It simply hadn’t happened before, the path made by the old, wise doe.
And with it, came little appreciation for the likelihood that the long-proven patterns of deer in this area of my farm had indeed changed.
It wasn’t until after I saw more deer, including a fine 8-point buck, make the same route from a common bedding area and into the hardwoods, that I realized deer aren’t behaving the same as they had for many years.
Even after briefly scouting the new, well-established trails on this new route well away from my faithful stand, it was hard to consider a change needed to be made. You see, many bucks have passed by this stand over the years, and no fewer than three bucks have been arrowed within 40 yards of this tree. Surely, this was the ideal location to be sitting.
Except it wasn’t. And it played a small role in not filling my 2018 archery tag. So too did my stubbornness to not change the stand location earlier.
Familiarity can be a detriment to an archery hunter. The reams of data that exist within a hunter’s memory from decades of hunting a familiar location can skew his or her decisions. That was reinforced enough in me this year that I’m eager to consider how I’ll change several of my stand locations for 2019.
Upon further pondering the challenges of familiarity, it dawned on me how valuable scouting can be to a new hunting location. These are often the most valuable – and fun – elements of hunting the unfamiliar. Those minutes and hours dedicated to learning about the local deer of a location can often be the primary indicator of success.
And advanced scouting before hunting familiar ground should be no different.
It sounds simple, and it probably is. But when you’re coming from hundreds of miles away to ground you know as well as your backyard, you try to skip the scouting update portion of the hunt and take advantage of the knowledge you already have.
It’s easy to do, right?
Things change within the terrain (felled trees, food sources, erosion, etc.) that provide enough of a reason to, at minimum, confirm your intuitions.
I should have done that. I’ve learned my lesson. And leave it to those old, wise does to teach me.