With the bowhunting season for Southern Zone deer underway now (it opened Oct. 18), the biggest challenge facing the majority of bowhunters is less about getting the ideal in-range fatal shot at a whitetail and more about being able to withstand the many hours normally required before it happens, if at all.
Unlike other forms of hunting – be it for small or big game – bowhunting for deer is a waiting game. The hunter usually chooses to hunt from a tree stand overlooking a well-used deer run or a prime feeding area such as the fringe of a corn or alfalfa field, apple orchard, or white oak grove containing plenty of mast (acorns). Obviously the optimum hours to be on stand is early and late in the day when deer tend to be moving to and from bedding and feeding areas. But seeing a deer and seeing one that's within effective bow range and unaware of the hunter's presence are two vastly different experiences. The latter may only occur only once out of several deer sightings, even in an ideal stand location, so the rest of the hours become a waiting game.
It's not unusual for even an experienced bowhunter to have to sit his or her stand for many hours each week ... even though deer are seen, but none present a good archery opportunity. And with each passing hour and day, all those hours begin to take their toll. Thoughts of moving to a different location become more demanding, the tendency to begin fidgeting rather than sitting stone-still becomes more commonplace, and the hunter becomes more distracted by anything that moves or makes noise nearby. The sound of a squirrel bounding through the dry leaves suddenly causes an adrenalin surge and then a letdown when it's identified. Conversely, the sounds of an approaching deer may be dispelled as "just another false alarm" until it appears just when the hunter least expects it and is often caught totally off-guard.