Well, it’s finally (almost) here. The end of Michigan deer season 2020. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. After months of pandemic craziness, I can honestly say I had never looked forward to the bow opener more. So many things were out of our control this year. Businesses shut down, toilet paper became scarce, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to COVID-19. All this to say, that spending hours in the woods watching nature was nothing short of transcendental this fall.
I spent the first few weeks of bow season enjoying some early success. I bagged back to back does on public and private land with my bow. With my freezer full and the pressure off, I set my sights on finding a mature buck to hunt. After three weeks of glassing, hunting, and scouting, I located a good looking eight-point. He seemed to be at least 2.5 years old. Over the next month, I got repeated looks at him, but he was always one step ahead of me. He would show up just after shooting light, or just out of range every time. I continued to get trail camera pictures of him throughout the season, but I lost access to the property when firearm season started.
Speaking of gun season, I decided to head up to the Manistee National Forest and backpack in for a weekend. As I got in and set up camp, the weather quickly turned and a pretty good winter storm set in. While I didn’t see many deer, I did have a great time in the woods and started learning a new DMU I will definitely return to next year.
When I got back home, I readied my .350 legend rifle and hit the public land hard. The pressure on public land this year for rifle season was intense, but I was able to get onto deer a number of different times. One night, I saw a decent public land 6 point and raised my gun to shoot–only to be met with a click and a round that did not ignite. Deciding that an act of God had spared that buck, I chalked it up to random chance and still felt good that I had put myself in the position to take that shot.
December has been a bit slower. I have been out with my bow and muzzleloader. I did get a few more days to hunt the private land buck I found in October, but so far he has not shown back up during daylight.
All in all, I have been happy with the season. I spent as many days in the woods as possible. Also, I gained a lot of confidence and proficiency in the new saddle hunting setup I have been using. My gear is dialed in, though, like most seasons I may change a few things around in the offseason. The big takeaways for me this year have been that next year I need to increase my scouting efforts and put them in overdrive. In a year where I saw a lot of deer, but very few shooter bucks, it is clear that the work done while not actively hunting is what is going to make the difference going forward. When January begins, I will begin hunting a few new spots in the urban deer management zone as I try to stay warm and hopefully locate another mature buck.
How was your season? Let us know in the comments!