Hunting the early archery season is always hit or miss for me. More often, miss.
The season seems to get underway just about the time deer are changing from their summer pattern to that of fall. Along with weather and changing food sources, the hunting pressure we apply as hunters has something to with this, I believe.
I took some time off from work last week and opening morning found my hunting partner Ron and I in our stands before daylight. Ron was in a tree stand on the edge of the woods looking down into a wooded valley and I was not far from him in a ground blind. Both stands were between a known bedding area and a half-dozen productive apple trees scattered over two clearings.
Two of these apple trees have been receiving regular visits from the local deer population, including bucks. I’ve observed them numerous times as well as captured them on my trail cameras. But these two trees were also running out of apples as opening day neared. The deer sightings got scarce and I noticed the deer were checking for acorns under the oak trees before heading for the apples.
I’d been gambling that the apples would hold for the first part of the season and focused my strategy around it. This scenario has played out many times in years past, especially in those when there are multiple food sources.
So there we were on a foggy opening morning. An hour into the hunt I was starting to wonder if I should’ve set up on the hardwood ridge a half-mile a way where acorns and beechnuts are replacing apples as a main food source. Everybody and their brother also hunts this ridge.
I didn’t have a watch with me and I knew it was getting time for a radio check-in with Ron. After fiddling with my pack and getting the radio turned on I looked up from my blind to see a buck 30 yards away just coming to halt and looking my way. He was nervous and in two quick hops he was out of sight. But he was headed in Ron’s direction.