Dear Writing Huntress,
This year’s deer season has been a sad one. Rifle started with promise, but I missed an opportunity to take a doe because I figured a buck might have been behind her. Now I’m in the last weeks of archery. Worst yet, my husband already got his deer so he isn’t happy about coming out with me every time. I don’t want to feel like a burden so I’m starting to think that I should just give up. I’ve never hunted alone and at this point, I’m cold, frustrated and angry with myself for not taking that doe. Should I keep hunting or call it quits?
Giving Up in Grace
Dear Giving Up,
Take a couple of calm breaths and think this whole thing through. Late season hunting, especially with a less-than enthused partner, can be frustrating, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, your successes will taste that much sweeter.
Before we get into why quitting now isn’t the best idea, let’s talk about the joy of solo hunting.
A very wise man once told me, “Pretend I’m not here — figure it out yourself.” Cutting as these words seem, the very wise man, my uncle, boss and house-framing instructor, actually helped me to help myself. Uncle Kyle molded me from a girl who had no idea what the little lines meant on a tape measure, to a circular saw and nail gun pro. My go-to, “I don’t know how to do this. Help me!” line got old. I wasn’t as helpless as I made myself out to be, so I did as he said. Soon, I started making decisions and solving problems based on the knowledge I had already gained, combined with a little ingenuity.
Giving Up, solo hunting can be extremely intimidating at first, believe me, I know. But, you’re going to have to depend on yourself to bring home the venison. When your husband expresses the desire to stay home, utilize what you’ve learned to hunt on your own, you’ll surprise yourself with what you already know and the endless lessons you’ll end up teaching yourself.
Remember to hunt cautiously and use common sense when afield by yourself. Ensure that someone knows where you’re hunting and when you expect to be back. If you hunt in an area that doesn’t get cell reception, invest in a SPOT Gen 3 personal emergency locator beacon for increased safety.
Hunting this late in the season can be advantageous if you can brave the elements. I just stepped off the snowmobile that got me to my blind via a closed, snowed-in road. Did I mention it’s -10 degrees? I have a few more weeks left in archery season and even though I’d like to stay inside, I know hunting deer during the late season is worth it.
Reasons why to hunt during late season
Gun season is largely over. Hence, deer aren’t feeling the hunting pressure they did this time last month, when gunshots and loud pickup trucks scared them into hiding.
It’s cold and, unless you live in Florida, snowy. This is ideal weather for deer hunting. Once the white stuff starts falling, deer begin carving snowy highways to and from their favorite areas, making them easier to pattern.
Deer are hungry post-rut. If their main food source has been harvested or covered with a foot of snow, baiting will serve your last-ditch efforts wonderfully. If you are legally able and not completely against it, putting a pile of corn or apples near a heavily traveled trail will keep deer coming. There also is the second rut. Find out when that occurs in your neck of the woods, and be there for it.
Giving Up, don’t let your season end on a sour note. Instead of wondering, “Why didn’t I take that doe?” You’ll be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I hunt until the very last day?” Hard work pays off chiefly during late-season deer hunting. You may get cold and frustrated, but even if you don’t end up with that wall hanger, you’ll know you gave it your best shot. Who knows, a deer may walk out at the perfect moment and you’ll be able to say you hunted hard all season to harvest meat for the freezer on the last day.
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