In 11 days, many of you will grab your bows and head to the woods in search of whitetail deer. The opening of bow season is by far my favorite time of the year. As the warm afternoons of September transition into the cool windy days of fall, the leaves change colors and begin to fall, and bucks who recently shed their velvet march around the woods at dawn and dusk. Groups of does and their fawns cautiously wake up and leave their beds to feed at the first sign of the sun beginning to set.
What is it about whitetail deer that inspires so many to go to such lengths to hunt them? The landscape in Michigan is filled with black bear, small game, elk, dozens of different species of waterfowl, turkeys, and many species of upland birds. The whitetail, though, occupies a place in our soul, unlike any other animal. Maybe its the fact that we have grown up with these animals around. Whitetail deer are the iconic symbol of the woods. Everyone has been somewhere in Michigan where they have seen deer trophies on the wall. Those who would never dream of hunting perk up at the sight of a pair of shed antlers on the forest floor. Even the most hardened heart person can often be caught staring at deer making their way through a field. The way they move through the landscape, their ability to adapt to any environment, and their sheer size all add to their allure.
As common as sightings of does are, the buck is a different story. King of the forest, he spends most of his time cautiously avoiding any potential danger. Never bedding down with the herd of deer he is always somewhere nearby, but in a location where he can sense any danger before it reaches him. Those who refer to deer as “stupid animals” or “overgrown squirrels” have never tried to hunt a mature buck. They have never seen a 4-year-old with massive antlers circle around a blind or treestand to approach only from the downwind side. An animal that will cease all movement during daylight hours if danger gets too close.
Every once in a while though, you may get a shot at that trophy buck. The early October cold front that comes in, the right tree stand location, the wind that is suddenly in your favor. Hunting a trophy buck is like anything worthwhile in life. If you are honest and ethical, if you work hard and fight through adversity, and if you make the right decisions you put yourself in a position to take advantage of luck when it finally turns in your favor. When it happens you had best be ready. You better have an arrow nocked and your nerves under control. There will not be a second chance. Hunting mature whitetail deer is one of the greatest adventures I have ever embarked on. Get your bows ready! October is almost here.