GETTING THE GREEN LIGHT AND KNOWING WHEN TO MOVE
Two themes jump out of this episode. First is how Drew used his trail camera photos to tell him when to start hunting his food plot. Second is the interesting dilemma that always comes up when you move your stand during the season. I will hit them both quickly.
The Green Light: Deer hunting may seem confusing and difficult at times, but really it is pretty straightforward if you step back and take a big picture view. You can’t kill bucks with a bow if they aren’t moving in daylight. At least, it gets very, very hard to do. Sure you can try deer drives and you can try to hunt right in a buck’s bedding area, but those are high risk, low reward strategies that can educate deer fast.
So, we need to set up, or look for, situations where bucks are moving in daylight. If we try to hunt them when they aren’t, we just educated deer (they are quick to pick up on the fact that we are hunting them) and that makes it even less likely that the bucks will move in daylight.
We can either wait for a cold front, only hunt the rut or keep watch of the bucks using trail cameras until they change their behavior.
This shift from nighttime to daylight movement is the green light I am referring to. When we start to pick up a buck moving in daylight, we need to react immediately. This new behavior may only last a few days before the buck resumes his nocturnal patterns. This is what Drew McClain did in Episode 10 and he was rewarded with a great Ohio buck.
When to Move Your Stand: This can be a tough decision. Aaron moved his stand deeper into the bedding area in search of the buck he was after only to have a nice shooter walk past the the original stand site in daylight the same evening he was hunting the new set! While Aaron did the right thing in his search for his target buck, this does demonstrate a dilemma we often encounter when bowhunting.
Here is the dilemma: you are sitting on your stand see a nice buck move through a different part of your hunting area. You may be tempted to move the stand to cover that route, but is that really wise? First you need to decide if it was an isolated event or if this is a recurring pattern. If you spend a lot of time hunting, you are going to see plenty of random movement during the course of a season. It doesn’t all make sense; you can’t react to everything you see.
Getting this right is more gut feel and art than science, but my rule of thumb to wait until you have more to go on than a single sighting. I put the original stand where I did for a reason, it is worth giving it some time to prove itself.
If I see bucks doing the same thing consistently, then it does make sense to rethink my original site because it is possible I made a mistake and didn’t interpret the sign or the terrain correctly. In that case, if I know I screwed up, I might move more quickly than if my original stand site continues to make sense. Otherwise, being patient is generally the best bet.
Sometimes the next step is obvious and sometimes it is not. I have gone several seasons in some stands before gaining enough experience to make the next move. This is why great stands are made, not born. Scouting can get you into the right area, but only experience on stand can get you into the perfect tree.