This could be the year. Waiting for daythe dayto break, your anticipation is so high your thoughts nearly become whispers. In a few minutes it will be a brand new deer season, a fresh start. The possibilities are as endless as the miles between you and the sun that seems to be taking forever to rise.
This could be the year everything goes right, when before noon you're looking over your shoulder at 10 high points of bone as you lean into the drag rope. You found the giant over Labor Day weekend, after you and some buddies put the new porch on your camp. He was standing at the edge of a nasty, blackberry-choked clear-cut no one dared enter. Except you. An hour ago you slipped into his hiding spot, creeping along the old logging road discovered on your third scouting trip, and in the chilly darkness you silently settled into your blind. The wind was perfect.
Maybe it's the year you kill your first buck. Somehow you just know it will be a big one. For more than half your 12-year lifetime, you've waited for this moment. What used to be just another day off school, provided by the district so older kids and teachers could hunt, now has real purpose. Before you merely listened to hunting stories; after today you'll be telling them. Grandpa's sitting on the other side of the treethis is his favorite spot. It's now yours, too.
It might be the year Dad finally fills his tag again. Too many seasons have passed since his last buck, and climbing mountains doesn't get any easier on a hunter in his 60s. But he's still out here, now following in your footsteps, waiting for his chance. He even bought new camo this year. Smiling through the sweat glistening on a beard more white than gray, he lets you know it's always worth the struggle.
Maybe this will be the year you take the first doe that wanders by, because times are tough and backstrap is not. You have just one day to hunt, not even a full one at that, and as a provider you're going to make the most of it. You wonder what your 3-year-old will think when he sees the glazed-over eyes of what will become this winter's meals. You hope he'll be curious and brave enough to run his fingers over the sleek hide, and pray you'll have a good answer when he asks why the animal is no longer breathing.
No matter your thoughts, your plans, your dreams on this opening day of deer season, let your mind revel in the unknownon what could happen. A chance at success in the deer woodsand never a guarantee of itis why we're out here in the first place.
How to Think Like a Rabbit
by J. Scott Olmsted,
Editor in Chief
Rabbit fur provides poor insulating qualities.
So think about it: Where would you escape the cold if all you had was a light jacket? Check briar patches and fruit brambles that offer shelter from the wind while remaining open to the warm rays of the January sun.
When hunting thick cover look for their eyes,
not their brown fur, to spot rabbits. A rabbit's shiny, round, dark eyes stand out against the monochromatic gray tones of the places it calls home like a dime on a cow pie.
Anyone who's hunted them knows rabbits are nervous critters, likely to bolt before they need to in the face of danger. When you enter a briar patch walk slowly, then stop, look and listen for about a minute. Then repeat. Your movement will likely flush a bunny from its hide. If not, the silent treatment should convince the critter it's been spotted and it'll make a run for it.
Contrary to popular belief,
rabbits don't exactly run in circles when chased by dogs. They do, however, tend to run within their range. If your beagle jumps a rabbit stand and wait—the dog will chase the rabbit back within shooting range.
Use an improved cylinder choke and No. 6 or 7 1/2 loads
to provide a wide, sufficiently heavy pattern without excessively damaging meat when hunting alone. Beagles push rabbits farther afield; switch to a modified or even a full choke and No. 4 or 6 loads when hunting with them.
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