THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS a bow hunter needs are vast. Not only must you do the right thing at the right time, but you must do several things simultaneously with ease.
With all that’s going on, you should not worry about whether the deer is going to wind you. You should have already thought out that concern before you leave your house for your hunt.
I cannot over-stress the importance of being as scent-free as possible. Most big bucks are very wary during the short journey from their bedding site to the food plot. They take their time and sniff everything along the way, searching for the familiar human smell that has permeated their area in recent weeks.
The following are some practical scent control steps that few consider. They will help you bag your deer instead of scare it away.
Scent Free Soap: I make sure I keep myself clean, especially before every hunt. Remember to shower with a scent-free soap and do not forget your hair.
Human hair will hold a scent for a long time and you should take precautions against that. As far as clothing goes, you should wear a scent absorbing suit and some kind of scent-wicking material when you head out to hunt.
Use Rubber: 16 to 18 inch rubber boots are a must, as well as rubber gloves, particularly when handling anything near your stand. Keep in mind that you need to buy your boots well before hunting season begins to lose the “new” rubber smell.
It always brings a smile to my face if I walk through an Academy store the day before the start of bow hunting season and see guys purchasing their new boots. I guarantee they will smell like a Goodyear factory and every deer in the county will steer clear of his tree stand. You have to give those brand new boots time to lose that new boot scent.
Spray Equipment: Remember you should not only spray your clothes down with a scent eliminator, but your equipment as well. Too many times I hear stories of guys who carry a decoy out to their spot, set it up, and then climb in their stands waiting for the magic to happen.
If they don’t wear rubber gloves during the setup process or remember to spray the decoy down with a scent eliminator, the only magic they will see is a deer vanishing in the woodlot.
Know Your Winds: Know your prevailing winds in the area and set up your stand accordingly. Ideally, you should approach your stand with the wind in your face. Of course you cannot always do that, but you should, at least, approach it with a crosswind.
You need to determine where the deer are at what time of the day and use that knowledge to approach your tree stand. If the wind is just not cooperating, either hunt a different stand or go to the movies and stay out of the woods completely.
Better not to hunt that day than to have a deer wind you and know right where you are. Believe me, if it’s a mature whitetail, he will not soon forget your location, and he will avoid it for the rest of the hunting season.
—story by LOU MARULLO
THERE ARE FEW THINGS more heartbreaking for a hunter than to lose an animal you’ve shot.
There are times even with the best-placed shot that deer are lost, especially in super dense cover. But in many of these cases there is a way to solve this problem.
I am talking about trailing dogs.
Highly trained blood-trailing dogs can find deer that we can’t. This can be an invaluable asset for serious hunters who hunt in seriously thick habitat.
“More and more hunters and ranchers are wanting to do everything they can do recover their deer, especially those once-in-a-lifetime trophy bucks and a well-trained dog can make that happen,” said Wendy Hallenbeck of Thistle Ridge Terriers
Hallenbeck and her husband specialize in game recovery dogs and have a long history with Jack Russell Terriers in particular.
“We are very serious about breeding for specific traits and training dogs for guides and ranches, and the demand continues to grow,” she said.
In the past, their dogs have found deer the day after they were hit and there have been many deer found that traveled much farther than most would think possible.
Although these dogs are effective, they are not actually legal in all parts of the state. For example, it is illegal to use dogs to trail wounded deer in Angelina, Hardin, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, and Tyler counties. These were the core counties for deer-dog hunting. This has long-since been banned, but still a remnant pursue deer in that fashion.
Not more than two dogs may be used to trail a wounded deer in counties not listed above. A “wounded deer” is defined as a deer leaving a blood trail.
According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, “A person is prohibited from using a dog to hunt or pursue deer in this state. A person who violates this law is subject to a fine of $500 to $4,000 and/or a year in jail.”
Additionally, a person’s hunting and fishing licenses may be revoked or suspended. Also, no person may possess a shotgun and buckshot or slugs while in the field with dogs on another person’s land during an open deer season in the counties listed above.
Many law-abiding hunters believe the law is antiquated and prohibits them from doing everything they can to find their deer.
If you use trailing dogs, make sure you are in the right counties and abide by the letter of the law.
—story by CHESTER MOORE