Most avid hunters grit their teeth at the thought of the woods being filled with people. As the weather cools off and the bugs calm down, chances are there are other hunters and even hikers and campers who are exploring the same areas you like to hunt. So we can either complain about the dry, hot, uneventful season and make up a million excuses to not head out or we can use it to our advantage.
Every seasoned hunter knows that you have to put in your time in order to be successful. That’s not easy sometimes, especially when the circumstances are against you. One thing I know is that if I don’t get out there, I’ll probably regret it.
The bottom line is that in order to be successful, you have to work hard. Many hunters simply stay home when it’s busy in the woods. I can’t recall hearing of anyone shooting a deer from the couch. Here are some tips when the pressure is high.
Get out extra early
One thing is for sure, especially on three day weekends. A lot of folks will be in the woods having a good time. There will also be many hangovers. The general consensus, especially during busy weekends, is that the chance to shoot a nice deer is a matter of pure luck. Well, that may be partly true but it’s the guys that get up early that have the best chances. I like to leave camp a whole hour earlier than usual when the woods are full. That way, I can adjust my position if I need to before it gets light. This has paid off for me in the past.
Go out further
It’s a well known fact that most hunters are within a mile of any roads. During busy weekends, that will be extra true. Most people don’t venture out too far and are always thinking of that “chance” shot. Don’t be that person. The deer are going to be very keen on what’s going on and will stay far away. I like to plan on going to areas that look like good refuge areas for skittish deer. They will likely have a spot they can run to and hide. Planning in advance is a good idea and if you didn’t, try to go somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of traffic or is more difficult to reach by vehicle and by foot—also another reason to get up earlier.
Find a high spot
If you have the climbing gear, high pressure weekends are prime times to get up in a tree. Deer will be extra sensitive to scents and the higher you can position yourself, the better odds that he won’t wind you. I’m not a big fan of tree stands but I will find a nice high perch on a rock or bluff. You also have a better view of what’s happening all around you.
Go out at lunchtime
Deer are smart, very smart. They know it’s usually more safe to pop their head out during times when the woods quiet down. And, most hunters like to take a little siesta after the morning hunt (or to try and lose the hangover). Get out there when everyone else is hanging out at camp. You might just be surprised at what you see.
Position yourself near exit zones
This can be a little tricky (and scary) during rifle season, but it has worked for me in the past. Look for places where the deer are likely to escape from pressure. Try to position yourself in a place where you can get a shot when deer are driven out by other hunters. Thick areas are also good for this. Deer will slither through these areas and pop out where they know they can get away. Utilize the pressure created by other hunters and take advantage of their hard work. You can thank them later when you drive past with a nice rack on your truck.