Today is a long-awaited day for area archers and crossbow hunters because that marks the first of the upcoming deer seasons and a chance to bag a fine buck or fat doe.
It’ll be a good chance, too, because the deer herd is in excellent shape and there are fair numbers of animals waiting in nearby woodlots, creek bottoms, grassy swales and light thickets. If there’s a problem, it’s that they can be tough to bag during opening weeks.
Much of this coming month is going to be just great, weather-wise. It’ll be cool and pleasant, sunny with blue skies surrounding white cumulus clouds, and light breezes with the scent of fox grapes and ripe apples, burning leaves and wood smoke. It’s a marvelous time to hunt, but unfortunately deer don’t move much in such weather, at least during daylight hours.
They’re nocturnal feeders and when weather is pleasant and stable, will often not leave their bedding areas until full dark, then feed leisurely during the night and be back in those bedding areas before dawn. So, if you catch them out at all it’ll be for just a half hour or so after first light and maybe a half hour or so before full dark. Which means most dedicated archers are going to spend long wasted hours in that tree stand just watching squirrels gather nuts and chipmunks frisk around.
But veteran archers have an answer to the problem, because they know a simple fact: bad weather is good weather. Top times this month will be cloudy, windy days, and if there’s a little sleet or it’s spitting rain, though not a serious downpour, so much the better. They’ll stay out an extra hour or so after dawn then, and sometimes return to feed several hours before full dark. There are always exceptions, but that is the usual whitetail game plan.
Next decision is when should you hunt, mornings or evenings? Some hunters have no choice, because their work schedule demands one or the other, but those who can choose might prefer evenings. At least, I do, and for several good reasons. If you head out around 4 p.m., there’s usually plenty of time to move around and select a ground stand or climb into your tree stand while animals are still bedded down. And that makes you Johnny on the spot when deer start to travel.
Hunt during the morning hours and you’ll be out there before daylight, stumbling around in the dark with a flashlight and making plenty of noise, even if your stand is already waiting. The deer are still up and moving then, you’re likely to spook anything with smelling or hearing range, and they won’t forget. You’ll get deer in the morning, and I have, but it’s tougher.
There are some con arguments to augment the pros, and one is that if a deer is wounded during a morning hunt, you have all day to track it. That’s true. The other side of the coin for evening hunts is that if you wing one, you’ll be tracking it after dark, or nearly so. That’s true too, but in my experience, it’s not important. Blood fluoresces under a flashlight beam, and once or twice I’ve tracked an animal until 10 or 11 p.m. And found it.
Finally, if you’ve a full day free for hunting, don’t just concentrate on the early hours of morning and before dark. As October progresses, and the rut makes its first beginnings, bucks will often leave their beds around noon and nose around for an hour or so. A friend who traditionally hunts from his tree stand all day long, said. “You wouldn’t believe how many bucks I’ve seen between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.” That can be a good time.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Deer archery season opens statewide today and area archers will this year enjoy lower-priced antlerless deer permits. Hunters who purchase an Ohio hunting license and $24 deer permit will be eligible to buy a new $15 antlerless permit, which replaces the urban deer permits and is valid today through Nov. 25. “The intent of the reduced price antlerless deer permit is to focus additional pressure on the antlerless segment of the population. By limiting the use of the antlerless deer permit to the first two months of the season, the division can safely evaluate it as a management tool,” said Mike Tonkovich, deer biologist. State law allows hunters to take only one antlered buck per year.
n About 300,000 bowhunters are expected to participate in the statewide archery deer season. During last year’s four-month archery season, bowhunters killed 67,912 deer, an increase of 13 percent from the previous year. Crossbow hunters took 38,489 of that number, and longbow hunters bagged a record 29,423 deer. Overall, archers accounted for nearly 29 percent of 237,316 deer taken during Ohio’s combined seasons.
n Hunters who like to wing shoot, have a youngster that needs experience, or a bird dog that should have pre-season practice will find more than 1,000 bird hunting preserves on the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Wingshooting USA. The site offers not only preserves and directions, but tips on preserve shooting, new recipes and proper hunting gear. To visit the site, see www.wingshootingusa.org.
n Hunters are preparing for Ohio’s upcoming fall wild turkey season, which runs Saturday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 28. The 16-day season is followed by the fall archery-only wild turkey season, which opens Monday, Oct. 29 and ends Sunday, Nov. 25. Thirty-seven counties are open for fall turkey hunting. Fall wild turkey hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset during the 16-day regular fall turkey season and one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset during the archery-only season. The bag limit is one turkey of either sex per hunter per season.