Hunting in the heat.

I was always so hot on the idea of rolling back the start of bow season from early or mid October to September. Then Kentucky did just that. The result? I start hunting about the first weekend in October. Why? The heat.

Last year, they took a total of 39 deer in September in my county. That’s pretty pitiful. I know that’s not for trying too. The deer just stay holed up during the day and do not move. They have their Winter coats coming in, and the last thing they want to do is exert themselves while the sun is up. If they are to be seen at all, it will be just before the end of legal light.

I spend most of September scouting and hunting squirrels. I try to make my last trips to my stands around Labor Day, and then leave them alone for that next month. I figure that if I leave mine alone, and everyone else is hunting fruitlessly, they will just push more deer onto my spread.

So what happens when there is a warm period later in the year. It used to be that wise men would say “It’s gonna take a cold snap to get these buck to start ruttin’. ” We now know that is not true. Bucks rut when bucks rut. It happens about the same time each year. The difference is whether they rut during the day, when they can be pursued by legal means or at night when good hunters are in bed. You sure can’t wait for next month.

What do you do when Indian Summer hits? Concentrate on those last few minutes of daylight. Most of my bow-shot bucks were tagged in October when it was relatively warm during the last few minutes of light. When it’s warm, be willing to stay until you can’t see your sights. Hunt the stands that offer the best chance of picking up a deer on its way to the evening feed. That usually means a stand in the staging areas where deer mull about, waiting for the heat of the day to dissipate.

What does that mean? I love camping, and I love campers. I love nothing better than going out to a crowded campground in summer and watching suburbia without walls. However, the peak of unbearable heat is usually around 4 to 6 PM, when simple shade no longer cuts it. The sun is still at a high enough angle to keep the temperature at or near the daytime high. That’s the time I usually traipse into the woods behind my campsite with a magazine and sit, enjoying happy hour. At that time of day, the moisture of the margin of the woods is played out; the ability of the sun-drenched trees to act as air conditioning is expended. At that time, it is only in the deeper woods, well back from the field edges, that I can find comfort. I stay there and read and listen to the activities at the other campsites, and I wait for the sun to go down and the temperature to drop before I come back to the picnic table and begin making dinner. I cannot believe that deer would want to do otherwise.

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