& Archery Tips

November / December '09  Bowhunting Expert TIPS

Expert Tip of the Month

Forrest Breedlove - D.I.Y. Bowhunter   

Public Land & Do It Yourself Expert)

Bowhunters still holding buck tags will spend December keying on food sources in an attempt to arrow a run down warrior. For those who were lucky enough to visit their taxidermist, next season starts right now.

For the past 2 months your mental energy was been devoted to cracking the code into the whitetail’s safe. The season’s experiences, sightings, and observations still sit in the forefront of your mind and all the evidence of the deer’s actions still glows red. Start constructing a plan for next season while your still holding the tools. Now is the time to check out that thicket you keep seeing does come from or examine that field corner those bucks entered into at first light. Get out there before everything you learned this season gets stored behind that great Super Bowl play or that big gobbler you shot in your memory bank. Moving stand locations or just tweaking them, following rub and scrape lines, and even looking into new properties are best done as soon as your season ends.

There exist no better time between now and next November that you will be better equipped to set the stage for another successful year. You reap what you sow and the sooner you put that seed in the ground for next season the greater your harvest could be.

Don France - Pro Tournament Shooter  

Carbon Express, Mathews Pro Staff)

Late season strategies

When it comes to late season hunting and you have tags remaining to fill there is bad news and good news.  Bad news is that your schedule is getting busy before the holidays and time to hunt becomes scarce with less daylight.  The good news is the second rut is your second chance to optimize your potential to get your buck if he made it through the gun season.  The does remaining not bred 28 days after the primary come into estrous again and aggressive bucks will be on the move.  Typically in SW Michigan this occurs at the end of the first week and extends into the 2nd week of December. 

On our small farm 2 tactics work well.  One is to hunt the edge of a large food source, such as a bean field (or your food plot), along a major intersection where several does are known to enter the field each evening about 40 minutes before dark.  This location works well if you can approach without your scent crossing their bedding area and you remain out of sight.  Simply wait for the does and a buck will likely follow.  When I guide hunters, this is typically when they see the most action. 

Second tactic is to go after a known buck back in cover.  Strategically mark lines on an aerial photo or map of your hunting property to trace exactly where you have observed deer movement and especially big buck movement and travel patterns should become clear.  This should place you downwind near his core area along intersecting trails where he may follow a doe anytime throughout the day.  You may well have to move your stand to get into position. 

Either of these 2 tactics will help increase your odds to fill your tag (baiting in many states including Michigan is illegal so I intentionally omitted it).  With the second rut come colder temperatures.  Be sure you can accurately shoot your bow with your insulated jacket, head cover, gloves, etc. this time of year.  Don’t leave anything to chance.  It may even be necessary to reduce your draw weight for extra chilly stand hunting.  Take a couple of practice shots before going out on afternoon hunts.  You may discover you will need an armguard to reduce the bulk of your coat sleeve for bowstring clearance or that your gloves must be removed to accurately shoot your bow.  I’ve even specially altered a cold weather-shooting glove for a wrist strap release to be worn like normal except the release head sticks through the palm of the glove with a slit cut in the glove trigger finger for better accuracy.  Disposable hand warmers also come in handy. 

Get out there every chance you have.  You never know for sure when it will happen, but you have to be out there for it to happen.  Good luck.

Steve Pittman - BowTurbow / 12 Point Archery     

(Hoyt Pro Staff Shooter, Founder BowTurbow

Steve shares a great tip on how to identify Bow String Stretch.  An issue that we all face.  This Video is a must see no matter if you are a beginner or seasoned Bowhunter.  Watch this Video

Rans Thomas- Senior Wildlife Biologist Tecomate Wildlife Systems      

( Biologist & Avid Bowhunter )

Fruiting trees of October: Mother nature offers up a lot of high quality food sources for whitetails in October.  Persimmons, crabapples, and other soft mast trees are dropping fruit.  Not many better places to be right now than near a heavy fruiting persimmon.  Saw tooth oaks are probably the most popular tree to plant for deer and wildlife in the southeast because they can bear fruit in as little as 10 years after planting a 1 year seedling.  Deer and other wildlife go nuts over this sweet white oak acorn and will literally stand under the tree waiting on them to fall.  Now a shocker, I actually don't plant a lot of saw tooth for my deer management programs.  The reason is that all of the acorns drop in September or early October, they all fall within a couple of weeks and they are scarffed up the minute they hit the ground.  I've place my bow stand over saw tooth on my family farm in early September when they were loaded and deer were all over the area.  I've returned later that month or early October to find a dead zone littered with acorn hulls and caps and only the remnants of heavy traffic.  So we have a fast maturing tree with acorns that are very sweet to whitetails but it bears to fast and at the wrong time. 

I am currently collecting and germinating acorns from saw tooth that seem to naturally hold their fruit longer.  My hope is that this is a genetic trait that will be passed on and in a few years I will have a late fruiting variety I can plant.  My tip for you guys planting and nurturing saw tooth oaks is transition to later fruiting soft mast trees.  When scouting look for the persimmon trees that do have fruit as only the females bear, flag them, remove competing non-beneficial trees from around them, apply slow release fertilizer, then hang your bow stand.  These trees make excellent spots for bow hunting in October.

Kip Adams- Biologist       

QDMA Biologist & Avid Bowhunter)

November, aahhh the best time to be in the woods.  Unless you're a big woods tracker from the Adirondacks or New England, there is no better time to be in the woods pursuing whitetails than this month.  Early-season hunts are fun, and late-season hunts on snow are exciting, but nothing compares to hunting the rut in early and mid-November.  Bucks have completely shifted from the "need to feed" to the "need to breed" and does consume their activities.  Bucks spend a lot of time on their feet, so hunt the best travel corridors leading to active food sources as this is where the does will be.  Depending on your location, these food sources may be agricultural crops, soft or hard mast, or forests in early-successional stages.  The point is to locate the best food and position yourself to intercept bucks coming to it.  Calling and rattling can work well, especially if you hunt in an area with a tuned-up deer herd (balanced sex ratio and age structure). 
When deer activity falls off (few sightings, scraping subsides) during peak breeding move to the thickest, most secure habitat as this is where paired bucks and does are generally found.  The action is far reduced from a week or two earlier, but the persistent can still find a lovesick buck on the prowl or lure one away from a doe with good calling and a well-positioned decoy.  Good luck and enjoy the festivities.

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery    

In the South, October represents a change in whitetail patterns.  Deer are moving out of Bachelor Groups and out of their summer pattern that you may have seen when season opened in mid September.  In early to mid October typically Bucks are focusing on building up reserves and body weight prior to "Rut" kicking off.  Find the Acorns and Soft Mass and you will find deer.  I like to focus stand ups in a transitional area between bedding and food source.  A Mature Buck is going to move through thick cover as much as possible along way to food source.  Find an area that will provide you enough cover and set up so you can catch those deer or that mature Buck as he comes out of transitional cover to feed.  Remember to make sure the WIND is good, otherwise you could educate that buck you are hunting.

I am also a big believer in hunting the moon.  If you have a limited number of days to hunt, let this moon phase calendar that includes Major and Minor Feed Times, Moon Up and Moon Down times to help you see more deer in field. Moon Phase Calendar

Bill Lawson - Stick'em Archery

Bill shares some great information on how to effectively Track an Arrowed Animal.  An issue that we all face.  This Video is a must see no matter if you are a beginner or seasoned Bowhunter.  Watch this Video

Check out our "Ask the Experts" platform to ask these experts your own questions or to see what has been posted on the Expert Answer Board related to many Bowhunting and Archery Topics....

Additional Articles:

Understanding Saddles

Bow Hunting Funnels

Early Season Deer Patterns

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