Gun Season Tips and Strategies for Whitetail
Gun season means more hunters in the woods and increased pressure on deer herds; be prepared to relocate stands to a few key areas to increase your harvest success odds
This deer gun season hunter set up a stand in a secure-cover location to increase chances for success. (Jeremy Flinn photo)
With many states’ deer gun seasons soon to open or already open, it’s important to consider the proper strategy to be successful during this type of deer hunting.
During this time, bowhunters will cling to a strategy based on what they have been seeing all season. But with changing deer behavior – again – and the dramatic increase in hunting pressure, those strategies could turn cold with the arrival of gun season.
As a hardcore bowhunter myself, it’s hard for me to get away from the stands and spots I have put so much time and effort into. My gun hunting spots are areas I never visit leading up to gun season. If I have used the spot before, it would be from past gun seasons.
Regardless, there is a reason for this. My bow spots are not favorable for gun hunting. Private or public land, it doesn’t matter, I set up a bowhunting spot for bowhunting opportunities. These are usually tight areas and somewhat away from other hunters.
As gun season opens, the pressure from other hunters will drive deer to more secure cover. Now this doesn’t mean all your gun spots need to allow for shots of 100 yards or more, you may be in tight quarters, but the distance or ease of getting into these spots is likely more challenging than your bowhunting spots.
Let’s say you don’t have to worry about other hunters on your land as much, there is still pressure on neighboring properties. With that in mind, think about how deer will travel when pushed from surrounding lands. My go-to spots are often thick, secure bedding areas or travel corridors. These spots tend to have many deer move through during gun season and will likely give you the best chance for a harvest.
Though patience is always a plus when on the deer stand, if you are hunting a large tract of timber, don’t rule out on-the-ground still-hunting. For me, it’s like fishing. I’d rather wade through a stream or river over sitting on the bank of a lake.
It’s constant action and I need to constantly be evolving to changing conditions. The same goes with still-hunting. The slow movement through the woods, stopping, observing and analyzing can be pretty exciting. Not to mention you cover a lot of ground, and likely will see a lot of deer. At the very least consider it a scouting mission, and getting some of the best information possible on the land you are hunting.
This gun season, look to spots where deer will move to as they get pressured. Break out an aerial and topographical map, and come up with a strategy to tag a buck. The more effort you put in prior to the hunt, the more likely it will all pay off.