When faced with the reality that deer season is fast coming to a close, most deer hunters should take stock of what they’ve accomplished–and what they still want to succeed in–before it’s all said and done. With this in mind, it behooves each of us to have already thought of this ahead of time and kept an option in our back pockets to deal with this impending doom. We wait every year for the deer hunting opportunity to arrive, and it always seems to come and go like the wind, but we can make the most of it by having a plan. The reality is that we don’t always want to change that plan midstream (or midseason, in this case) because it can go against our original thinking.
But for those of us who haven’t scored yet, this may be the only way to finish what we started and put meat in the freezer. We can find meaning and purpose in the season even if we end up eating tag soup instead of venison roast this winter–but let’s not go there just yet! It is said that bettors, when given the opportunity to change their bet, rarely do it. Going against their first instinct will cause them to fail. Well, sometimes it is our first instinct that got us into this predicament in the first place. Change up these components and you’ll likely see your fortunes turn.
While it’s entirely possible that the rub line you’ve been watching the entire season will eventually be revisited by the buck that made it, it’s also possible this deer has long since been alerted to your presence and is long gone. If you keep hunting over an obvious area such as this, the odds are that some deer will show itself. But if you are not seeing the mature buck that made it, there’s a reason for it. Well-used trails can grow cold once the hunting season is open, and pressured areas can push deer into heavier cover while keeping them from moving all that much during the daylight hours. The biggest thing to remember at this time of the year: Hunt where the deer are, not where you think they should be.
This is not so much to say that you should change brands but more so to change the grain of the rounds you are using. You generally want a heavier grain weight to deliver more energy on impact, with the hope of stopping them on the spot. As the season wears on, there is an increased likelihood that any opportunity you get will be at a farther distance–meaning that if you go down in grain weight, you will go up in the speed (FPS), giving your ammo the greater chance to close the distance. A heavier grain load is still traveling at an incredible velocity, but late-season hunting means warier deer that want to stay on the move, and an ammo switch can help with that if you do it right.
There are plenty of regions that allow for the use of muzzleloading firearms to hunt for deer and other wild game. It’s about time that you looked into the world of smoke poles to keep your deer hunting season going when everyone else has put away the rifles and shotguns. No one wants to watch a friend or family member score a late-season buck that was moving once most of the pressure had stopped. Getting into the muzzleloading game isn’t as difficult or expensive as you might think, and it will keep you deer hunting long after most hunters have left the field.
There are all kinds of moods we can get stuck with when deer season is coming to a close. This is where we as deer hunters can be mentally defeated–but there’s still hope. Giving up is not an option, and that is the only real attitude we should have. Making sure to cut out the time to hunt in the late season is something we should all plan for, since most hunters will have taken time off work at the beginning or they’ve already filled their tag and are out of the woods.
Pushing ourselves to hunt further into the season, even when things seem as if they can’t get any better, is the only way to be sure to have that coveted success of a punched tag.