Busted Deer Hunts – Failing to Harvest your Game Happens
Dr. John Woods 12.23.20
Sometimes even the best deer hunters come home with nothing. Bringing back empty ice coolers from deer camp is certainly a downer, but getting zipped at the game of hunting and having busted deer hunts are just part of the experience. I mean, what if you won every time you bought a lottery ticket? It just don’t happen. Hunting is a game of chance, too.
I help manage 680 acres of prime deer hunting property with frontage on one of my state’s best deer hunting rivers. The surrounding habitat is pristine for white-tailed deer. It is known statewide for producing good bucks and a lot of deer. The past two seasons I have not fired a shot. Oh, I’ve seen deer, but either on the run, blocked by trees, or other reasons, there has been no venison in the freezer. It happens. Looking forward to this season.
So, how do you beat the odds of not coming away from deer camp without some meat to take home? Prepare and execute. When I talk to or interview a number of deer hunters throughout the season, I am amazed with the comments I get about why some hunters are experiencing busted deer hunts on the game they seek. Usually it boils down to simply not being prepared, caught off guard, buck/doe fever, or they simply screw up a shot. Some hunters that don’t bring home meat are simply buck hunters and that is all they will harvest. That’s ok unless they are trying to manage the herd.
In deer camp over the years I have seen just about everything that would hinder a hunter from being successful. I have seen one hunter come to camp with the wrong ammunition. His .270 Win rifle just wouldn’t handle .30-06 Sprg and it is a good thing I caught it. A hunter who only brought white tennis shoes was at a disadvantage in mud and freezing temperatures. Another hunter’s wife packed him no hunting pants (on purpose). Often it is the small things that add up to work against you, and can contribute to busted deer hunts. As a result, pack your own gear.
Before leaving home, double check your equipment and supply list. You make a list don’t you? In camp pre-pack your hunting pack with everything needed for the hunt. Ready your firearm, but don’t pre-load it. Go over it all once again before you leave camp. On the stand, stay alert. Have everything ready to go. Scan constantly with binoculars. Check the wind often. When a shot presents itself, steady the aim and trigger pull. Even with full preparation, sometimes deer just do not show. Take it in stride and be ready for the next opportunity – and go buy a lottery ticket.