Our deer season ended yesterday so I guess preparation for the 2020 season-- DS20-- starts now. I had a lot of fun writing a hunting journal here last season, my only regret was that I didnt start it until mid-summer.
Before you can prepare for the next season, you have to reflect on the last. 2019 wasnt my most successful season as far as pounds of meat in the freezer or inches if horn on the wall, but it was my most successful season to date by a mile- particularly my out of state hunts. I had more nice buck encounters, and more mature buck encounters than any season prior. I put lessons learned from past seasons to use and was 100% I was going to let an arrow go during every hunt. I learned some new areas, and I covered some serious ground, hunting 6 counties here in my home state and another on my out of state hunts around 9 hours away. All that despite hunting the same number of days as any other year, 28 hunts. 26 of those with a bow, 2 with the muzzleloader.
All that said, I spread myself too thin hunting so many areas in my home state, taking first time sits to the extreme. Instead of working a few select properties, and squeezing a little tighter and tighter until I got the kill, I bounced from one property to another based on phase of the season, conditions and wind direction. I have complete confidence scouting my way in and doing a first time sit, but I was so mobile I was really just trying to get lucky. I was also giving up on properties too soon. That wasnt the case out of state as my options were a little more limited and it paid off.
I put meat in the freezer, but I missed shots on two bucks, both of which would have been personal bests, and one of which would have been my first P&Y. I practiced my but off in the off season and could make those shots with my eyes closed in practice. But real deer arent block targets. I've gotta pick better shots, and practice even harder. Target panic on the P&Y also has me considering back tension.
I failed to locate a mature buck in the preseason in my home state. It wasnt for lack of effort. I scouted in the spring and summer. I shined 2 to 4 nights a week. I had trail cameras out. If I'm going to shoot a mature buck here, I have to find one first. I need to scout earlier and more often.
I let my trail cameras sit too long between checks. They weren't in anyone's bedroom, there was no reason to leave them alone that long. If I checked them more often, I could have moved them around more and maybe located a mature deer.
I let my guard down. That P&Y I missed at 30yds...well, if I had my act together, I could had a shot at 9yds where he was when I first saw him.
I wasted too.much time finding the right tree to sit in. Scouting my way in means I never knew where I would end up exactly, which meant finding a tree when I found sign I couldnt walk past. There were.a couple instances I spent 30 minutes finding the right tree, leaving an obscene amount of ground scent. One of those times another buck that would have been a personal best hit some of that tree searching ground scent and hung up out of range before backing out.
I hunted more mornings, and I liked them.
I used my full body harness as a saddle with my beast sticks as a platform a half dozen times or so. I loved it, but am going to a saddle in 2020 to increase comfort.
Those were the lessons that are jumping out at me, I'm sure I will think of others as the offseasons progresses. Now it's time to think about winter scouting. Should be able to take a walk on Saturday and see what I see. The number one priority is to locate a mature buck close to home. They're a needle in a haystack, but they're out there. 10/1 will be here before we know it, time to get after it.