Deer season opens on Sunday and the month-and-a-half head start is just one reason bow hunters love their season the most
The air is crisper, leaves are floating to the ground and the Oct. 1 on your calendar is within sight.
Oh yes, it’s deer season.
Sunday is the day hunters can start to legally take deer, and it’s a day so many hunters have anticipated. Shotguns for deer can’t be carried into the woods until Nov. 18, so what’s the fuss?
It’s bow season. And for many hunters, this is the season that is the favorite. The reasons vary, but we can start with the month-and-a-half head start we get on the regular season, or getting the rut practically to yourself. Too, the woods remain quiet, remain uncrowded and remain as challenging as ever.
Beyond getting in range for spring turkey with shotgun, getting in range of deer with a bow may be one of the most challenging endeavors in the woods. But really, there’s so much more to it than just getting close enough.
If you’ve worked on sighting your bow, you know all about this. Whether it’s a new bow you’re tuning in, or re-setting it after getting new strings, sighting your bow is a work in patience and precision. Countless shots may only be outnumbered by the countless times you reach for the allen wrench to move that sight to the left. Or right. Or up. Or down.
It can be a maddening process but really, it’s a must. There is little room for error when it comes to sights on the bow. You have to be on point. And once you get the bow dialed in at 20 yards, you kind of start all over again to make sure it’s all set at 30 yards and maybe even 40 yards.
And just by mentioning those distances, you can see how close bowhunters need to be. But it’s not as easy as walking up that close to a deer, of course. It’s actually the other way around because hunters really rely on the deer walking up to them.
That’s why so much time is spent over the summer watching deer. Visiting their woods to find food sources, water sources and cover. Picking a spot that combines all three can be tricky, and may even require a bit of luck.
Once your bow is set, and you have your spot(s) picked, it’s time to get into the woods. And again, it’s tricky.
Considering the strength of the nose and ears for deer, getting to your tree stand without being detected is much easier said than done. Is the wind going to carry my scent into the woods and spook the deer? What about these dry leaves under my boots? Will I sound human and send deer scattering or make them hunker down and stay put?
Even if it all comes together and you’re in your stand with an ideal situation where the deer comes into range, do you have the composure to get it done?
You can watch all the videos and read all the magazine stories you want, but none of that prepares you for the adrenaline rush you feel when a deer presents itself broadside at 20 or 25 yards.
With your heart racing, you hold your breath, keep your nerves, draw the bow and put the pin where it needs to be. And with a simple move of your finger, you release the arrow all while remembering to keep your bow hand steady and resist the temptation to pull it away and watch the arrow fly.
But when that arrow is released, it’s time to use your ears. No sound? No deer and you’re probably closing your hunt by looking for that arrow in the ground.
A solid thwack? Then your heart races even faster and perhaps your knees begin to shake because you know the arrow hit its target. You resist the temptation to get down from the stand because you know it’s wiser to stay put as the wounded deer seeks shelter. And while you sit, you start to think of the tracking job ahead of you.
There are times you find your deer right away. But there are times, too, when it takes hours to follow the trail before finding your deer deep in the brush.
Why mention all this? Because it’s all of this that makes bow season the favorite for many hunters. Bowhunting is so much more than just sitting in a stand and waiting.
There’s a ton of work and preparation that goes into the hunt, and that’s why the reward is so satisfying.
Good luck this season, hunters. And remember, above all, be safe.
Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at email@example.com or follow me @MPN_bchavez