In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, things can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes we don’t even notice the change until it’s too late, even if all the signs are there right under your nose. One thing is true, change is constant and it affects us all. The same can be said about your favorite whitetail spots.
Looking back, after years of hunting the same property, you’ve got a spot figured out. You may have even taken multiple Pope and Young bucks from the same exact tree. But if you think critically about your last several seasons, you just aren’t seeing the same caliber of deer as yesteryear. It’s human nature to seek comfort in our surroundings and continue routines that are familiar.
Breaking that routine can be uncomfortable and extremely difficult. The cold hard truth is that things change, and over time, so will your favorite whitetail honey hole. Recognizing the change, adapting, and trying new things will be difficult, but it will undoubtedly help you grow as a hunter.
In terms of deer hunting spots, some changes are obvious and some are unexplainable at best. Regardless, changes in a deer’s environment are compounding. Deer are very adaptable and can deal with certain changes, but they also won’t hesitate to vacate an area altogether when things aren’t in their favor.
Perhaps you gained a few new, unexpected, hunting buddies on your property. Often times you can use hunting pressure to your advantage, but there becomes a point where the hunting pressure is too much and the deer have nowhere left to hide. Perhaps you hunt an area close to town and it’s being chipped away, little by little, thanks to urban sprawl. Maybe the land ownership has changed and so have the management practices. Maybe you now have livestock to contend with, or the woods that you’re accustomed to having to yourself are now a favorite place for locals to race ATVs.
Whatever change you’re experiencing, the key is to be conscious and adapt. You don’t need to abandon that property altogether, but perhaps the new hotspot has shifted. Resting on your laurels is a surefire way to flatline as a hunter.
We all have that one spot that comes to mind first when we start daydreaming about November and rutting whitetails. The problem is, sometimes these hidey holes are not as productive as they used to be and it might take several seasons before we notice the lack of productivity. We think, “I just didn’t time it right this year. Or, if only those other hunters weren’t hunting it this year, things would have turned out differently.”
The unfortunate truth is that deer season is only open for a portion of the year, furthermore, we all have jobs and other responsibilities that limit how much time we get to spend pursuing elusive whitetails. The good news is, it’s not too late to make a change. The best of deer season is yet to come, and you never know what you might turn up when you venture outside the norm.
I’ve had to abandon my favorite hunting grounds on several occasions and it’s never fun. But each time, after realizing that it was time to cut my losses, I was rewarded with better and better hunting grounds. Each time I’ve had to cut ties with an old spot, I’ve come through the other side wishing that I had done it much sooner.
By starting over from scratch, you are given a clean slate. You’ll find yourself exploring new places, scouting with an open mind, falling in love with the process, and learning things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You’ll discover new deer behavioral patterns to add to your memory bank and have insight into patterns that will be repeated elsewhere.
Learning new areas will humble you, force you to be adaptive, and open doors that you would have never envisioned previously. The lessons you will learn won’t come easy and won’t come all at once, but the compilation of this whitetail knowledge learned the hard way, will make you a well-rounded, more resourceful, intuitive, and successful deer hunter. So as hard as it may be to ditch your old reliable, if all of the signs are there, listen to your gut and see what awaits you in the whitetail woods this season.
Feature image via Matt Hansen.