You can't open a hunting magazine today without being bombarded with ads about the latest and greatest deer scent, deer lures, seed to plant green fields, designer camo, hi tech gadgets and much more. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, you get to an article and it's some so called Deer Guru talking about how he shot a Mega Buck at 250 yards with his rifle across a green field.
Is it any wonder why anti-hunters are able to sway as many people over to their side as they have been?
As a Country of Hunters, Have We Forgotten How to "Hunt" Deer?
I can't remember what year I started hunting (yeah, age will do that to ya), but it was sometime in the late '70's. My dad was strictly a firearms hunter. A hour or so in the mornings and an hour or so in the evenings. He showed me what he knew, but it wasn't a whole lot.
Fortunately for me, my dad had a man working for him who lived in the woods come deer season. This man volunteered to take me hunting with him most weekends. He showed me what deer sign was, where to look for it and in general, how to find and pattern deer. He killed deer with a bow back before it was popular.
The only camo I remember being available at that time was WWII and at that time, the "new" Woodland Military Camo. A few years after I started hunting, some camo came out called Ranger (the best I remember). This was a green pattern on one side and a brown pattern on the other. I worked all Summer to save up for a set of that Camo!
Later, Treebark camo came out and I believe that was the start of designer camo fad that grips the deer hunting industry today.
The point of this being, Hunters killed lots of deer before any of this new wave of "must have" lures, scents, camo and equipment came out.
Hunting the Old School Way
Once I started hanging around with the man who worked for my Dad, I got introduced to man hardcore hunters. Guys who'd stay in the stand until noon then come down for lunch and be right back in there by 1:30 or 2 and stay until dark.
These guys didn't have all the modern camo and accessories today and contrary to popular belief, they still killed a lot of deer.
The "designer" scent of the day was skunk scent. The camo of the day was any dark clothing that might be handy. Plaid patterns were popular. Very few of us hunted "food plots". The food plots we knew were planted by the State on the WMU. Otherwise, we hunted Mother Natures own food plots. Oak flats, Persimmon trees, honeysuckle bushes, pecan trees and many other "in season" foods.
The Modern Hunter - As Good as Old Schoolers?
I've often wondered how successful today's "Whitetail Guru" would be if you planted him or her back in the '70's with gear from that time. I bet their success rate would plummet.
Today, a new hunter thinks he must have the latest in calls, lures, camo and gear in order to be successful. In fact, if you'd take a look at all the ads, you'd think that you must have a lease and be planting food plots if you intend on being successful. Or pay huge amounts of money for guided hunts, guided hunts around food plots that are often on leased land!
A few years ago I happen to get drawn in on a controlled hunt. As I sit in the parking lot getting ready to head out, another hunt a few pickups down was throwing a wild eye fit. It seems he grabbed the wrong bag when he headed out that morning and the bag he grabbed didn't have his camo or scents in it. The guy ended staying in the pickup all day while his buddies went hunting even though he could have just as well spent the day hunting. But modern "hunting lore" had him believe he wouldn't be successful if he didn't have his little bag of designer camo and scents.
You may be asking yourself what my hunting gear is like. Where here ya go.
- A pair of worn Mossy Oak pants over my blue jeans. Many times they'll go all season being washed only a few times.
- A lightweight shirt. I don't care what color it is as long as it's comfortable. I have a couple OD green ones I normally wear. When it's colder, a black and green flannel shirt is worn and if it's really cold, a old Woodland pattern Military BDU jacket with a Remington black vest.
- I wear LL Beans Maine Hunting Boots unless it's below freezing, then it's any ole pair of pack boots I can find in my size.
- As for scents, I hardly ever use commercial scents any more. I will use a tarsal gland from a buck that is not from the area during the pre-rut to early rut.
- My bow is a Darton that is over 10 years old set at 63 lbs. Funny, when that arrow passes through the boiler room of a buck, he doesn't know it's not the fastest or most modern bow on the market. I use a glove or tab with Cobra pin site or I shoot instinctive. I tend to go back and forth every few years.
- I normally take a couple bottles of water with me and snacks if I plan an all day hunt. If it's cold, a Thermos of coffee comes along. I can't tell you the number of bucks I've shot during midday sitting in a stand, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette or eating lunch.
- And in my pockets of my pants, fanny pack and jacket (if I wear one) are the essentials, ie; compass, map, drag rope, knives, cigarette lighter, cell phone (not always though) binoculars ( a pair of 5x32 Ranging or Tasco 10x32 binocs).
I prefer to hunt light. I know a few old guys who don't take this much stuff with them.
The point is, many hunters get distracted by all the junk they think they have to carry into the woods to be successful. If many of those who are not successful would spend as much time scouting and learning about deer as they did worrying over their camo, scent or food plot, they would be much more successful.
You see, the very best equipment you can have when deer hunting is between your ears! You and I were made to hunt. We are well equipped with the senses and means to kill a deer without all the latest and greatest inventions or mass marketed products on the market.
Why don't you just try it a few days this year. Go to the woods with your favorite blue jeans on, a favorite jacket and get out there after them. Forget the food plots, instead, head for the acorns or honeysuckle thickets. Once you lean how to really "hunt" deer, chances are you'll enjoy the sport much more. Let's get back to hunting deer, not hunting a place to put a food plot so the deer can hunt us!