I’ve already noticed a few leaves dropping from the oaks around my place, not from cold weather, of course, but Mother Nature is giving the trees the cue that fall is quickly approaching.
Squirrels are already cutting green acorns, and by the time archery deer season opens, the ground under the oaks should be covered with acorns. It looks like a great year for acorn production, thanks to a wet spring and early summer.
This is most definitely my favorite time of the year. Once dove season opens, I feel we have summer licked for another year. Oh, I know there will be plenty of warm, yes, even hot days, before the really cold northern air brings lasting cool weather, but it’s coming!
For the past quarter-century, I have looked forward to October and a chance once again to take my bow to the deer woods in quest of a big buck or just venison for the freezer. I am especially pumped this year. I’ve got a new bow, a B30 Gearhead Bow from Gearhead Archery. A couple weeks ago, I took my bow over to my friends at All Star Archery, and Scott Trimble worked his magic setting the peep sight in just the perfect place.
When I left the indoor range at All Star, the bow was grouping well at 25 yards. Many of my bow hunting friends ask why I set one pin at 25 yards rather than pins at 20, 30, 40, etc. While I don’t suggest everyone use my system, I’ve found it works best for me. I keep my top highly visible green sight pin set at precisely 25 yards. This allows me to hold pretty much dead on from point blank out to just over 30 yards. At 15 yards, my arrow will be a couple inches high, and a tad less than 3 inches low at 30 yards.
My reasoning is that when crunch time comes and a buck is within bow range, I don’t have to worry about which pin to use. There is enough to have to think about before making the shot. In my bow hunting career, I have killed only one whitetail over 30 yards while bow hunting and that was a big buck up in North Dakota that hung up at 33 yards and was coming no closer. I’ve spent years guiding archery elk hunters up in Colorado and in that open country, it’s sometime helpful to shoot out to 40 yards. A very few hunters I’ve guided were proficient out to 50 yards. But for whitetail deer that are wired and can be extremely jumpy at close range, I’ve found 30 yards is a good maximum yardage for me.
If you plan to hunt from a tree stand, it’s a good idea to do some practicing from an elevated position. Before the season opener, climb up into your tree stand and take a few shots at your 3D target at varying distances. Many bow hunters, including myself, have a tenacity to shoot high from elevated stands, and this practice is a great confidence builder. It might just make the difference between antlers on the wall and meat in the freezer or a missed opportunity.
Hunting with a bow and harvesting game with an arrow differs greatly from rifle hunting. Deer will sometimes run when shot with a centerfire rifle, but they often go down within sight when a shot is well placed. Not so when bow hunting. I don’t know exactly how many whitetail I have taken with a bow through the years, 40 or so I’m guessing. I do know that about 80% of them ran out of sight after the shot. Most were recovered at a short trailing job.
After the arrow is released, it’s important to remain still and quiet for at least 30 minutes. The deer will usually expire within a few yards quickly but if pressured quickly after the shot, it’s common for even a mortally wounded whitetail to run a long, long ways. It’s also pretty common to pick up the trail a few yards from where the deer standing when shot. After the shot, never assume you missed and fail to look for signs of a hit.
We still have plenty of time for a pre-whitetail opener bow hunt for wild hogs or exotics. We can always use a little camp meat for upcoming deer hunts. I am planning to take my new Gearhead bow up to Red River County close to my boyhood home and hunt for an axis buck with my long time friend Mike Ford, who with his wife Lori owns and manages the Rio Rojo Rancho Ranch situated in the northwest corner of the county. Mike says he has abundance of Axis deer and to my way of thinking; there is no better tune up hunt for whitetail season.