Having never killed anything larger than a rabbit, my goal for the fall of 2013 is to kill my first deer and first hog.
There is a wildlife management area only 20 minutes from my home. It’s easy for me to drive there on Saturday mornings and scout for deer and hog signs. I’ve already been there for the past three weekends in a row and am beginning to become vary familiar with the area. I’ve even picked out several areas within it that I want to investigate closely on future scouting trips.
However, just 45 minutes to the north is another management area that boasts some of the best hunting in the state through its quota hunt program. Each year only a certain number of hunters are allowed in and the hunting seasons are dramatically shorter there compared to normal management areas such as the one close to my home.
When I read the harvest reports for this quota hunt program area and saw that hunters were pulling a hundred or more deer and hogs out of this area every year, I got excited and was fully convinced it was the must hunt location for me. It would cost me more to hunt there not only because of its greater distance but additional permitting is required to hunt there compared to the WMA closer to my home.
But, after visiting there this weekend I realized it’s not the place for me and here’s why. I’ve already invested hours of scouting in the wildlife management area close to my home. During that time I’ve been able to become very familiar with the area and the lay of the land.
My goal this year is to harvest one deer and one hog, so whether I accomplish the goal in the fancy quota hunt management area or in the regular old place near my home, it makes no difference to me. Either way I’ll still have accomplished my goal.
If I chose to hunt in the quota hunt program within this other management area I would have to start all over again becoming familiar with the location. I would have to start driving all the way up there every Saturday to scout and learn the lay of the land. Furthermore, the hunting season there is only a number of days compared to the four month total available in the WMA close to my home.
Sure the hunting might be much better up there, but there are great advantages to choosing the more difficult, yet closer to home, location.
• It’s close to home which means I’ll be able to spend more time doing pre-season scouting.
• It isn’t as popular as the quota hunt program area to the north. Although the point of a quota hunt is to limit the number of hunters in a given area, those who do hunt will be there all at once during the extremely short hunting season.
• In the nearby WMA the hunting season is much longer giving me many more opportunities to bring down some big game.
• The WMA closer to my home is much less accessible than the more popular one further north. This means there are many areas overlooked by casual hunters due to the difficulty in reaching these remote locations.
My advice to beginning hunters is to pick one hunting location close to home that has deer. Then become a master at hunting that spot. Explore the place until you know every nook and cranny of it. Don’t get distracted by tales of how great the hunting is in some other place. Just focus on where you are now.
I believe the primary goal for every beginning deer hunter should be only that of killing a deer. Don’t worry about trophies or heads to hang on the wall, just find a legal deer and legally shoot it.
Become a master of the hunting area closest to your home that has a deer population and don’t worry about “better” hunting spots elsewhere.
(Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, My First Buck by FrackieWicz)