gun season/bow season

What's the hunt looking like this year in your area? Share!
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gun season/bow season

Postby vipermann7 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:35 pm

I have fantastic bow hunting on the farm where I hunt, I see deer every night, several deer usually. Not many mature bucks, I have never seen many mature bucks in that particular area, I think due to the "if it's brown, it's down" mentality of that area. But none the less, plenty of does and smaller bucks. Then gun season opens, and you can't find a deer if you pick every inch of that area with a magnifying glass. When I started gun hunting about 14 years ago, we would see several groups of deer moving around throughout the day, just about every day. The first year I hunted was the best, since then it has dwindled down to less and less deer activity come gun season. As of about 3 years ago, we have been skunked every opening weekend, not a single deer even in sight across the fields. We don't shoot, the neighbors don't shoot, the only shooting we hear are the far, far distant thuds of hunters miles away getting some shots. If we sit all day, every day, for all 9 days of our gun season we might kick up on small doe. Then late season bow hunting starts again in December we start seeing deer again. So what's deal? Any of you all see this happen to you?

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby wordbird » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:35 pm

Do you still hunt the same stands during gun season? I know some folks will switch to stands that offer a bigger view of the area and abandon the bow stands. I'm guilty of this myself. The deer might still be there and staying in the cover.
Also even though you may not be hearing shooting nearby, there are probably more hunters in the woods which could alter the deers patterns.
This not knowing about these things make me uncertain. [;)]

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby msbadger » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:04 am

Too many variables to make a opening day morning is a shoot out then nothing.....We have 3 groups around us that shoots any thing that moves and then theres two land owners us and ppl next door...they won't shoot doe and only "wall hangers"....they haven't taken safety off their guns in 2 I'll take a doe here then one at camp...and usually get a 7-8pt during bow season  or opening day gun....All my good sightings are in spring...then it dwindles rare to see a big buck before the chase phase but then the last week of bow there are several big buck chasing doe.....I'll tell ya though years ago we could look out the window and see herds of we'er lucky to see a couple of doe with a couple of fawn intow....when entire family units are wiped out it can take 6-8 years for doe to come in and establish another....believe DDH had an article on this if not it was another publication or DVD....another thing....well I'm up early and I listen outside ...I listen for the crows...see we don't have corn fields growing in the local hard maple woods...but every fall starting now large flocks of crow are making a heck of a racket in near by wood lots.....hhhmmm usually close to where I know some have built stands....Go figure 

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby howhill1 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:00 am

not knowing your land layout real well or the habits of your neighbors or hunter density. its hard to make a judgement. but ive come to conclusion that most(not all) gun hunters are not as likely to pay great attention to scent control and stealth as most bowhunters. simply due to the distance differenc of the average shot. after decades of being pursued by "those smelly orange things" at paticular times it probably doesnt take much to put them on full alert. i honestly feel that are conditioned to our seasons, twenty years ago deer didnt look much. its common for me to see deer lookin in the trees as much as the forest floor now. when pressured we all know that deer are gonna hole up where they feel safe and move little in daytime hours unless forced. ive seen as many as a hundred deer standing in the middle of a several hundred acre field during our gun easons. they know they're safe out there and out there they'll stay until dark. what kind of bowhunting pressure does your property see up to the gun season? this can be play a part as well. and as wordbird stated hunters dont have to shoot to pressure deer.
"please join the N.R.A. as well as your state rifle association! these are critical times for ALL gun owners. Be informed, be active and stay vigilant"

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby shaman » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:22 am

I  had a spot downriver from Cincinnati that had fantastic sign until mid-October and then the entire ridge would drain of deer and the owner and his buddies would get skunked every rifle season.  The guy finally got tired of it, and sold the place. 

Hunting pressure can do it.  By any chance are you being poached?  We found out later that the locals were poaching this farm in a big way during the week.

Another thing I noticed from your post is that you are not seeing any deer in the fields.  Is it possible that the deer have a source of something like acorns that is drawing them away?  I've got a lot of white oaks on my place that drop late and they draw deer just before gun season starts.  On the forum, I saw one year where everyone that hunted fields got skunked opening weekend, while the guys like us that had our stands in the oak groves were scoring big.

It could also be an agricultural crop that's drawing them.  Deer will hit corn fields after they're harvested to pick up the leavings.

Feeders can do it too.   If the guys on the neighboring ridges are feeding intensively with corn or something like that, it will draw off your deer.  The only thing to do is do supplemental feeding yourself.

Those are just a few ideas I had-- things I've seen happen before.  Good luck with it.  I've been there myself.
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Confessions of a Cervid Serial Killer

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby JOEL » Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:05 am

aaa of the above are coming into play i think.the old timers at my camp would say "20yrs ago there were huge herds of deer"you ask some more and found out that 20yrs ago the woods were open fields or cropped and that they were surrounded by farms,also they hadnt cut down the oaks to sell for timber.[:(]hunting pressure and scouting put the deer on alert big you or any one else small game in the area?whats the coyote situation like?do you hunt the same stands or rotate you have any sanctuary areas on your property?if not thats where they went
"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." - Fred Bear

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby djohns13 » Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:32 am

Actually this scenario is pretty common in areas where hunting pressure is very high.  The only thing I would recommend are to use the opening day shootout to your advantage.  Find every patch of thick, jungle-like cover and try to determine every possible escape route from where the deer are during bow season to the heavy cover.  On opening day, have a stand ready along these escape routes and get in the stand very early.  Once the shooting begins, the deer will be leaving their archery season territory for the thick cover and will hang out there until the shooting stops, then they return to their normal hang-outs.  I would use aerial photography to isolate some of these cover locations and then put in a lot of foot time.  Once you find the right spots and get your stands hung, stay completely out of there until opening day.
Good luck and great shooting.
Darren Johnson
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Glad to talk to all of you, but I'd rather be sitting in a tree stand on a cool morning trying not to move so that the bruiser buck directly below me doesn't figure out that I am watching him!

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby EatDeer » Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:45 am

 Shaman could be on to something with the baiting drawing your deer away.  I also think your problem could be hunting pressure/ weak habitat, that and your nieghbors are maybe shooting deer off food plots. I'd recommend planting a acre of BFO next year if your season is a repeat of last few last years. Try some TSI this winter if you don't have cover/browse for the deer to hide within.  I'd also beat the other hunters to the woods on opening day by a hour atleast. Every little addition to your parcel helps you hold deer on your land during hunting season. Give the deer a place to hide ,feed,and drink, then they should hold up on your land.
"Let a young buck go, so he can grow."

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby Sailfish » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:37 am

Many good reasons listed for sure. And just sooooo many variables.
The land I hunt rifle is cyclical (or so it appears).
8-10 years ago I saw large herd of does and fawns (in the 20-30's) right out in front of the shanty feeding. But few bucks. Then a few years went by, and numbers dwindled to maybe we would see 4-5 together. But more bucks. Last year, the numbers of doe were greater but still not the 20-30 range, but we had a great concentration of bucks, nearer a 50/50 split!
My gun hunting area is famland. Some years the corn is still in, other years it's not. It does  seem when the corn is in the ground, we don't see many deer. Last year 75% of the corn was out in our area.
Also the farmers are getting older. Many who had hunted their land have not been able to hunt anymore. They lease it out, and I have seen many more hunters around us last few years(despite the fact that nationwide hunting numbers appear to have fallen 25% or something??).
Last year, these two leasers across from us were trekking in and out of the woods all week. It was crazy. I thought they had a coffee stand set-up in the woods or something. It put the deer on 100% alert. They were creeping through the swamp near me.
I do not think (in my area) that deer learn November 15th is rifle day or know to look in trees. Not many reach maturity around there. The ones that do are the ones we aren't seeing during the day.  
I think that when the crops come out, their natural instinct is go more covert (into the woods), and that all happens around that time. Now you combine the deer sticking to the woods, and hunters at 5am spreading their scent in the woods, come's a potluck draw on what your going to see.
One last thing is predators. With all the factors mentioned in this thread it is possible with the large increase in coyotes and wolves and bears that they too may have some small affect on population. If deer are forced to alter  their natural movement patterns, they may be subject to predation and or go on even higher alert for covertness.
Just my thoughts. It would be nice though to have an intense study done.
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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RE: gun season/bow season

Postby shaman » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:53 am

Weak habitat.  Hmmmm.  Interesting thought.

Habitat How-To Page

I'm always touting this page on the Kentucky F&W website, partly because  I know the guy who wrote a lot of these pages and everything he told me to has helped my farm tremendously.  However, give it a look-see.  Wes gave me a lot of ideas that come down to what I would term "controlled neglect." 

As a for instance: by mowing a wider margin around fencelines, you create instant habitat.  Just getting lazy with the mower can have a huge dividend.

You might want to look at knocking over a few trees for browse/cover, strip disking a few patches of pasture to let the forbs grow, doing a controlled burn . . .

 . . . or get the local wildlife biologist in to tell you what to do the way I did. 

One thing I can tell you:  There is a lot written these days regarding food plots.  Food plots are expensive.  I'm not going to say you shouldn't.  However, I will way that food plots should be one of your later tactics.

Back in 2001, I got my farm and was all hot and heavy to do food plots.  I bought $200 worth of seed, but the farmer who does my hay never came around to plant it.  All it did was draw rats, sitting in the barn. Bummer.  Long story short:  I didn't get a food plot of any size in until 2007.  It did draw deer, but not significantly more than the 6 years previous where I was doing things like letting my fencelines go wild.   
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Confessions of a Cervid Serial Killer


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