Final prep for firearms deer season

October 13, 2014

Faith Outdoors

I slept like a rock last night, as I knew I would. Fitful slumber came as a result of a full day of hard work in the field.

Our deer hunting party spent the day making final preparations for the firearms deer season, which begins on Saturday, Nov. 8. Our stands that we have set up near Red Wing are now ready to go.

It’s a nice feeling to get the work done four weeks before the opener. I think that’s the earliest we have ever gotten things ready. Now, we can leave our stands alone and allow them to be undisturbed for almost a whole month.

But, that’s not the whole story. One thing I have learned is that human presence plays a HUGE role in what happens on opening day. On a few occasions, deer will act they way they do when they’re undisturbed, but come opening day, that often is the exception rather than the rule.

First, there’s activity before the gun season from other hunters in the areas we hunt, either bow hunting or doing work on their stands for the gun season. Second, and far more important, there’s the activity of other hunters in the field once the hunt begins.

We have been messed up by this so many times over the years. Things look all nice and quiet during our scouting trips, then the woods come alive with hunters once the firearms season opens.

In fact, it almost never fails. Thus, I am not misled by the peace and quiet we experienced yesterday. In just four weeks, the armada of deer slayers will descend upon the whitetail’s world and create lots of chaos.

Of course, it can get very frustrating when other hunters show up nearby, like last year, when my brother Paul had a guy walk along the edge of the woods, look up at him, then duck into the woods and set up just down the hill. Paul later heard a gunshot from that spot, and instantly recognized that this guy had set up very close to him.

But, it can work the other way, too, like the time my friend Bernie heard some shots over the hill on a neighboring property, then saw a beautiful 10-point buck bound over the hill and right to him. The two shots he took to bring down the buck likely wouldn’t have been possible if that deer hadn’t been bumped by the hunters on that property.

Bottom line — the behavior of other hunters is often the wild card that can make or break the hunt. We have been hunting these properties for about a dozen years, and we have seen other hunters come and go. We’ve had some good opening days, and some really slow ones. The one card I play during the firearms season that often works is hunting on weekdays. There are a ton of “weekend warriors” who stay out of the woods during the week, and that often provides some great opportunities. I have scored on deer often enough during the week to view weekday hunts as a great Plan B for filling my tags.

This year, things could be even quieter during the week thanks to a one-deer limit in the zone where we hunt. We are in Zone 341, which this year is called Hunter’s Choice, meaning only one deer can be harvested for the entire season, either buck or doe. That means if hunters get a deer with their bow, they won’t have a tag for the firearms season and can only party hunt for a doe. And, gun hunters who get a deer on opening weekend will have the same situation.

So, by the time the weekdays of the gun season arrive, a lot of hunters could be tagged out. And, more than likely, they’ll have a tough time finding someone with a tag to join them in the field during the week.

In fact, I may be in that situation myself. If I tag a deer with my bow before the gun season opens, my only option will be party hunting for a doe. The good news is, with five of us in the party plus one of the landowners with a license, we should have plenty of tags available. We have never filled out yet, so I’m sure we’ll have tags for whoever needs them.

With the rut most likely peaking in early November, I’m hoping for some good hunts ahead!


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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek