This coming Monday, Dec. 10, sees the opening of the special muzzleloader and late archery season. That season closes Dec. 18, giving hunters with the appropriate licenses eight extra days to pursue deer. Obviously, if the weather stays sour and cold, it will have a negative effect on both the number of hunters afield as well as the deer harvest. Both types of hunting normally require hunters to either take up watches along deer travel routes or still-hunt at a snail's pace, both of which are a challenge when it's cold and nasty.
Of the two methods, archery presents the biggest challenge since it involves drawing and then accurately releasing an arrow despite the cold conditions and deer that were made extra wary by weeks of already being hunted. The muzzleloading hunter has it easier, but there are hurtles unique to hunting with a muzzleloader that modern gun hunters need not be all that concerned with. Paramount is the fact the hunter gets just one shot when or if the opportunity presents itself, and there's also the chance of a misfire. And despite modern in-line designs, no muzzleloader is as accurate or as long range as modern centerfire rifles. Generally, any shots over 100 yards are iffy at best, despite the claims made by some manufacturers and a few hunters.
Bowhunters brave enough to take advantage of the late bonus season encounter a far different environment than they did during the regular archery season. For one thing, the technique of hunting from a tree stand can be a real ordeal if it's cold and windy. Also, if there's a snow covering, deer are more apt to spot the hunter before they get within bow range. Even if the deer doesn't initially spook, the bowhunter will probably alert and spook it when he tries to draw. And when it's below freezing, the draw-weight of a bow is increased due to its parts becoming frozen. That, coupled with cold muscles and heavy clothing, can often make what is normally an easy draw-and-release into a grunt-and-strain one.