In the early season when the weather is stinking hot, deer must have water and have it more often in the early season than they do in the late season. Therefore, I always scout water sources during the early season and look for deer trails coming into and going away from the water. On this particular hunt, I found a heavily-used deer trail leading into a pond. There were enough trees around the pond and close to the pond that I could hang a tree stand there. In just a few minutes after I got set-up, three good bucks went into the shallow pond and started drinking and splashing around in the water. I picked out the best buck. When I looked at him, I saw that he still had a little bit of velvet hanging off his antlers, and his antlers were still bloody from scraping the velvet off them. When the bucks came out of the water, they started walking down the trail that we had assumed they'd walk down. When the best buck was about 20 yards away, I took the shot. Once that buck took the arrow, he took off like moody’s goose - flying high and running loose. After he disappeared, we started tracking that deer for about 1/2- mile. When we finally found the buck that scored 130 inches, I realized I hadn’t made a very good bow shot on the buck. I’d hit him back a little from the shoulder, and my broadhead had only gotten one lung. If you bow hunt very much and bag very-many bucks, you know you don’t always get that perfect broadside shot like you see on outdoor TV shows.
If you're successful while early-season hunting, you have another problem. You’ll need to get that deer field dressed and in a cooler as soon as possible. If we’re hunting around home, as soon as Harold and I take a buck, we field dress him and get him into a walk-in cooler. We let the buck hang in the cooler for about 15 days, because the deer meat becomes tenderer and tastes much better. We like to age our meat before we butcher and eat it. We've found that aging our deer just makes them taste better.
I can think of all the reasons not to hunt deer on the first day of bow season - the weather is hot, the bugs are out, and you'll be sweating and producing a lot of human odor. There's only one reason that I hunt under those conditions. Historically, that reason is that I've been able to find and take some of the biggest bucks I've every harvested on the first day of bow season or the first week of bow season.
Day 3: David Hale and His Early Season Blackpowder Kansas Buck
Tomorrow: 30 Years of Mossy Oak: David Hale