by Duane Fronek
I recently had an interesting conversation with a very knowledgable Huntress, Skye Goode of western WI. She had been out bowhunting and commented on how much the deer were moving that night despite what some of the so called experts claim is a bad time to be out hunting because the deer wouldn't be moving. Why? Because of the high 25+ mph winds that were howling that evening. Skye noted that the deer were everywhere despite the wind, shooting may be a challenge from a tree waving in the wind like a flag, but none the less the deer were out and about. Skye mentioned she sees things like this happen often, what is claimed as gospel turns out to not be so. And myself I couldn't agree more.
I call it the "Always and Never" myth or rut. So many times we hear the phrase "this always happens" or "this never does" and/or "Always do this" and "Never do that" and its usually from those that claim they've seen it all. When I hear people use those two words when it comes to hunting or trapping it makes me question the level of the individuals experience. And for new recruits to hunting it can be a real hinderence because they are putting their faith in what that individual is telling them and can leave them in a rut and eventually keep them from reaching their goals and improving their skills and knowledge making a longer learning curve.
So what made Skye go out and hunt in those condition despite what she's heard. Well for one she's dedicated and its in her blood, but the other is this, she thinks outside the box and she knows her quarry. Why would an animal that depends on it sense of smell and keen hearing sit like a duck in conditions that severely hinder your senses for survival. No, your gonna be on the move, edgey and wary. Scents and sounds in high winds and the animals ability to use its assests in those conditions is severely dimished. So the claim that deer dont move in high winds is false as is claimed by some as I have witnessed as well.
Thinking outside the box and using common sense and our own experiences and observations can make us more successful in out smarting the quarry we persue. There are so many variables out there in the wild world that there really isnt a blanket statement for much of what happens out there.
Take for example, and this may ruffle some feathers, but the wait and let the animal bleed out after a hit before you persue it. Maybe a short wait to collect yourselves after the initial adrenelin rush. But its been my experience to get on that animal right away especially if you didnt see it go down. Why? The longer that animal has to rest the more likely the blood will clot and stop bleeding externally. Take for example a coyote I tracked that was marginally hit at the elbow. It was partially snow covered ground and while tracking this animal I seen where this particular coyote would put that leg into the snow and wait till it was kicked up again and each time the blood trail was lighter and lighter. We did get to that coyote and when we did we found that wound was partially froze and the bleeding looked to have stopped. I dont look at tracking as following the bread crumbs to the prize, I use and look at tracking as a way to keep that animal bleeding out as fast as possible. Ive tracked alot of animals deer and bear for others over the years and found the longer they left that animal the more difficult the retrieval. When an animal is out of gas its out of gas and that faster you can make that happen the better off you'll be. I'll be writing more on tracking in another article, so lets move along.
Another one of those things that ''never" happens is getting a second crack at a deer in the same spot you missed the day before. I've had it happen three times that I recall where I missed a buck and spooked him only to come back the next day to the same stand and hunt and the missed buck comes back down the same trail same time or close to it and this time I connect. Why? Because animals are creatures of habit and routine. The only thing different that each of these animals did, was when they approached the spot the arrow missed them, they just made a wide berth around the spot. Two of the three instances I got the buck. The third went behind me. My point is this. Many times I've heard if you miss and spook a particular deer you wont get a second chance. And again I've found thats not always the case.
Or take for instance when it comes to trapping, canines for example. You've heard it said to keep things clean, use clean traps with no rust, dont spit or pee around a set. Although as a general rule this is true to an extent but there is a lot of lead way. I use to be very meticulous about clean trapping to the point it bordered on insanity when it came to canines. I wore hip boots, rubber cloves, traps clean enough to be used in surgery if need be,lol. But I still wasn't connecting like I wanted and couldn't figure out why. I was doing everything the experts claimed, always wear rubber boots and gloves, never set a trap with rust etc. Then I started thinking more about this stuff harder, did I really have to go and re-dye and wax all my traps because I got stuck waiting behind a potato truck pouring black smoke down on me for 15 min. in traffic. (that really happend) the answer was no and it was slowly coming to me, I started thinking outside the box and looking at what is really happening in my case. First I was wearing so much rubber to keep from being detected by that fox or coyote that I sweat more on the line, giving off even more human scent. So I start dressing more comfortable, wearing my hunting boots wearing leather gloves etc. I once had a fellow trapper along and he watched me smooth out a set with my bare hands that a deer messed up. He said you touched that set bare handed aren't you worried about scent. I said no. The next day he got to see a coyote bouncing in that set and he said he would have never believed it if he hadn't of seen it. So many times we believe too much of what we hear it actually hinders our success. Take for example about the fact of human scent and not peeing around a set, yet how many trappers set traps at farm gates back in the fields. The trapper might not relieve himself there, but just about every farmer and farmhand does when opening a gate if the need arises. Yet thousands of canines are caught at those locations every year. And the rust issue when it comes to traps, theres rusted wire, fence posts, hardware all over farm fields buried over the years but you don't see coyotes digging them up. One other fact about human scent, its all over in the woods in the fall from bird hunters to deer hunters, we just need to understand whats detrimental and whats tolerated.
So what does all this mean? Simply, think for yourself and outside the box. There are basics in hunting and trapping, but there is a lot more gray area that varies in each situation. Test what you hear, try what your gut tells you regardless of what you heard. I've learned more from my mistakes than I have from my successes and to be honest I would not trade my mistakes for anything, they taught me a lot that has been invaluable over the years that have improved my successes. I've also found a lot of times that gut feeling is spot on and its in all of us.
So the next time you hear a self proclaimed pro telling you never or always when it comes to this or that, really think about it and compare it to what you've seen or experienced. You just may realize the answers you seek are in you and like Skye and others like her you'll be further ahead and have the edge over the competition and the quarry you persue. And the other is that feeling of accomplishment in becoming a better hunter and/or trapper. Let me leave you with one last thing to think about. The next time you go buy yourself a $5 stick of hunting deodorant/anti-perspirant just compare the ingredients to the $2 name branded unscented ones. I think you'll be surprised. Good luck!
A second chance buck. I missed him the day before, got him the same spot the next day. A nice 9 pt. 198#