Shooting a deer with a bow 50 years ago took skill and luck, and few even attempted the task.
Fast-forward to today and the number of archers continues to advance. Technology has allowed for launching an arrow to be easier than ever.
The use of crossbows has reduced the amount of movement needed to release the arrow. When a whitetail is within 20 yards, blinking at the wrong time could ruin the hunt, much less having time to come to full draw. The crossbow’s ability to be cocked and ready to rock with only a safety to slide forward has made archery easier.
The same is true of the modern-day compound, which has let-offs of up to 80 percent of the draw weight once full draw is achieved. Typically in the early season I will draw as soon, if not prior to, the deer being in range. With reduced weight to hold, I can wait a minute until the deer presents a shot before pulling the trigger on my mechanical release.
Occasionally, drawing so soon can backfire, and fatigue forces the shooter to let down the draw, often in a clumsy manner. However, when able, I like to stand and draw sooner rather than later.
The lush foliage of early October often allows for deer to simply appear within 20 yards. When this occurs, the hunter is handcuffed, so to speak, and must wait for the deer’s head to go behind cover in order to move.
Ground blinds allow for more movement, and young and old hunters often are better shooters from the ground. Hunting from an elevated position allows human scent to stay away from the forest floor and often the whitetail’s nose. Although I use a scent- eliminating cover spray, my biggest buck to date was arrowed in work clothes. Having my scent blocked no doubt helped with this buck sticking around after approaching from downwind.
Unfortunately, to get above the deer’s nose, one must climb, which with it brings risk. Modern-day hang-on and climbing stands are held to certain standards, and when used in conjunction with a safety harness they are quite safe.
Wooden stands rot over time, and day after day they experience shifting from the wind, resulting in a ticking time bomb for the hunter’s safety.
Regardless of whether a hunter is on the ground or in a stand with a crossbow or recurve, the fall woods are a great place to be.
• Squirrel populations seem strong, and for those who wait until December to bag their buck with the gun, bushy tails allow for marksmanship to improve.
With a limit of six and lengthy season, finding recipes for squirrel is a no-brainer for those who like to hunt.
In this area, the black walnut and pine squirrel coincide. The lesser squirrel hoards the nut bounty rather than planting as the fox and grey do. Pine squirrels, while small, are aggressive, and a mature male will push away larger squirrels that attempt to feed from the tree.
While they are not as meaty, harvesting pine squirrels can allow for better hunting later in the season and more diverse forests in years to come.
• Grouse number are down, but populations are present throughout the county. Grapes and aspen are good places to hunt, along with recent clear-cut forestry operations.
Our state birds need no stocking, and shooting a limit of two is always an accomplishment.