Bow Season: Psychological Operations

This is the eleventh part of a 12 part series covering my time spent with a Kansas Whitetail outfitter during his entire bow season.

One of the most fascinating observations I have made during my time here in bow camp is that human nature is always just a circumstance away from showing itself. Hunters, by nature, are competitive people for the most part so it should have been no surprise when I witnessed several hunters attempt to jockey themselves into the best hunting situations possible.

A middle-aged gentleman from the south was starting to sense that the hunting would be tough after two days of hot weather and low deer activity. Of course the hunter was correct in his assumptions, but his solution was to try and entice me (with money) to reveal the magic hunting spot where he could kill a big buck despite the poor weather. I was acting as a guide, but I had no magic spot or secret honey hole to offer. I found the situation odd, and I admired the guy for trying everything he could think of to be successful, but it did not compare to some of the stories the outfitter shared with me.

During the early years of his outfitting service, the outfitter was a religious trail camera user.  Using game cameras is common among hunting outfitters, but he stopped using cameras after several thefts, after spending too much time maintaining them, and after hunters began to argue over which stands were better than the other stands based on trail cam photos.  Apparently, once the cameras snapped a few photos of booners, hunters decided that the stands nearest the location of the photos were the ‘best’ locations to hunt, and arguments would be hatched. The outfitter finally quit using cameras.

On yet another occasion, a certain Mr. Rich guy showed up from Florida and right off the bat promised me the world. He did not even know me yet and he presented an invitation to come down anytime and turkey hunt and various other activities. I am experienced enough to show appreciation for such gestures, but I don’t hold my breath waiting for them to come to fruition. Sure enough, after three days of some of the hottest weather on record during the time of the rut, the deer activity died and I suddenly became a pariah because I could not induce a mature buck to run under this guy’s treestand. I don’t think I’m turkey hunting in Florida this year.

Finally, from over 700 yards away, I watched a hunter in a ladder stand that overlooked a hay field with heavy woods behind the stand. I specifically spied two bucks near his stand that were in the 150’s but he never attempted to shoot them. I was excited knowing that a good buck would be killed any second but no shot ever happened. After dark, I picked up the hunter and asked him what all he had seen that evening. “Nothing, only does and a spike,” he replied. I was puzzled as I knew he was fibbing, but I did not reveal my secret.  I told him not to worry that I would put him in a new spot in the morning and move someone else into the ladder stand he had just hunted. He quickly said, “Oh no, I really like the view from this stand I would like to keep hunting it.” Turns out, he passed up 150 bucks several times hoping for something bigger, but he did not want anyone to know that. Human nature strikes again.