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How Deer Hunting has Changed

With the opening of archery deer season last week, it’s safe to say that deer hunting will be a common topic when a bunch of hunters get together. Recently some deer hunting friends and I found ourselves discussing how deer hunting has changed over the years; I guess that’s also a sign that we were all old enough to remember that there was a “different approach” to deer hunting.

In the “old days” my archery hunting was done with a recurve bow and most of the time I still-hunted, that is I moved very slowly and cautiously through the woods with frequent motionless stands in hopes of sighting a deer and getting a decent shot. Archery hunting while on the ground is a tough way to hunt deer with a bow so like a lot of other guys whenever possible I scrambled up a tree and put a couple of boards across some limbs or simply found a good limb to stand on while leaning against the tree. It was a crude set up, but I actually killed several deer from my ‘tree stand”.

In the “old days” much of my hunting was done on public land or on property where I had permission to hunt; in those days gaining permission was usually not much of a problem. If you were able to do any scouting it was done in person and not with a camera. Scouting in person of course had its setbacks but it was often the only way to find out where and what deer were in the area you planned to hunt.

Needless to say, scouting in person has largely gone by the wayside; sure a hunter may check out an area on occasion but the camera is now the way to go. Having a few cameras or maybe even a dozen or more strapped to trees will tell you a whole lot about the spot where they are located. Cameras are often left out year around and many hunters actually watch the development and growth of the various bucks over the season. It’s not unusual for big old bucks to have names these days- “Broken Brow Tine” or “Old Eight by Six”. In the “old days” you had no idea what you were going to see and the first decent buck you saw was a potential target even though you didn’t know his name. If you don’t own your own property and you don’t make use of cameras that same concept probably still holds true.

Another big difference today is that many landowners make use of planted food plots that often draw and keep deer in the general area. Planted food plots are legal; it is not the same as baiting which is illegal. I don’t own any hunting property but when I hunt on a farm where I have permission, I do try to take advantage of any crops that deer may be utilizing.

In the “old days” we stood by a tree or sat on a log and deer drives with voices echoing through the woods on the first day were common; these are fairly rare occurrences these days. Treestands have overtaken the woods and countryside. Treestands range from a simple ladder with a small platform to an enclosed structure with ample seating, adjustable windows all the way around and even some form of heat. The fact is most hunters today are relatively stationary and with less hunter movement that may be why we sometimes see less deer scampering through the woods. The truth is treestands are very effective and I much prefer even my simple climbing stand when it comes to drawing back my compound bow on an approaching deer.

Speaking of bows we have come a long way from the old recurve bow. Today’s bows, and I’m talking about bows that must be drawn back when the hunter prepares to shoot are more powerful and with practice very accurate; bear in mind however they must be drawn and held in the presence of your quarry and aiming is not accomplished with a scope and crosshairs. I know, the crossbow has become very popular these days but the term “cross-gun” might be more descriptive. The crossbow does have its place and when I can no longer pull back my compound I may have to suck it up and put the crosshairs on “Old High Tines” while hunting from my heated “treestand” next to the food plot where I have been watching daily an assortment of bucks for the past three months.

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