2011-2012 Bowhunting Season Review
For most of the country bowhunters are wrapping up their seasons and putting up their bows for a short period of time. We have finished the season for the most part with the exception of Pro Staff Member Bill Lawson, who will be bowhunting in Central Florida, with a special permit through February. Typically, we like to take a step back and evaluate how the season went to include questions such as:
- What went well from Summer Prep to Early Season?
- Did I follow core strategies to encounter targeted Bucks?
- How did I adjust to changing Food Sources?
- What new things I learned throughout the season?
What went well from Summer Prep to Early Season?
Keep in mind this is the first season on this hunting property with any type of food sources. We started in June with Lab Lab Plus and iron clay peas. We started to see deer that we did not know were even on this property. We had a bachelor group of bucks that was impressive for the farm. What we soon learned is the Lab Lab Plus failed to grow to it’s full potential because our soil was still not as fertile as it needed to be in spite of applying lime and fertilizer. Additionally, the weeds were too intrusive and over took the entire plot.
On the other hand the peas did unbelievably well. To the point we had to replant them at least 4-5 times before the season started. They did well in the soil and the deer loved them. You can see some of the bucks we got on film during the summer months. What we did that worked so well in the summer ultimately came back to hurt us during the October to December time frame. More on that in a minute….
We got all of our stands set up early and identified travel patterns and locations of these mature bucks. I had an encounter right of the gate in September with one of our Target Bucks who was 5 year old 16o inch Georgia Monster. He was in the peas with another buck and started to move in my direction back to his bedding area. As quickly as he was moving toward me he changed directions and never saw him again. He must have gotten a “wiff” of me with wind change. Wind was in the right direction but something spooked him. I would end up having one more encounter with this deer in October.
Did I follow core strategies to encounter targeted Bucks?
For the most part I followed the core strategies and tactics I have become to believe in over the past several years such as hunting on a good wind, not going to the woods if conditions are not right, not over hunting one area, and bowhunting transition zones or staging areas, and making adjustments after learning new information. I had several places that I bowhunted this year that include new Georgia Farm, South Carolina Property, and Illinois Farm. The Georgia Farm was the only place I had to learn as I went throughout the season. This combined with hot conditions for most of the season made things a bit difficult inspite of trying to do all things correct. I will share a with you some of the bowhunting gear (see below) I used this year and some I will use next year based on hunting scenarios this season.
How did I adjust to changing Food Sources?
During the summer as I mentioned earlier we had cleared the back part of the property seen in this picture to plant our summer & fall food plots. This farm and surrounding areas do not have a great deal of High Quality Food Sources. We cleared about 4-5 acres of the farm inorder to plant our peas and Lab Lab in the summer and Rye/Chicory in the Fall. While we had enhanced the quality of food sources on the farm, it turns out that we also took away some bedding / travel zones for these deer. We negatively changed the deer patterns. The deer were hitting the food plots at night but not during the day. This forced us to move more into the woods to hunt these deer. While we had some encounters we did not have near the success we had hoped. I did have one opportunity at this buck again in October. The wind was good and weather had cooled down with deer focused on acorns. I knew it was going to be a good night when I started to see two young bucks come across the ridge feeding on acorns early. Then another buck that was little bigger and then another buck that was awesome 2 year old. At this point I had (4) bucks right on top of me and then he walks in. I did not have a shot because one of the other bucks was looking at me. I stayed focused and did not rush thinking I had good wind and bucks were feeding. I thought it would just be matter of patience and I would shoot him. Turns out that I had these (5) bucks all around me and that Monster never gave me a good shot and then had a coyote come in and blow them out. Oh well! Due the issue of nocturnal feeding on food plot we focused on acorns and hunted close to bedding areas (only with good winds). Stay tuned for a whole new strategy on the Georgia Farm that we are excited to share with you over the next 6 months. More to come…..
What new things I learned throughout the season?
I learned that when things are not going right and you have to stop and think about what is going on. I think you still have to focus on FOOD, BEDDING, WATER, & PRESSURE. Don’t second guess these key factors that drive deer behaviors and patterns. Depending on your hunting location some of these factors are more influential than others. You have to be on the one to determine how each of these factors are impacting your deer movement and behaviors. Keep in mind that these factors are sometimes fluid, so you have to be constantly adjusting and monitoring as needed. I learned that the most obvious places should be investigated and hunted but also the most unobvious areas should not be over looked. This did happen to me as I overlooked a block of woods that I did not think mature buck would use. So happened that he moved there due to pressure in the other areas we were hunting. Lesson Learned!
Bowhunting Gear Used and Gear I will use next Season
I am a gear junky and I like to use a lot of new bowhunting gear and equipment each season. Here are a few of the bowhunting equipment products used this season:
- Swhacker Broadhead
- Epic HD Camera on my Bow
- PSE EVO Compound Bow
- X-Factor Bow Stand
- Underarmour Ridge Reaper Early Season Pants and Jacket
- Underarmour Ridge Reaper Jacket and Bibs for colder weather
- Underarmour Speed Freak Boots
- Lethal Scent Elimination Products
- Third Arm Camera Arm for Video Camera
- Ol’Man Roost Fixed Tree Stand
- Scout Look Weather Website
Overall, I was very pleased with all of these products throughout the season. A few that really stood out to me were the Lethal Scent Eliminator Products. This product is unbelievably effective and eliminating odors. I used the shampoo, detergent and field sprays all season. Another product that I was pleasantly surprised about was the Swhacker Broadhead. I was skeptical of this until I watched a few videos and after talking to Spook regarding this broadhead. The testing is pretty telling when you see it in action. I decided to use it in South Carolina and shot a nice 8 point with it. It was a 45 yard shot in the heart and he only ran 40 yards and piled up dead. The Swhacker did an awesome job of creating a huge entry and exit wound.
The Underarmour Hunting Cloths and Boots speak for themselves. What I liked this year was the new version of the Ridge Reaper Clothing. The Early Season light Pants and Jacket worked really well in Wyoming and throughout a big part of the season because it was soo unusually warm. Finally, a website that I used was Scoutlookweather.com. This website provides some of the most accurate weather, lunar and wind information. One of the features I loved most was the scent cone for your specific location. This feature tells you your projected direction of your scent based on the wind direction for that particular stand. You can read more about this website in an article I did on the Blog by clicking here.
Every season brings new opportunities and new challenges. For most of us we have to make small adjustments year after year to ensure we are seeing and then getting opportunities to harvest mature bucks. Following your key core strategies is something that should not change but your ability to be flexible to deer patterns and behaviors is a must as these are not things we can control.
Originally posted 2012-01-24 10:41:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter