I started hunting and learned that its a lot harder than it looks
I started hunting 3 years ago, and its been a tough journey learning the ins and outs without guidance. Many people may think that hunting is as easy as throwing a pole into lake full of fish and pulling one out, but the reality is significantly far from that. I've taken the week off and heading off into the woods tomorrow to scout some areas and wanted to give some insights for those who want to own the hunt.
Sidenote: some people may object to the idea of hunting, but still eat meat. Its a contradiction in its own right, but let me just say that there is ethical hunting, and then there is unethical hunting. I don't hunt for survival, I hunt because I think it brings me closer to nature and animals. We are not out there to kill and maim, rather we are out there because we are part of the food chain and enjoy the experience of being part of that food chain.
It's called hunting not shooting
Some may think that you simply go into the woods and wait in a tree and shoot a deer as it walks by. Although this is half true, its much more complex then that. Any species of wild animal that flourishes today has keen survival instinct that has adapted to humanity's presence. Deer are no exception. They have a highly developed sense of smell that is better than dog by nearly 10x. Their eye sights are as sharp as humans, and their body responds faster than their brain can process the threat. This makes deer hunting a true challenge, if it were not for human's own ability to think and outsmart the game.
In order to prepare for a hunt, you must do your homework, which involves understanding the geography, the weather, and your own ability. I'm looking at a particular parcel of land in Pennsylvania that is within 1.5 hours drive of NYC which means that I am attempting to hunt in an area that is close to major populations, i.e. more competition with other humans. This has duel benefits because deer thrive in areas where humans live and are not allowed to hunt. Anyone who lives in the suburbs would understand the threat of deer while driving at night and to their gardens during the day time.
Step 1: Is it legal to hunt?
This is going to vary from state to state, but PA has a great tool that helps you identify if the area is legal to hunt. Othertimes, youll need to do some heavy research with maps on hand to determine the boundaries of legal hunting.
Step 2: Locate the best areas to hunt
This is also going to vary from region to region, but in the northeast, we typically live in areas where the terrain has rolling hills or have "mountains" with steep drop offs. Anywhere that have dropoffs will be subjected to rising thermals from the morning sun and low pressure zones from over head wind. This provides the deer with the most information for their nose (which they depend on for survival). Using this information, I go through the map and mark out the area with a marker that highlights the exposed face to a specific type of wind. Below is a graphic of the wind directions that blow on crests. If the microclimate is such that the prevailing wind is from the west (westerly winds) then I will hunt the areas in red, and appropriately so for the other winds.
Step 3: Identify a path in
The pink arrow in the above graphic is the main path of ingress for the location, which means that other hunters and park patrons will be using this path to enter the park. As a hunter, we do not want to use this path to setup our position if the wind will blow our scent into the area where the animal is resting. Other hunters will be unlikely stray far from this path since it allows them easy access to the game lands. This means that the more work I put in, the more likely I am to be in area where the deer is hiding from other hunters.
If I am attempting to hunt the red lined area by the peak of coffman hill, then I'll attempt to use the trail for quick movement, and then slow down once I get off the trail and into the woods. where I'll start looking for signs of deer bedding areas. Once I establish bedding areas, I'll mark them down in my journal and then come back in the late season and try to nab them.
Does anyone here hunt?