ZEKE WILSON: Bagging a buck still possible
On Monday the woods were flooded with fluorescent orange as hunters young and old sought out their buck.
A skiff of snow allowed for improved visibility, and early in the morning it assisted in tracking and dragging.
Nearly every patch of woods saw some sort of hunter activity on the first day of buck season.
Areas that did not receive hunting pressure almost certainly had deer run into the marginal habitat. Finding these pockets is easier with snow present, although often they are right up against housing or industry. Places that one would have to sit for several days to see a deer can quickly have the resident population increase dramatically.
A high percentage of bucks are harvested the first day, and when the archery kill is factored in, the numbers are against remaining tag holders. Antler restrictions have allowed for more bucks to survive the first day, but often it is difficult to find them standing still long enough to count points.
While the odds decrease with each day that passes, bagging a buck during the remainder of the week is still possible. Being in the woods is the first step, and for many working individuals, this is a challenge. Vacation days or Saturdays do not allow for much time for the hunt, and with fewer bucks more hours are needed to encounter one.
Small pushes and drives are one way to increase deer sightings into a more condensed time frame. Having access to property and pushers can pose challenges. Those who have already bagged their buck are great for beating the brush, and some might even be willing to share their hotspot. Certain areas allow for better hunting, and it is not uncommon for a stand to yield several bucks in a season.
With the amount of hunters on the prowl Monday, many deer found their way into private ground that sees little if any intrusion. Minimal hunting pressure during the week allows for some of these herds to ride out the first week without really experiencing deer season.
On Saturday, antlerless deer become legal as well, and it is not until the concurrent season that deer movements peak. When the entire herd is being shot at, staying on the move is at times the only option for hunters. With wind in their face, deer on the run can quickly cover ground. Typically the lead doe is in front, with the buck bringing up the rear. Once does become fair game, many hunters shoot the first deer they see, allowing the bucks to continue with the herd.
Playing the wind is especially important now that the season is under way. Hunting during the morning and evening over food sources can be frustrating when the deer are on high alert. Luckily, the energy expended over the opening-day onslaught will force deer to feed at some point.
Staying focused and in the hunt will allow the most of any opportunity. Despite decreased buck numbers, the season is still conducive for collecting venison.