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Bowhunting Myths and Things I've Learned

by John Mueller 3. November 2010 11:27
John Mueller

I've been hunting deer for 36 years now and bowhunting for 18 (yeah I'm OLD) so hopefully I've learned a few things in all those years of chasing whitetails. I'll share a few of what I consider "Whitetail Myths" as well as some things I've learned on my own from hunting these deer.

Myths

1. Deer are lazy.

I've heard and read many times that deer are lazy animals. That they will go around ditches and hills instead of crossing them. Deer are not lazy animals. Well maybe if there is only one ditch or hill on a property they will avoid it. But my property is full of hills and the deer are used to going up and down them like they aren't even there. They regularly climb the steepest hillside and ditches just to get to where they are headed. I've sat on the end of hollows waiting for those lazy deer to go around them and seen them cross right through the middle.

2. Deer always....(Fill in the blank)

Deer never always do anything!! I rarely see a deer, especially a buck I'm after, do the same thing twice. There are just to many influences during their daily lives for them to have a set pattern. Different wind directions, coyotes, dogs, hunters, other deer, changing food sources, water sources drying up, weather, I could go on and on. But you get the idea. It's a wonder we ever see the same deer twice.

3. Deer travel with their nose into the wind.

If this were true, in some areas they would only walk in one direction most of the year. I believe deer like to walk with the wind quite a bit and trust their eyes to detect danger in front of them and use their noses for what they can't see behind them. That is what makes playing the wind so tricky when hunting. The deer just don't read the same Hunting Magazines we do.

4. The right camo is very important.

I'm begining to believe the only thing camo is good for is giving the hunter confidence the deer can't see him. I have been busted by deer wearing almost any type of camo standing perfectly still in a tree wider than my body many times. But I have also gotten away with more movement than I could believe dressed in blaze orange in a toothpick sized tree. I think a lot of it goes to the mood of the deer at the time. Sometimes they are so on edge, I think they see danger in every blob. Other times they get really relaxed in their surroundings and they feel comfortable. This seems especially true if they have been there for a while and haven't seen or smelled any danger.

5. Plant a food plot and you can kill a deer every sit.

While hunting over food plots can be productive, it has to be done with care. You cannot continually get busted entering or exiting your stand and expect to see deer in your plot during daylight. Deer pattern us as much as we try to pattern them. You let them know that you arrive at 3:00 and leave at 6:30 every evening and soon they will be arriving at 7:00 or later after you are back at camp.

Lessons learned

1. Don't shoot at nervous deer.

Their vitals may not be in the same place as they were when you released the arrow, when your arrow gets there. I have witnessed this first hand this season on a doe I tried to take on video. She was nervous the whole time she was in my food plot. It took her 30 minutes to close the gap from 60 yards to 33 yards, where I took the shot. She ducked and bolted so fast at the shot that my arrow headed for her lungs ended up hitting her in the top of her neck above her shoulder blade. I'm sure it was just a flesh wound and she maybe had a sore shoulder for a few days. On the other hand, I've shot completely relaxed deer and had the arrow zip through them without them even knowing what just happened. They took a couple of hops and turned back to see what just spooked them. Then their legs get a little wobbley and they tip over. This is a much better outcome.

2. Never underestimate a deers nose.

Most of us know that the deer's nose is its best line of defense. But I continually get amazed at just how good their noses really are. Sure we've all probably had deer "Dead Downwind" of us while hunting and never smelled us. I think this can be attributed to swirling wind currents not allowing our scent to ever get there. Just as often a deer will get nervous when it crosses the path we took to get to our stands hours before wearing scent free rubber boots sprayed with scent eliminator.

3. There are a lot of gimmicks out there.

While there are some products on the market that can help you kill a buck, a lot of the things advertised these days are just gimmicks. Put on the market to make someone a few bucks. The best way to weed through the trash is asking other reliable hunters what has worked for them. There just aren't a whole lot of shortcuts that are worth it when trying to kill a good buck.

4. It's not as easy as they make it to be on TV.

A lot of the tv celebraties get to hunt some special properties where the deer herds are highly managed and great bucks are present in big numbers. The average hunter isn't privilaged to hunt these properties. Also some of these hunters hunt almost every day of the season just to kill a few good deer to get a seasons worth of hunting shows. It may take a months worth of hunting to produce a half hour show. You usually don't get to see all of the extra work involved to get that buck on the ground.

5. Just beacause you get a bucks picture on trail camera, it doesn't mean you'll kill him.

I can't tell you how many great bucks I've gotten trail camera pictures of over the last few years and never even laid eyes on during a whole season of hunting. It is really hard to kill a specific buck if you choose to hunt one based on your trail camera photos. Sometimes I think they just leave an area altogether for reasons unknown.

Hopefully someone learned something from reading this. Some of it is my own opinions and you may not totally agree. But this is what I have learned over the many years of chasing these critters. I'm sure I still have things to learn about them and hopefully they will help me be an even more successfull hunter.




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