Is your property better during archery or rifle season?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by snowracerh, Nov 21, 2021 at 2:15 PM.

  1. snowracerh

    snowracerh Active Member

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    Location:
    Western Wisconsin
    Hardiness Zone:
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    Hi, I am starting this thread as we are part way into the WI rifle season. This is my 7th season on this property and I have never seen a good buck during rifle season. I am questioning if it's my tactics or if some properties are just better for rifle versus archery? I have good stand access, play the wind, sanctuaries, early successional habitat, late season food plots (no I don't sit right on them), a good amount of does, etc. Also I see lots of good bucks on camera up until the rifle opener and I have shot 6 with a bow from the same stands over the 7 years. During rifle, my neighbors wander all over, driving atvs in and out, hunt the center of the property and all manage to consistently shoot good bucks. Something isn't adding up to me and I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this?

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  2. g squared 23

    g squared 23 Active Member

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    Location:
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    My experience mirrors yours. I’ve never shot a deer during our gun season. I’ve shot 5 bucks with a bow in about 8 years of hunting. I’m pretty darn conservative hunting stands as well, but I get the feeling the deer know you’re there, eventually. The neighbors pretty much only gun hunt, so they have 7 days to get their deer. They go in and hunt places that haven’t been touched all year, and a first time sit in big buck country can be gold. Our gun season coincides with the lockdown phase of the rut, where bucks are moving very little unless they are coming off a doe and looking for another one. During this time, it pays to sometimes border on reckless; you probably need to be right in or adjacent to really thick breeding cover, or your chances are slim because they don’t move very much. “Once a year” hunters have no problem marching into the best looking spots as their time is super limited. I’m a bowhunter at heart and hate spooking the deer off the property, so don’t get as aggressive as I know I should if I want to be in the game.

    It’s a great discussion. I might just sit gun season out and leave my property as a sanctuary hoping something lays down and makes it through. I currently have a super list of 3 year olds that if they make it through could make things interesting next year. I’d rather just let them be.


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  3. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Huntingdon Co. PA
    Hardiness Zone:
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    Some properties that I have hunted extensively were better for bow, and some were consistently better for gun season. There are so many different dynamics in play here that it's hard to put a finger on them, but I'd say human pressure is one of the big ones.
    You say that your neighbors make noise and move around a lot, they may well be moving their own deer to each other, but observing deer behavior tells us that should also make those same deer very quickly become nocturnal or leave for quieter real-estate.
    One main factor that I've observed is that bow hunters operate in close proximity to where the deer are, and deer activity drops every day an archery hunter is that area no matter how scent free that hunter thinks he is. Gun hunters, on the other hand, often set up several hundred yards from where the deer are, so even if they drive an atv to their stand in the middle of their property, the deer aren't bothered by it because they still don't detect humans messing around close to their core areas. And since bow season comes before gun season, the deer are already pressured towards the gun hunting areas with rifle stands 200 yards away, setting up those guys for the first morning.
    The answers to your dilemma might be to "archery hunt" half of your property and let the other half untouched for gun season, and set up your gun stands several hundred yards downwind from where the deer are usually at. It takes 10 years to fully learn how to hunt a property, most of this having to do with knowing where to hunt on the property at what point in the season, and moving around a good bit for different sits at multiple stand sites situated around the fringes of a property is the best way to speed up the process of learning about that particular property. Cameras can help, but are not the same as an actual hunt, I know hunters who will sit out on the property line after tags are filled just to try out a new spot for future reference.
    My experience is that gun hunting food plots that haven't been hunted all year is usually a good recipe for success, and having many different stands off of plots is a good option, rule of thumb, especially with bow, is to never hunt the same spot twice. It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes I sneak in to a closed hunting blind totally undetected, and the first evening I see 15 deer, the second evening, 5 deer, and the third evening, none. When a hunter goes into the woods, the deer know that he is there. Gun hunters staying 200 yards away have a huge advantage, if the area hasn't been bowhunted earlier.
    Then there are the more obvious things that can be worked on, such as trying to have better food, water, and cover than the surrounding properties...
     
  4. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    For unpressured deer, I prefer bow. Still, for killing mature bucks, being able to reach out 350yds is a game changer (the majority of out mature bucks are killed at this range). We largely hunt from Redneck blinds to contain scent/hide movement. If I could only hunt one season, it would be bow.
     
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  5. weekender21

    weekender21 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Without knowing more about your property the biggest factors to seeing any deer during the higher pressure seasons is security. That security may or may not require dense cover.

    Like mentioned above, our rifle season opens within a day or two of peak breeding. It’s a crap shoot that time of year regardless of pressure. Mature bucks are killed where the hot doe leads them.

    If you lack high stem count security cover that’s probably a great starting point.


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  6. BoneCrusher20

    BoneCrusher20 Active Member

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    Location:
    Central WI
    Hardiness Zone:
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    If its anything like me we experience something similar here in central WI. I have great October land, think partly because compared to neighboring properties I provide lot better nutrition on that green to green shift (beans as they defoliate in ag fields to green food plots) so i attract large amounts of does......but i think that's exactly the issue i run into as our gun season is later in November at tail end of rut where just last night i sat on 3 acre food plot saw over 30 does in one hr of sitting, not single buck past yearling.

    I've wrestled with what issue is, my latest theory is i'm the doe factory in the neighborhood, bucks love my property during October/early part of Nov as that's where they can start checking on does and find easy breeding opportunities, but as soon as majority are bred that the social stress of too many does is pushing bucks onto neighboring properties. I have sanctuaries just like you, logged habitat with high stem count, hunt carefully with access/wind, all that jazz, but my sanctuaries are filled up with does this time of year, i think the bucks as rifle season progresses yes still interested in finding few does still coming in, but they also feel that stress as testosterone levels wain and try to find their own space, as progress into winter. Plan to continue my research to find ways to make my land attractive to bucks all year continuing past bow season.

    My other theory is my neighbors are lazy hunters and visit their land 1x per year aka opening weekend of rifle season, so as much as my land is sanctuary i still have some presence in comparison....probably not bad strategy on their part, but annoying at that to those that put our heart into our properties.
     
  7. badgerfowl

    badgerfowl Well-Known Member

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    Archery is better hands down on ours. I am growing to hate gun season more and more every year. South central Wisconsin.
     
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  8. g squared 23

    g squared 23 Active Member

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    Location:
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    I think this is a large part of it. You/we call them lazy, I’m sure they consider themselves “disciplined” and “strategic”. And they are to a large degree. They purposefully or inadvertently leave their land alone, putting absolutely no scent and no pressure on the area, and no matter how careful we are, we are putting some scent down and putting on some pressure. They have the complete element of surprise when deer feel completely safe in that area as they have walked around in there totally unmolested, only showing up with a weapon that allows you to basically shoot any deer you can clearly see. Not a bad strategy. It’s not one that I care for, I’d much rather bowhunt, but I also can in no way knock their success.

    My inlaws have a little 5 acre finger of timber that they allow only myself to hunt. They see deer around all summer, and wonder why I don’t bowhunt it much or at all. Thats because, assuming I get a decent wind, if I save it for gun season I almost always have success hunting it opening morning of shotgun season. And it’s a little 5 acre nothing. Think if you had a 50 acre piece you left alone completely 360 days a year. The deer will be there. The less you hunt a property, the higher quality each hunt will be. It’s a difficult balance between preserving and enjoying the place that we all struggle with.


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