Make early sits count to have some archery success

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

With the Oct. 2-Nov. 5 early archery season scheduled to begin its month-long run tomorrow morning, don't be surprised if a real wall hanger or two gets tagged over the next couple of days.

Because the best chance to tag a record book buck headed for the Boone and Crockett Club and/or the Pope and Young Club listings is arguably the first or second time that a bowhunter climbs into a stand and nocks an arrow.

But don't take my word for it, take the word of Alan Cain, the white-tailed deer program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"Deer hunting is not rocket science," said Cain. "But bucks do get wise to hunters and their activity, that's for sure."

Cain points to a study he came across last year, one that showed that before the season began, deer frequented certain areas — like food plots, bottlenecks, and the such — fairly regularly. But as human intrusion into the woods began to increase, deer movement began to decline.

"Deer movement decreased after that first week or so of hunting," said Cain. "The buck activity definitely changed, they weren't as active or visible around hunting blinds. They somehow know that a hunter is in that blind and they won't come out, they'll wait."

What tips does Cain give bowhunters heading into the 2021 archery season? First, he says to hunt when other hunters aren't in the woods if you can, opting for middle of the week hunts if your job situation will allow for that. Next, focus on native foods like acorns this month in contrast to guarding a corn feeder every time you go out. And finally, always hunt the wind properly and pay attention to your human scent.

"I'd also say know the patterns of the deer on your hunting land, practice shooting, and remember that maybe the best chance you've got to tag a deer coming to your stand is the first or second time you actually climb up into a stand to hunt it," he said.

Because while deer hunting might not be rocket science, big bucks are pretty good at playing it smart and avoiding hunters. Stay one step ahead of them in the woodsy chess game this month, and your odds go way up at finally whispering "Checkmate!" and speed dialing your taxidermist for a quote on a shoulder mount.