We all know deer season is our season. After months of preseason scouting and trail camera efforts in August, September, and October, November rolls around and we are consumed by deer. For a few short months, every minute of every day we spend either hunting or thinking about hunting.
Then, all of a sudden, it is over. The million dollar question we all ask ourselves is: Now what? Staying busy with outdoor related activities is a key to keeping our sanity during these non-deer season months. We clean and store our gear, begin regular archery practice to say in top form, take a look at new gear and work at camp on plots and stands. Otherwise, we would drive ourselves crazy with the what-ifs we faced last season.
Here are four great ways to keep your mind churning until autumn rolls around.
Small Game Season
Many states have small game hunting and trapping seasons that run through February and beyond. With the close of deer season, what better time to chase some bunnies or run a trap line for muskrat or raccoon? Anytime is a good time to rid your woods of some pesky coyotes.
Plus, it gives you extra opportunities for crossbow practice before deer season arrives. As we always tell you, “Aim small, miss small.” Practice from various distances, in a stand or blind if you have the possibility to set up one for use, and test any new arrows, heads or other gear now. Get used to any new accessories before the season arrives. Predator and small game hunting is a great way to build confidence and woodsmanship, too.
Antlers have started dropping. If you are lucky enough to find them you will have gained knowledge of which bucks have made it through the season. You’ll have an idea of where they like to spend some of their time. Shed hunting also allows you to get a jump on scouting for next season. Keep written or good mental notes, and possibly take photos or video, of any new areas, travel routes and locations of sheds so you can put up cameras later in summer.
Sport and Outdoor Shows
This time of year there are several outdoor shows, game dinners and seminars that can get you back in the outdoors, while being indoors. Like the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website, most states have a calendar of events on their DNR website for your convenience. Or, maybe you could join an indoor bow league at one of your local shops. Friendly competition is a good way to learn to steel your nerves under pressure, and you may also meet some new hunters who share ideas or a new hunting location.
Start on Your 2016 Wish List
2016 promises to be another exciting lineup of crossbows and accessories. It’s never too early to start building your list of equipment you want for next season. Will these activities measure up to the thrill of deer season and consume your mind for the next few months until your chasing spring gobblers? Absolutely not, and nothing ever will. But, take advantage of a few of these opportunities to help ease the pain of the reality that, yes, deer season is over.
Whether you’re a veteran or new to crossbow hunting, make sure you know the regulations in your state or other states you plan to hunt.
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