October 28, 2010
Setting Up A Midday Meeting With A Bruiser Buck
Being serious whitetail hunters, we're always looking for ways to improve our odds of successfully taking deer.
Do your scouting in the post-season when possible. Locate heavily used travel corridors, prepare stand sites and get ready for all-day hunting excursions when November rolls around.
We work extra hours, squirrel away vacation days, save money and purchase the best gear available. We spare no expense, making sure we have the latest and greatest in everything related to our pursuit of big bucks. If money can buy it, we'll try it.
Here's where the beauty of all-day hunting comes in. Anyone can do it! Not-to-mention the fact that all day hunting comes in at an extremely appealing price--free! Furthermore, if done properly, it can lift your success rate on mature bucks by an extremely worthwhile measure. For me at least, all-day vigils have upped my success on trophy bucks by about 25- to 30-percent. Is there anything that you can buy, or anything else you can do, that you know of that can accomplish this feat? If you answer "yes," to this question I'll give you my phone number and you can give me a call and clue me in to the news!
Another reason (probably the best reason) to sit in your stand all day is to simply enjoy God's great Creation. In the hustle-bustle world we live in every day, we should treasure every moment afield we can get, and the more the better. Time away from the rat race is invaluable, a commodity worth far more than even the largest set of antlers. If we can sit on a stand from before sunrise to after sunset with this perspective, the entire experience will become much easier. And when sitting in a tree stand all day becomes easier and more fun, amazingly, the reward of more and larger trophies will fall right into place equaling two birds killed with one stone.
Let's face some facts here. We wait all year for the peak of the breeding season. We've gained access to some quality habitat that supports a reasonable number of mature bucks. We make sure that we hunt the right locations, under the right conditions. With all of this going for us, we should get a chance at a good buck, right? Maybe; maybe not. After all, it's still a matter of time and luck. So what is the single greatest thing we can do at this point to swing the "good luck" odds in our favor? The answer is simple--all-day hunting.
As I've matured as an archery hunter of large-antlered bucks, nothing I've done has elevated my success rate more than remaining on stand all day. Of all my book bucks, fully one-quarter of them were harvested during midday times! In other words, I've killed five or six bucks that I would not have taken had I not remained on stand all day. What's that worth? Think about it. Hey, if you're a regular guy like me (no access to special privileges or places), this is a cheap way to run with the big dogs. Have you got the guts to get'er done? No one said it would be easy.
Keeping a hunting journal handy when sitting all day not only helps to stave off boredom, but also is an invaluable tool that can be used to reference when planning future hunts.
Now don't get me wrong, I do not sit in a tree stand all day every day of the season, there is a time and place for everything. I commonly use October and December primarily as months for morning and evening hunting. As November rolls around however, it's time to get mentally and physically tough, and start putting in the all-day vigils. Even during this time of hectic and erratic deer movement however, there are still times when I won't sit all day because sometimes the weather isn't conducive to an all-day vigil.
However, when everything comes together with the right spot, right conditions, I hang tough for the entire day. For example, stand locations in remote and/or heavily vegetated areas lend themselves extremely well to midday vigils. Combine such a location with cool weather, light to moderate winds and peak breeding activity and you've got yourself a recipe for midday success. Let me give you an example of a perfect midday hunt€¦
It All Comes Together
I'd found the spot during a previous post-season scouting junket. I knew immediately that the location would be prime for all-day hunting efforts. Such being the case, I immediately trimmed the area for decent shooting opportunities, and made note of desired wind directions and entry and exit routes. As I exited the area, a feeling of excitement welled up inside me. I had a really good feeling about this one!
The following October, I slipped back into my "honey-hole" location, hung a stand and quickly departed. With big plans for November, I fantasized about the potential of the spot. Inside, I knew that I would have to get mentally prepared for the grueling endurance test that all-day hunting always offered. This wouldn't be too tough a stretch however, because I knew well the rewards that such a sacrifice could provide. Yes, it felt really good to have a rock-solid approach to the time ahead.
On the eighth of November, everything looked good--perfect weather, the right wind direction and the rut. Shouldering my pack, I made the 30-minute hike in the darkness of a full moon night. Arriving at my tree as the eastern sky took light, I climbed aboard and settled in for a long day.
By mid-morning, I'd only seen a single, small buck. Grabbing a peanut butter sandwich from my pack, I munched away. Daydreaming as the morning sun warmed my clothes, I soon found myself lethargic. Desperately wanting to climb down for a short nap, I forced myself to stay alert.
With the passing of a few more hours, my attention was waning. Reading from a paperback book, I occasionally surveyed my surroundings. Then, in a moment of time he was simply there! Standing 40 yards to my left and slightly behind me, the bruiser had materialized out of nowhere. Quickly scanning his surroundings, it was clear that the big guy had plans to move through the area in short order. Not seeing or scenting a doe, the stud strode forward. Grabbing my bow, I yanked the string back. Hurriedly throwing my second sight pin on his chest, I flipped the switch.
All-day sits, especially in cold or wet weather can prove extremely taxing. Preparation is essential to stay
ing comfortable and mentally prepared when an opportunity does present itself.
As I settled back into my seat, the reality of the moment began to sink in. Just like that my hunt was over. Glancing down at my wristwatch, it read 1:15 p.m. I could have been having a cheeseburger at Sonic. I could have been watching a football game on television. I could have been scouting new ground. Instead, I'd been patient and focused, and had followed through with a plan to up my odds for success. Now, I was going to be taking "hero" pictures of myself. This was a personal moment, a moment of satisfaction and reward. Oh what a valuable tool, this midday hunting!
Why Do It?
Without a doubt, the undeniable lure of "big bone" is the primary force that motivates archery hunters to employ all-day hunting tactics. It's only natural that as we begin to harvest big bucks, we set our goals even higher. To attain this goal, we begin to look "outside the envelope." We read, research, apply, plan, dream and prepare. We're always looking for ways and/or shortcuts to reach our goal of more big buck encounters. As with guided hunts on elite properties, some try to shortcut the road to success by the investment of a lot of money. Others spend a lot of money on the latest and greatest gadgets that promise increased success. Hey, the attainment of big antlers can be an expensive proposition! But then again, does it really have to be this way? No way.
In our bowhunting efforts, as with everything else in life, we get out of it, what we put into it. If your bowhunting priorities revolve around simply "having fun," then all-day hunting probably isn't for you. Even with the most comfortable tree stands available, there's nothing easy about remaining fairly motionless (on your butt most of the time) for 10 to 12 consecutive hours. Even with the best clothing available, it's hard to stay warm--and once again--comfortable during an entire day spent out-of-doors. Even with planning and preparation, a sack lunch isn't a lot to look forward to. Eyes blur and concentration wanes, and boredom can be an overpowering adversary. So why would anyone want to endure all this stuff? The answer is simple--increased opportunities. Because big bucks slip up so rarely, sitting all day simply increases your odds of being there at the right time.
All Day, My Way
There are no rigid rules when it comes to the art of bowhunting from daylight, till dark. Here are few of the things I do to make my all-day vigils more productive, fun and comfortable.
Start with spacious and comfortable tree stands and/or ground blinds. I'm talking the "big boys" of comfort here! Try to find places to locate these stands that qualify as "rutting, big-buck travel corridors." Place your stands in the early season, and do all the preparatory work then. Determine desired wind directions, and entrance and exit routes. Make notes of all this information in your hunting journal, which is with you on all trips afield.
The proof is in the pudding. Of all the big bucks the author has harvested, fully 25-percent of them were taken during midday hours.
Try to have at least one week to dedicate to all-day hunting efforts although two, or three weeks are much better. Make plans for this effort to occur sometime during roughly the first three weeks of November. Work all year long to clear your platter of all distractions so that you can dedicate all your time and attention to this effort. And, lastly, be sure this effort takes place in an area that has a healthy deer herd.
Get a good mid-sized backpack and stock it with all the trinkets, gadgets and gear that helps make an all-day sit productive--a timepiece, toilet paper, camera, hunting diary, water and food, knife, paperback book, extra clothes, rattling antlers and grunt call, etc. I know of some hunters that even use little electronic poker or Yahtzee games to pass the time and keep their minds occupied. Also, make sure you're "drive'en nails" with your archery gear, and get mentally prepared to use it effectively on a trophy buck when the moment of truth comes crunching through the November leaves underneath your stand.
Try to stay on stand all day. I've killed big 'uns at sunrise, noon and sunset. During the peak of the rut, no one time of the day is that much better than any other. If you get dangerously tired during midday times, climb down and take a quick nap at the base of your tree, don't compromise personal safety for big bone. If weather conditions are unbearable, howling wind, driving rain or unbearable cold, don't push yourself beyond common sense. These types of conditions might be a good time to take a break from all-day hunting so that you can start again the next day, refreshed and ready to go.
Set rules, and try to live by them. Come early and leave late; stay hooked. Realize that this effort is short-lived and is a once-a-year opportunity. Look at the rewards, don't focus on the negatives. Keep a positive mental perspective and make the most of this narrow window of maximum opportunity for trophy harvest. Be willing to "look'em over," don't shoot the first decent buck you see (unless of course, that buck would make you happy!). If you're making a good effort, in the right place, at the right time, you'll be enjoying quite a show; be patient.
Try It, You'll Like It!
It doesn't take a mathematician to realize that a sensible approach to bowhunting all day long can really add up. As to whether or not it's for you, there's only one way to find out. Archery hunting, like life, is all about priorities and perspective. To you, it will either be worth it, or it won't, and to each his own. One thing is positively certain though; it's inevitable that you'll have more encounters with all kinds of deer. If to you, this kind of a reward is worth the sacrifice necessary to get it, then there's a November "nooner" waiting out there for you this season!