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Best Days To Deer Hunt

Best Days to Deer Hunt

By: Heath Wood

With today’s technology, hunters have access to many platforms that can help determine the best time to hunt deer. While many rely on these technologies, others base superstitions on the best time to hunt. Some even reflect on past hunting experiences and base their predictions on past success. With many opinions and resources to help hunters, the question still gets debated year after year, when are the best days to deer hunt?

For the past fifteen years, my co-workers and I have each gotten one day off through the week of the Missouri firearms portion of deer season. After having two years of success while taking off on Thursday, I developed somewhat of a superstition of my own, and for the better part of ten years, I have hunted on Thursday each year. Ninety percent of the time, I have harvested a deer on my day. Is it good luck or just great timing?

On November 18th, 2021, I began the morning sitting inside my Hawk Down and Out Blind, watching a small open field that sat perfectly between two large sections of hardwood timber. It was Thursday of the opening week of Missouri’s firearms season, and I had high hopes that my successful streak would continue. I watched two smaller bucks come to a scrape during the mid-morning, along with multiple does. Then, out of the timber came a mature ten-pointer that had appeared on my Stealth Cam Fusion X camera the week before. After the buck pushed a doe around the small field for a minute or two, I acquired an opportunity and made a successful shot on a great southern Missouri buck.

I have been blessed to take a deer on my day off for several years. I’ll keep counting it as a blessing, yet is luck on my side, or is Thursday good timing for deer movement? There are historically good days when it comes to shooting a mature buck. Many apps and hunt predictions also forecast specific days as a great time to hunt. Below are the dates and why they are ideal times for deer hunters to be successful.

October 31st, Halloween Day

Halloween day is historically one of the best days for deer hunting for many hunters. Many hunters have experienced mature bucks beginning the anticipated rut during the last of October. Typically, somewhere around October 15th, scrapes begin showing up, and bucks start leaving their scent for does and other bucks as a sign that they are in the area. Around Halloween day, many bucks begin leaving the scrapes and start chasing does to find which ones are ready to breed. Since bucks are up on their feet, hunters have recorded deer movement as excellent during this time.

Because Halloween is the beginning of the actual rut, younger bucks are also eager to find a hot doe. With eager young bucks nearby, Halloween is a great time to break out the grunt calls and rattling antlers to signify a young buck getting to the does before the mature buck, making elder bucks eager to respond.

Enjoy The Hunt More With A Box Blind
Rut Action

November 12th-20th

Although it is not narrowed down to one specific day, the week surrounding November 12th– 20th is historically when the rut is in full swing in most parts of the country. In this time frame, bucks are locked down with does, chasing is full-blown, and the bigger mature bucks seem to come out of hiding to breed as many does as possible.

During the peak of the rut, hunters should take every opportunity available to hunt. My scheduled day off through the Missouri firearms season often hits close to the peak of the rut for most deer, thus being the reason my day off seems to produce successful hunts year after year. As with last year’s hunt, I try to take the opportunity to sit in a comfortable blind, such as the Down and Out blinds, and sit all day if necessary. By having a comfortable seat, plenty of room to stretch and move, and an area to bring along a few snacks and drinks, I can sit for an extended period.

If I had only one day of the year to hunt, it would be any day from the 12th to the 20th of November.

Best Days To Deer Hunt

December 10th

One of the most exciting and prosperous times for many hunters occurs during the peak of the rut. Bucks are noted as becoming less focused on their survival instincts and only thinking about breeding, allowing hunters to see and harvest bucks when they usually wouldn’t be visible.

The good thing for hunters that missed the window of opportunity to harvest a buck during the peak of the rut is that there is a second chance. Often referred to as the second rut.

Many does who did not get successfully bred come back into estrus twenty-eight days after their first estrus cycle. What that means for hunters is if most does come into the first estrus, around the 12th of November, twenty-eight days later would be December 10th. Bucks begin seeking does again during that time, giving the hunter an excellent opportunity to harvest a mature buck.

Each year, the specific days when hunters have the best chance of harvesting a buck change. Many different factors, such as weather, can play a role. However, historically the days listed above have been noted for producing the best opportunities to harvest mature bucks.

Best Days To Deer Hunt
Public Land Bowhunting During The Pre Rut

Public Land Bowhunting During The Pre Rut

By: Heath Wood

While participating in an October managed archery deer hunt in southern Missouri, my father, brother, and a few friends would all arrive a day before the two-day hunt to scout for the most deer sign to then be able to hunt that area throughout the weekend.

The large Missouri ranch consisted of nearly 24,000 acres. After entering a draw, three hundred bowhunters were selected to hunt for two days. When three hundred hunters take off from one location, nearby deer will likely feel hunting pressure.

Our group didn’t have much luck during the first few seasons we were drawn. Yet, I was intrigued at how a few hunters consistently scored a mature buck.

I loitered the area when visiting the conservation department check-in station, trying to learn the hunter’s secret. I questioned hunters about where they hunted and how far they traveled. Most of the bucks harvested during the two-day hunt were taken towards the back end of the ranch that bordered public land. The Missouri Department of Conservation owned the ranch we were hunting. However, everything inside the border fence (not a high fence) was prohibited from hunting, except during the two-day managed hunt. The deer inside the ranch fence were free-range deer that could easily travel from public land to the managed area as they pleased. During the two-day hunt, it seemed as if the ranch deer fled farther distances to avoid the hunting pressure, and that is where the hunters were able to harvest mature bucks.

Fast forward twenty-five years later, and I find myself hunting public land and reverting to those hunters who hiked deep into the timber to avoid pressure from other hunters to find bucks with the same idea. I am forever grateful to have lived my entire life in a small rural area in southern Missouri. In our area, many people’s way of life revolves around hunting and fishing.

When the November firearms portion of deer season occurs, our small rural area quickly becomes populated with hunters, ready to take on the ten-day season. Many of the public land in our area reminds me of the days we hunted the managed deer hunts with numerous other bowhunters. Every access point for miles typically has a vehicle parked and hunters nearby. For many years, I would become discouraged by the number of other hunters hunting private land. Little did I know, I was missing out on excellent hunting opportunities.

After contemplating public hunting opportunities near my home, I had a change of heart. I thought to myself, I should be glad that there are as many hunters who love the sport of deer hunting as I do. Never wanting to be pessimistic about fellow hunters, especially in the present time, our country needs as many hunters as possible. I also began searching for different times and tactics to how I could successfully hunt public land.

Beat The Crowd

Most visiting hunters who hunt public land transpire during the firearms season, near the rut, in early to mid-November. To gain an advantage, I try to hunt public land during pre-rut in mid-October. By hunting several weeks before the rut, I can hunt while deer are traveling on their natural travel routes instead of areas where they seek cover when hunting pressure has peaked. In mid-October, hunters can search large timber areas where acorns are falling, and deer feed heavily, preparing for the upcoming rut. Big timber areas are also ideal locations for hunters to find buck signs such as rubs and scrapes on hunting public land. I constantly look for food sources such as acorns and water from creeks or natural ponds. I also try to find draws, pinch points, and the side of ridges where bucks often travel out of sight. When I find good signs that bucks are nearby, I return with my Hawk Rival Lite Hang On, Helium Climbing Sticks, and bow. With the lightweight setup of the Rival Lite and Helium Climbing Sticks, I can easily backpack them into an area, hunt, and travel back out. Traveling with my equipment helps to avoid leaving my stand in place for other hunters to find my hunting area or, even worse, have my stand stolen, which unfortunately happens when hunting in public areas.

Public Land Bowhunting During The Pre Rut
Hawk Rival Lite Hang On

Pack Up and Go The Distance

My first choice is to hunt before others. However, when hunting in public areas where many others are doing the same as myself, I revisit the days of management hunts and follow in the footsteps of those hunters, putting on my Tenzing Lumber Pack, and walking into an area much farther than the average hunter. While walking beyond the average distance, I use a hunting map app such as OnX Maps. Again, I look for draws, pinch points, and ridges where bucks have likely relocated to avoid hunting pressure.

When hunting deep into an area, it is vital to pack for an entire day. If the hunter invests the extra effort to travel farther than others, only to hunt a couple of hours and then walk back out, the additional labor is pointless. Instead, pack a Tenzing pack with plenty to drink and a few snacks to last through several hours of hunting.

When hunting deep into a public land area, I choose to go into stealth mode. I do not use any calls, scents, or other tactics to lure deer. Instead, I wear quality clothing camouflaged from head to toe; it keeps me warm and dry for an extended period. The goal is to stay quiet and be patient. If the hunter stays invisible, often mature bucks ease their way through, trying to avoid pressure, providing the perfect opportunity to harvest one.

Public Land Bowhunting During The Pre Rut
Pack Up and Go The Distance
How To Properly Cut Shooting Lanes

How To Properly Cut Shooting Lanes

By: Heath Wood

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is watching you? Or maybe the hair sticks up on the back of your neck, and you get goosebumps and feel that something isn’t right. Some refer to this feeling as a sixth sense. The definition of a sixth sense is “a supposed intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of normal perception.” Below the definition was a sentence that stated, “Some sixth sense told him he was not alone.”

Many deer hunters who have spent ample time in the wild have more than likely experienced deer freezing in their steps, possibly homing in on their form of a sixth sense. The deer stay motionless for several seconds while they smell and look around, trying to figure out the feeling that has come over them. When the deer finally follow their instincts and explode out of the area, many blame the deer’s nose for identifying the hunter. However, that isn’t always the case.

A deer spends every day of its life in one area. When one thing is different in an area they see and smell every day, they sense that something isn’t right. Often, hunters go into an area and hang a treestand, then cut a few shooting lanes to have a clear shot of a deer while hunting. At that moment, when hanging stands and cutting shooting lanes, the hunter can use tactics to later prevent deer from balking on their preferred travel route.

Cutting Proper Shooting Lanes

When cutting shooting lanes, it is vital not to make it look like a logging crew followed you after setting your stand locations. Cutting as few limbs as possible is critical while providing adequate space for the arrow or bullet to travel without hitting any obstructions.

When cutting limbs and brush for proper shooting lanes, I prefer taking someone along with me to help guide a better path. After placing my stand in the tree, I strap myself in with a safety harness and sit down as if I were hunting. I look around at all my possible shot opportunities and ensure I have clear shots. Next, whoever is on the ground uses a pole saw such as the Hawk Helium Pole Saw and helps clear obstructions. When removing limbs, it is essential not to remove the entire tree or sapling if possible. I try to remove obstructions six feet up and higher yet still have a clear shot of a deer. By leaving the base of small trees or saplings, deer are less likely to recognize something missing from their daily surroundings.

When picking out shot opportunities, it is essential to keep cover between the deer and your treestand to avoid being seen. One of the most significant factors for deer catching a sense of a hunter in the area is because they catch movement or see something in a tree that is not there on a daily routine. When picking out shooting lanes, it is vital to cut lanes, not open the entire area. Give yourself five to six scenarios for deer to travel through while keeping yourself concealed.

How To Properly Cut Shooting Lanes

Clean Up The Area Afterwards

To avoid deer perceiving something that looks different in their area and to keep themselves concealed, the hunter should clean the area after trimming lanes to make it look and smell as before hanging the treestand. I try to use a scent elimination regimen when hanging stands and cutting shooting lanes. Even though I am not hunting in the area at that time, I do not want to fill up my hunting area with human scent. I try to spray down myself, including the bottom of my shoes or boots. I spray my stands, ropes, straps, and accessories with Hunters Specialties Scent-A-Way spray. The goal is to reduce as much human presence as possible.

After eliminating human odor, I remove all limbs, branches, and brush I cut out of the area. I use as many as I can to camouflage around my stand, especially behind where my body silhouette would be when looking up from the ground. Not only does it help me to stay concealed, but it also takes away the vast difference in appearance that multiple trees, limbs, and other trimmings laying out of place create. Anything a deer notices that is not commonplace is fuel for their sixth sense that can ruin a hunt.

Final Preparation

After everything is complete with my stands and shooting lanes, my last task before hunting is using a rangefinder and marking multiple areas for different yardage. After all shooting lanes are cut, I like to return to a hunting position and use my Vortex Impact 1000 rangefinder to mark yardage that can help when archery hunting. I identify landmarks such as specific trees, rocks, and stumps and mentally mark them as an aide when deciding which sight to use on my bow. In each shooting lane that I make, I range different objects. I note those same objects every time I hunt until I memorize them.

By having multiple shot scenarios ranged before hunting, I am better prepared, giving deer no time to become aware of their surroundings before making the shot.

How To Properly Cut Shooting Lanes
All Day Sits Pay Off During The Rut

All Day Sits Pay Off During The Rut

By: Heath Wood

The Power of Patience

After a mid-November morning of bucks cruising, chasing, and multiple encounters with deer the entire hunt, I was eager to see what the rest of the day had in store. At  11:30 a.m., a good friend who hunts in a tree stand nearby texted me and asked if I would like to join him for a quick bite to eat. He told me that he parked on the backside of the property where we both were hunting. The morning’s hunt was full of action; however, my stomach was empty.

After a short drive to meet up with my friend, I was welcomed with a bag full of elk snack sticks, sliced cheese, and crackers laid out on the bed of his truck, like that of a buffet. I stuffed my face with snacks and then headed back to my tree stand to settle for the afternoon and evening hunt. I was amazed at how many deer I witnessed moving through the timber during the early afternoon. At a time of day when I would typically be sitting at camp or home, the deer were already on their feet.

At 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, I was fortunate to harvest a mature buck who was cruising through trying to find any does that were in estrus. If it weren’t for sitting all day, I would not have been there when he came through, or even more concerning, I would probably have spooked the buck when walking in if I had been following my usual hunting schedule.

Plan for Comfort

When hunting mid-November or when the rut is in full swing, it is a good idea to take your playbook or your game plan and throw it away. One of the most exciting things about hunting the rut is that you never know what the deer will be doing or where they will be. The unpredictable nature of bucks during the rut is why it is crucial to find a spot that you know deer usually travel and sit all day. To sit all day, one must be ready to endure ten or more hours in a ladder stand, tree stand or blind. When sitting for long periods, you must consider these three factors—comfort, hunger, and boredom.

Remaining comfortable throughout the day means to have an excellent place to sit and to stay warm. During the rut is one of my favorite times to put in an entire day of hunting. Whether rifle hunting or bow hunting, I prefer using a ladder stand with enough room to sit to ensure I stay comfortable. The 20′ Big Denali 1.5 Man SLS Ladderstand from Hawk is one of my favorite ladder stands. The Big Denali features one of the most oversized seats ever on a ladder stand. The Mesh Comfort seat is 26″ wide and has a 23″ contour backrest. The extra room in the seat and the large area to rest my feet, I can sit comfortably for hours.

The other critical factor in sitting comfortably for an extended period is dressing in layers to adjust to the weather. By dressing in layers, you guarantee that you will be warm in the mornings when it is colder. As the day progresses and temperatures begin to climb, you can shed a layer and remain comfortable without leaving the ladder stand.

Sitting in 20' Big Denali 1.5 Man SLS Ladder stand

Hunters Get Hungry

Hunger can end a hunt faster than you can say biscuits and gravy. It is a good idea to take a few snacks in your backpack to prevent cutting your hunt short and risk being absent from the stand when a mature buck decides to venture through. On a cool fall morning, while sitting in a ladder stand or tree stand, it is common to start feeling hunger pangs after the morning action slows down. This is especially true during the rut; you never know when the moment of truth will present itself. I take a few snacks and drinks with me in my bag to help keep myself in the stand when the action happens.

In the past, I have even packed my lunch to avoid leaving the area. However, I usually keep my lunch in my vehicle, and I get out of my stand during mid-day, only to eat, then climb back into the stand as soon as possible.

Boredom Saves the Buck

The last of the three risk factors for cutting a hunt short is boredom. During the rut, there is usually a lot of action throughout the day. However, there will still be times when nothing is going on. It is easy to let your mind wander during such times. A cell phone is a lifesaver for a roaming mind. When activity slows, grab your phone, check social media, play games, check the weather, or whatever to occupy your mind to prevent boredom. If you are not much of a smartphone kind of person, I use my hunting accessories as tools to prevent boredom. When hunting during the rut, using a grunt call or rattling antlers can sometimes help lure in a buck. They can also be used when times get slow, and you become bored.

A Good Backpack Leads To Good Results

You want to speed up the action anyway, why not make a few grunts or compose a rattling sequence. Other hunting accessories are used the same way. Hunters often carry a backpack or bag such as the Tenzing/Mossy Oak Bottomland Hangtime Day Pack. A hunt backpack like the Hangtime Day Pack keeps all gear, snacks, drinks, and anything else you might need during the hunt always organized and within reach. When times get slow, I get my Vortex Viper HD binoculars out of my pack and slowly scan my entire surroundings. Occasionally when scanning with binoculars, you will spot deer movement that you may have failed to notice with the naked eye.

The rut is a favorite time of the year for all deer hunters. The action is like no other time of the year, and the chance of taking mature buck increases.  Do not miss out on this magical time by being absent when it occurs.

Dead Buck Shot from Hawk Tree Stand

Getting The Most Out of Your Hang-On Treestand

Multiple Uses For Your Hang-on Treestand

As a deer hunter, there are countless different ways in which you can go about hunting. Ground blinds, permanent stands, saddles, climbers and of course hang-on treestands. Where hang-on treestands have an advantage over other types of hunting is you can use hang on stands in a variety of ways. Most notably are through the uses of running and gunning or setting up a given property with multiple hang on stands, or even a combination of both. Depending on what kind of scenario you will find yourself in can also determine what kind of stand you might want to use.

Running and Gunning Tactics

Running and gunning or being a mobile hunter is a great scenario in which to use a hang on treestand. When doing so, you want to make sure you have the correct stand though. Lugging around a big and bulky stand won’t cut it with this type of hunting. Having a smaller, slimmer stand is what you’ll want to use when running and gunning. This is where having a stand such as the Hawk Combat stand can play a big factor. Sporting a platform size of 21×27”, it’s big enough to be comfortable, all the while being small enough to be packable for any kind of running and gunning hunt.

When utilizing the running and gunning style of deer hunting, often times you’ll have a spot picked out on a map, or a general location in mind. What this can mean, is you may not know exactly where you’ll be setting up or what kind of tree it will be, etc. Because of this, it’s even more important to have a lightweight stand such as the Hawk Combat. Not only do you want a lightweight stand, you will also want one you can trust. When running and gunning, you can be put in a multitude of scenarios, including hunting close to buck bedding and all day sits during the rut. In these situations, you want a stand that is quiet, sturdy and comfortable, which the combat stand provides.

When it comes to running and gunning, it is one of the most popular uses for a hang on treestand. The hang on stand gives you the ability to be mobile and a flexible deer hunter. If you are a public land hunter, someone who likes to save money, or simply an aggressive hunter that doesn’t like to sit in the same tree again and again, consider investing in a stand such as the Hawk Combat to be your running and gunning partner.

Having Multiple Hang on Stands

Another great use for hang on treestands is through the use of setting up multiple stands on a given property. Whether you are someone who owns a big tract of land and wants to set it up just how you want for multiple different hunting situations, or if you operate an outfitter, having multiple hang on stands setup throughout your property can be a big deal for many different reasons.

By having multiple hang on stands setup on your hunting property, you can set it up to tailor how you want to hunt. You can set up multiple stands for certain wind directions, as well as for morning hunts or evening hunts. You can have stands setup for early season, rut hunts and late season. By having all of your stands setup and ready to go, what it allows you to do is have options to choose from, and when the time comes to hunt, you can look at all of the conditions that are present and make a decision as to what stand to hunt. This is especially nice if you share a hunting property with others and need a lot of setups.

When you are going the route of having multiple hang on stands to set up a given property, you can afford to have a bigger, roomier platform. Since you won’t be hauling the stand in when you hunt, the bigger platform can make your sits much more comfortable. This is where a stand such as the Hawk Mega Combat shines. Coming in with a platform size of 24×30’, the mega combat stand provides you with a little extra room. When using multiple stands on a property such as in this scenario, you can hang the stands over time in the off-season allowing you to use a bit of a bigger stand. When you are running and gunning, the smallest stand possible is usually preferred since you are hauling it on your back every time you hunt. But when it comes to using many stands and setting them up at a pre-determined time, having the extra room can be useful for a couple different reasons. Not only is it more comfortable, but they can be great for setting up for others. Some people need a bigger platform, whether that is because of their size or comfortability issues. Either way, if you know others will be sitting the stands you setup, having a bigger platform can be a big plus.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you want to have the right stand for your style of hunting. The nice thing about hang-on stands is they can suit multiple hunting situations. If you are a mobile hunter and love to run and gun, a small and slim hang-on stand is a great option. You can still be comfortable in the tree while not having to haul in anything too heavy. And if you have a bigger hunting property where you can setup multiple stands, having a hang-on stand with a nice sized platform can be a great way to go. It all comes down to your style and preferences. No matter which way you go, or what scenario a hang on stand is useful to you, Hawk has a selection that can fit your needs. If you want to learn more about the Combat series of stands, head over to our YouTube Channel to check them out.

HAWK_headquarters office Michigan

HAWK™ Opens New Headquarters in Michigan

Growing Company Now Calls Frankenmuth, MI Home

Frankenmuth, MI. June 18, 2014  — HAWK®, introduced in early 2014, is an exciting new brand of hunting gear and equipment.  Distributed by Innopower, Inc, HAWK started moving into the new headquarters building in Frankenmuth, Michigan earlier this year and recently completed the transition.

The facility, which is adjacent to Bronner Construction on 393 List Street, will house the entirety of Team Hawk™.  With the move into the new headquarters complete, HAWK now accommodates its entire Michigan-based staff including Engineering, Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Warehousing and Distribution.  This is further proof of the company’s ever-increasing growth and capacity.

“We are extremely pleased at the initial reception and success of our HAWK brand in the marketplace,” says HAWK® President Scott Lee. “As HAWK continues to expand and gain recognition within the market, we needed to have a facility capable of growing with us.  The facility in Frankenmuth has a great working environment and improved R&D workspace to bring further innovative products to the market.”

The move to the new facility was ahead of HAWK’s original timetable and having fully integrated warehousing/distribution strengthens the overall effectiveness and efficiency of operations.  HAWK is currently utilizing 4,000sq/ft and has an additional 4,000sq/ft  reserved for future expansion.

The address for the new headquarters is 393 List St, Ste B, Frankenmuth, MI 48734.  For more information, e-mail [email protected], call 810-626-3026, or visit hawkhunting.com.

HAWK™ is a hunter-driven company committed to ruggedly designed outdoor gear. Never satisfied and refusing to settle with a passion for bringing superior design, quality and performance to products that all hunters can enjoy. Like refining a strategy in the woods, it’s all about evolving.

HUNT STRONGER. SAFER. SMARTER. HUNT FROM ABOVE.