For some hunters, first light isn’t always the best option
When most hunters have already left their stands, I am just getting excited about the morning hunt. I abandoned the “get to the stand an hour before sunrise to settle in and get quiet” mode of hunting deer several years ago. Seeing in dim light has always been a challenge for me, so there is no advantage for me to hunt at first light.
I have a tough time aging a deer or counting points in dim light, so why should I risk bumping a deer getting in to my stand in the dark? Deer have good vision, and if they see me, they will surely leave and probably won’t come back. I prefer walking in at first light so I don’t need a flashlight.
From my experience, deer start to bed down after feeding around dawn and then come back out between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to graze, top off, then bed down for the better part of the afternoon.
Plenty of deer are killed long after daybreak
Two seasons ago, I scored two big bucks between 10 and 11 am. And that October, I took my largest deer ever, weighing 201 pounds, 19-inch spread, with eight points right at 11 a.m.
Last season, I did not have as many opportunities to hunt, and I was excited about finally getting in my stand. After an uneventful morning sit, I decided to walk to my husband’s stand, which was about a half-mile away around 10 a.m. His stand had not been hunted at all this season. Unfortunately, he had a ladder fall last year, and would not be able to climb into his stand until his arm healed.
I wished he could have joined me then, as hunting is something we love to do together. He had seen a huge buck the year before at this stand and texted me to try the grunt call to see if I could lure him out. After about 30 minutes of staying quiet and still, I used my doe bleat call and a few minutes later did a short series of grunt calls. To my surprise, I saw movement in the distance!
Look for trophy bucks at all hours of the day during fall
An impressive buck appeared out from the deep end of the trail, walking in as if he was on a mission to find out who was in his territory. I took no time to think about what to do. I couldn’t count points, but this buck’s body size and antler spread gave me the confidence that it was a shooter buck.
I was reasonably sure he would not turn broadside, and the best I could hope for was a neck shot. As soon as he presented a clean neck shot at about 160 yards, I squeezed the trigger, and he went down. I climbed out of the stand, cautiously made my way to the deer to make sure he was not alive and was pleased with my decision to take him.
He was a gnarly mature deer with a distinctive drop tine. He was estimated to be a 4- to 5-year-old deer and would not likely grow any bigger. The rut is about to get serious, and I am eager to get back in the woods and probably will be hunting my favorite time of the day. I am so excited that my hubby will finally be joining in on a hunt in a ground blind. No ladder needed!