Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to bow hunt in Massachusetts

As I'm traveling across the country I see many people surprised that I hunt in Massachusetts. I travel a lot to the southern states and they're always talking about ranch deer, and muleys etc. I start talking about hunting in Massachusetts and people think I'm crazier than I look.

There's a bunch of different ways to approach hunting in Massachusetts. You can listen to all the doubters who will tell you that there are less dear per square mile in Massachusetts than pretty much any other state in the U.S. but that's not going to help. If you're from Massachusetts and you can't afford an out of state license you're stuck with hunting what god gave us for land. In the following few paragraphs I will break down what it will take to land a buck worth bragging to your friends about.

1. Scout
If I could choose one step to be an effective hunter it would be to scout until you cannot scout any more. Not to knock on Field & Stream or other deer hunting magazines but let's face it... we're hunting Massachusetts not some deer infested land in Kansas. We need to scout, and by scout I mean visibly see the deer, spook them, jump them, do whatever you need to do to figure out there are DEER in the spot you're going to hunt. I have never shot a deer in Massachusetts without seeing him days prior. I typically scour the woods in Holland, Massachusetts and I will walk the land until I see some actual live deer. I stop at scrapes to see how fresh they are but typically I do not decide to hunt a spot unless I see actual whitetails. This is a common mistake of a Massachusetts hunter. Typically a hunter will sit, and sit, and sit, and sit until his feet are frozen and his boogers are freezing in his nostrils. Go for a walk, find where the deer are bedding, leave the deer alone for three days or so and they will return!

2. Get in atleast 30 minutes before the sunrise
Once you've identified where the deer are by actually SEEING them during the day, then you know where you need to be in the morning. I suggest you get up at 5 depending on how long it takes to get out of bed, showered, dressed and to your spot. For me I like to be in my spot as early as legally possible, 30 minutes before sunrise. I want to be in my climber or one of my stands and silent for 20 minutes before the sun starts to show itself. This is the time the deer are the most active so it's important to be quiet setting up your stand and silent once you're set up. The deer will soon be coming. It's not a bad idea to increase the probability of success by placing your stand in between where you last saw the deer and the main water source (river, stream, etc.).

3. Do not leave your stand until atleast 11AM
If I had a penny for everytime I left my stand at 9 o'clock and I see a few deer on my way back to my truck I'd be the richest man writing for this blog. In Massachusetts if you're leaving the woods before 11AM you're missing out on deer. Once you've established the spot where you've seen the deer, you are expecting them to return. You should be in before sunrise, and sitting silent for a long time. Don't fall asleep in your stand that will NOT fill your freezer. At 11AM if your feet and hands are cold there's no sense sitting out there any longer. I would suggest leaving the woods to get some food and returning around 2PM. If you're serious about your hunting, stay in the woods all day.

If you're trying to get into your stand before the sunrise try not to use a flashlight. If for some reason you slept through your alarm and you're trying to get to your stand at or slightly after the sunrise be sure to keep low to the ground. I'm not sure exactly why it works, but stalking on all fours is an effective way to navigate a deer infested area without jumping the deer. Don't believe me? Try it!

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