When a branch breaks 100 yards away, your head quickly turns to the sound. On a cool autumn morning, any sound will or should attract your attention. The rustling of leaves, the distant sound of geese taking off from their evening perches, or the snapping of a twig should bring your mind to a heightened state of awareness.
We have all been there during the first days of the archery season; every little thing brings us back from our daydreams. How to identify sound can sometimes be difficult, especially as the years pass and our hearing is not as good as it used to be; I am the politically correct one here.
It can be difficult to pick up sound and from which direction. There are a bunch of options out there to help some of us who are in this boat. What I found is quite simple, but at the same time difficult, so let me explain. Always be on high alert. Keep your phone in your pocket. Look for the little things to keep your mind occupied.
When you hear the rustling of leaves, find where the sound is coming from. Don’t just mentally blow it away like a squirrel running around. Identify the sound and search for the sound. Don’t give up until you find the source of that sound.
If you need a mental break, take one – not long – but take time to relax for a few minutes. It’s not a marathon, it’s hunting and it should be relaxing.
With October 1st less than three weeks away, it’s time to make sure you’re ready. Hopefully we’ve all been shooting and fine-tuning our gear. Know your kill zone with any “bow” you choose, but it’s no use if you don’t see deer.
There is a growing group of stick and string hunters who don’t care when the season starts and hunt the rut. Although it’s good for some people, I come from school where if I can legally hunt, I’m in the woods. There’s something about feeling the sun rise on your face on a chilly morning, so nothing could stop me from falling into the autumn woods.
Having a game plan is important. In our case, we have a series of hunting plans for each hunting location. Between the trail cameras and the boots on the ground, the plan falls into place, but I always have a backup plan in order to take into account the wind, the weather and the experience of the hunters.
The only thing that I and the other hunters can control is to have hunting areas that will adapt to all the situations that will come our way.
There are plenty of good bucks and fats to take in during the first part of October. At the beginning of September, the velvet detaches from the antlers and their testosterone begins to rise. Bachelor groups break up and food sources change.
Some hunters like this time of year because the deer are almost completely focused on the available food and are not worried, so their habits are generally predictable.
The key to success early in the season is staying on top of food preferences and moving when the deer do. There are templates available, and if you’re diligent, you can end up in the right place at the right time. The key to using this technique early in the season is knowing when to make the move before you realize the deer have moved.
During the summer, hardened deer hunters are always on the lookout, whether it’s checking the cameras or glazing the fields as you pass by. Often mature males do not enter a field in a position where they can be seen from a distance. They may use a ditch, grassy waterway, or finger of trees to enter a field and avoid walking completely in the open until the last moments of daylight.
Traditionally, it is common for deer to change trails or entry points. Rather than picking one and hoping for the best, it’s often better to place a stand – what I call an observation perch – in a high-visibility area of the entire field. A high corner at the edge of the field, for example, would allow you to spend an evening on a stand in an area that could offer a shot, but is more likely to give you a view of the most common entry points for feeding deer.
Deer, especially mature males, choose staging areas where they can see the field at all times, but mostly they hang around and wait to see if deer already out in the open calmly feed. These areas can be identified by the sign that the males wander off. Droppings, marks, rubbing and sometimes scratches are signs of their presence.
These areas are some of the best places to earn a lot of money early in the season, as they spend a lot of time there during the last hour of the day. Place your tree stand where you can take advantage of the wind and don’t chase the stand until the wind is good. You might only have one chance to make big money in any of these areas, so make sure you’re okay before you make your choice.
Trails that hug the edge of a crop field can be tricky to find because they aren’t heavily used, but they can be just the ticket to a dollar early in the season. Like the two sites already mentioned, these are the results of the reluctance of mature males to enter the open in daylight.
These parallel trails will be 6 to 30 yards inside the edge of a field and are in separate trails, so they are usually identified by a few tracks rather than the bare dirt of a well-worn path.
Males use these trails to control terrain odor and to connect vantage points or staging areas. A male may appear at the edge of a field an hour before he is ready to enter. These trails seem to give him something to do while he waits. Walking on these paths gives him a sense of security and helps him determine if the way is clear.
Most of the time, these trials will be on the lee side of a field, and since deer tend to enter a field from the lee side, they may cross an entry path. Where a parallel trail intersects with an entry path, this is a good place to set up a treestand on the lee side. You may be too far into the woods to get a clear view of the terrain yourself, but that’s a fair trade-off for an increased chance of shooting a mature buck.
One thing we all need to keep in mind is to not let the deer mold you. It’s your job to model the deer. This is why I use the two sets rule when hunting any stand. The two sets rule is quite simple. I never hunt a stand for more than two sets – morning or afternoon sets or vice versa. Then I will let the stand rest for at least three days. Meanwhile, whatever the conditions, I’m not chasing the pit. This is when experience and patience are important.
Staying flexible while hunting this time of year is important. This is one of the reasons why I hook multiple mounts that offer different configurations depending on the conditions or hunting situation.
Food sources are essential at the start of the season, as much if not more so than at any other time of the year. From what I’ve been able to see and from reports from other people, the hard mass harvest seems to be great, while the soft mass harvest seems to be a bit off this season. Luckily I wasn’t selling apples this year.
Knowing what deer feed on and when they feed will help increase your chances of seeing game and getting early season meat for your freezer.
The start of the archery season is an exciting time. There’s no reason not to enjoy the good weather and the fun.
Last week I heard from a good friend Alberto Rey and he asked me to share The Children In The Stream / 4H fly fishing program for young people is in its 24th season (since 1998) and classes started last Tuesday.
Fly tying/fly fishing classes will be held every Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Costello Room at the Rockefeller Art Center at the State University of New York in Fredonia through May 16. There will be no classes on November 22. , Nov 29, Dec 20, Dec 27 and 3 Jan.
Field trips are also scheduled periodically throughout the spring at Canadaway Creek.
The program is open to children over 12 (younger if accompanied by an adult), faculty, staff and community members of all ages. Classes and supplies are free. No long-term commitment is necessary.