At the halfway mark, this year's deer season stands about where it usually does at this point – far fewer hunters and fewer deer sightings by those that are still hunting. In a year which sees Thanksgiving follow on the heels of opening day, as it did this year, by the beginning of the second week of the firearms season, hunter numbers drop off rather sharply. This is understandable since many hunters take vacation or time off from work the opening week.
Once opening week is over, you normally won't encounter that many deer hunters on any given weekday. Those final two weeks can often be the most satisfying time for hunting unpressured deer. And once the firearms season has ended and the special late muzzleloader and archery seasons open, hunters are at a premium, especially if the snow is deep and the temperatures are frigid.
Reportedly, opening week's deer harvest was good, but nearly two weeks remain in the firearms season, and it will be the full season's harvest that will indicate whether hunters took too many or not enough antlerless deer in our WMU 7M, and whether the DEC will have to readjust their DMP numbers up or down for next year's season.
Few big game animals can test hunters' skills and resolve more completely than whitetails. Despite their widespread availability and abundance, mature whitetail bucks have an uncanny ability of avoiding hunters and traditional deer hunting methods and approaches. Often, the taking of the biggest bucks falls into the category of luck – the hunter being in the right place at the right time (or even the wrong place, but at the right time).
That said, does luck play a major role in successful deer hunting? The answer is a definitive maybe, depending on the area being hunted and the degree of hunting pressure there. But there's little question that the hunters who do the most preseason scouting, while also understanding and digesting the signs they encounter, increase their odds of successfully taking a mature buck, especially on opening day.