For a moment, let’s dare to dream that impossible dream of the ultimate deer season. For me, it would be an eight-month affair, and it would include a smorgasbord of gear variety and hunting locations. Let’s go hunting!
July: Bow or Crossbow
It sounds crazy, but this journey would begin in southern Florida of all places. Believe it or not, the whitetail rut kicks off during late summer down there, and it is pretty incredible despite the heat and mosquitoes.
The warm weather tags along as we head farther up the coast to North Carolina for a mid-month smokepole hunt. The state’s gun season is a cherished tradition and deer are plentiful, especially in the Low Country.
September: Compound Bow
Let’s start out the month right by visiting my good friend Ralph Dampman in northeast Wyoming for the action-packed archery opener, then head back home to Wisconsin for its mid-month kick-off. If we tag out early, we’ll hop across the Mississippi to Minnesota for some bluff country treestand vigils.
While most archers anticipate October (because most states don’t open bow season until the 1st or the 15th), I’ve taken a liking to Texas. Although the state’s normal gun season doesn’t start until later, hunters can get access to managed deer land (MDL) permits and hunt does and management bucks. It’s fun and productive.
November: Slug Gun
It would be a tough call to pass up any rut-time bowhunt anywhere, but the late-November slug-gun season in Illinois is something special. It’s only three days long, but it’s steeped in tradition and excitement.
So many good options here. We could try to tag out in Iowa with a slug gun, Kansas with the trusty .30-06, or Oklahoma with a muzzleloader Or turn the truck north and hit Michigan, Ohio or a half-dozen other options. With ample doe tags everywhere, December is the second “season of harvest.”
Hunt Alabama just one time during the cold month of January and you will experience something special. I don’t know if it’s the deer — they have a ton of them — or the Southern hospitality, but one taste is all it takes to develop a full-blown addiction.
This is a bucket-list dream hunt, but if I’m dreaming, I’m going big: West Texas season finale. Ground blind. Need one last doe (or two) so we can put up a pile of bratwurst, hot dogs and summer sausage for family and friends.
Back to Reality
Although it would be cool to hopscotch the country and chase whitetails from July to February every year, the hidden message in this dream is that today’s equipment and generous hunting seasons allow us to live out our fantasies whether we choose to do that in other locales or in our own backyards.
Keep that in mind while perusing this year’s lineup of new products.