Everybody wants to have a great whitetail season. As Missouri hunters head into the woods, they want to achieve the goal of returning safely with a deer in tow. While that sounds simple enough, in order to make this and every hunting season the best for all involved, there are a few things to remember.
Take time to brush up on the law before you set forth. Sure, there may be little to no change in Missouri hunting law from one year to the next, but how will you know if you don't bother to look? If changes do occur, it is for a reason and you should be aware, especially when it comes to things such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and containment areas.
Always put safety first. Lots of things in life can be replaced, except for own life and that of your hunting buddies. Take your time, move about carefully, and don't take unnecessary risks. Use a safety harness when climbing up to or down from a tree stand. Be sure to always secure guns and bows during periods of movement and treat every weapon as if it is loaded at all times.
When the time comes that a much anticipated deer appears before you, don't take just any shot. Rather than compromising your ethics in hopes of maybe being able to take down a buck, wait for a golden opportunity that comes with certainty of a kill shot. The wait may be long at times, but you'll be glad you waited. This same concept applies to taking young bucks. It may be tempting to go for a younger buck, but letting him go so he can grow into a respectable buck for next year is often a better choice.
Photo: Flick River
Know the meaning of the different types of blood you will see and how they pertain to your shot. When you see blood, it may range from bright and bubbly to dark and mixed with food bits. The color and consistency of blood will give you an indication as to where the deer was hit and how quickly he will expire. This knowledge can be used to make you more efficient when it comes time to retrieve the deer since you will know if you're in for a short walk or a long one as well as when to wait it out versus beginning that trek.
When you do harvest a deer, be sure none of the animal is wasted. Even the parts of the deer that are not necessarily your favorite are something someone else would be glad to have. If you do not have friends or family who are interested in your excess, donate it to a program such as Share the Harvest where it will go to feed hungry families in need.
Most of all, however, be humble, admit to your mistakes, and take them in stride. Mistakes can prove to be the best motivators and learning tools there are and we all make them. There is no need to be embarrassed when things go less than perfect; that is simply going to help you work towards bigger and better hunting in the future.
Hunting whitetails is an exciting sport with lots of adrenaline, but also a lot of downtime in between opportunities. Whether your minutes in the woods are spent in an enthusiastic, eager state or waiting things out in a laid back, calm manner, be sure to enjoy the experience and make the most of it. After all, there is no better place to be.
Do you have any tips that guide you throughout hunting season? What are your own personal rules of thumb to follow? Let us know in the comments.