How to avoid this season-destroying mistake.
These days the lightweight, ninja-like, Run-N-Gun style bow hunting is all the rave. And for good reason. Whether packing a small stand, or running the new fad of a featherweight saddle, this stripped-down technique can really get you opportunities a traditional style bowhunting setup cannot. The benefits are many, however there are some negatives to this style of hunting, and one flaw, or trap that a hunter can fall into that will destroy chances at harvesting a good whitetail. So let’s take a look at this often overlooked season destroyer and see how you can avoid it.
The idea of being mobile is very attractive. You can literally just walk in the woods, anywhere, without ever having set foot in an area, and hunt. However, this is the big problem, and it’s what I call the Kamikaze Hunt. The problem is with this mentality of being so mobile, that you push into areas so deep that you have no good way or plan to get out. These hunts then become one way missions, one time hunts, that ruin an area either on the way in (due to over enthusiasm), or due to not being able to extract yourself in a low-profile manner.
THE PROBLEM - the big problems come in 3 forms:
1. Overshooting - when you go in somewhere blind that you’ve never been before, you are unfamiliar with the lay of the land, the sign you’ll find, and the size of certain features present. Let’s say for example you are going into a swamp bedding area. As you push in you look for sign, look for intersection trails, and look for the perfect ambush. You have to constantly decide what is too far, where to stop, or if you should keep going. The draw for me is always to go deeper. It’s tempting, and many times hard to stop where you are due to the lure of the unknown “better spot” ahead. The problem I’ve run into several times is that you can actually blow past the spot you should hunt. You can bust too far into the areas deer actually are bedded leaving extra scent and sounds that blow out an area completely. Sometimes, you can get to the other side realizing you just walked through the spot you should have hunted. Hunt over.
2. Leaving an impact - when you have never been into or out of an area sometimes you can get trapped walking through less than desirable cover. Brush and tangles that smack and clang our stand, sticks, other gear, and rip against clothing create hunt-busting noise. This can easily happen on the way in, but is many times more likely to happen on the way out in the dark. It’s almost unavoidable. It is usually impossible to take the same exact path out, and finding the least intrusive route is nearly impossible many times. Excess noise and scent is left in this “bull in the china shop” type exit, making your one hunt the only hunt in that area.
3. Lack of strategy - just walking in and finding a “good spot” is not enough strategy for a good hunt and to keep an area low impact enough to hunt multiple times. However, this is the tempting rut many Run-N-Gun style hunters fall into. This can lead to bad setups in bad areas. This wasted time on hunts can be season destroying, as wasting precious hunting time on bad areas does not get you closer to your goal (besides eliminating areas), and you only get so much time in a season.
THE SOLUTION - PREPARATION.
Like it or not, Run-N-Gun does not mean you don’t need to prepare. Actually, it means you should prepare more since you are typically invading areas where mistakes are not tolerated. You simply have less room for error with this style of hunting. To avoid the dreaded Kamikaze, one and done hunt (unless it is planned that way, which I suggest is only a last resort), there are several things you need to do.
1. Preseason prep - ideally, these deep areas you are going into should be thoroughly scouted in the winter or spring. Know what the area sets up like, how the deer use it, and which tree or trees you will possibly use for the coming season. This way when you go in you know exactly where you are going, don’t overshoot, and can get in and out in a stealthy manner. Also, evaluating and preparing your entry and exit routes, and actually practicing walking them in/out will greatly decrease noise you would make wandering in areas you haven’t been in before. If legal, trimming these areas out will
also decrease hunt-busting noise made going through thick areas, and also prepping your gear with silencing wraps like Buck Bumper will greatly help eliminate gear noise during transit and setup/teardown of stands.
2. Same day prep - if you happen to be going into a new area that you have not been in pre-season, then analyzing the area via maps, apps, and by visually driving nearby roads is needed. This can help you map out your proposed entry and exit routes, giving you a plan for success and added chance to decrease blowing past your target area, making unneeded noise, and leaving unneeded scent on your way in and way out. As you do this, make sure to evaluate and make your best guess of route’s deer will likely take on their way out so you can avoid this. Keeping these things in mind will help you avoid this season-destroying mistake of Run-N-Gun hunters.
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