.
After you have got your animal back at camp and dressed, you need to discuss the situation with your hunting partners. If all were successful, then the trip home will be almost immediate, but if some have not done well so you may have to stay in camp a bit longer. Make sure you keep your animal completely covered with a game bag, hang it up and off the ground, and watch the temperature. If you have a vehicle parked near your hunting camp, then leaving will not be a problem, but if you backpacked in you might have some serious talking to do in order to get some assistance in getting your game home from the field. I have seen plastic sleds, portable carts with wheels, and other devices made for transporting game from the field and all may work, but unless I am on a fly-in hunting trip I usually hunt where my car is within a mile or so. The way you get your game from the field to waiting transportation is the individual hunter's choice, but I always put some international orange on the deer's horns and on the game bag for safety reasons (as well as wear it). Oh, and if required by your state do not forget to check your animal in.
As you can see, there are many things you can do before the hunt that can assist in making your trip a successful one. Rare is there a hunter who goes to a new area, climbs just any tree and bags a huge buck on the first day, though I have seen it done. Most good deer hunters start to work well before the season starts and they stay busy up until they down the big one. Remember to do both your homework and your fieldwork.
Mmm Mmmmmm I can smell the deer chili already.

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Updated 03-03-2008 at 03:16 PM by Beo