Opening Day — this is the best day of the first week for hunter success. Whitetails will be moving as always from bedding grounds to feeding areas, and the big bucks will still be looking for the few does that didn’t “catch” during the regular rut. Hunters who have done their homework, scouted out well worn trails, located places where they’re actively feeding, like white oak groves, food plots, still standing corn, and winter wheat, will know where to concentrate their efforts.
Many hunters will gather in groups, separate into drivers and standers, and start working sections of timber, smaller woodlots, well timbered creek bottoms, and brushy areas, and make their drives. Smart drivers will make sure the wind is at their backs or at least quartering, and standers will be well hidden and waiting for deer to pass within range. Those who prefer to sit and wait for their deer will do nearly as well as the standers, because animals flushed out by walkers will be running hard for cover. Sit in a good spot along a trail leading to swamps, multiflora rose thickets, standing corn and other escape sanctuaries, and your chances of bagging something are very good.
Day Two — it gets harder now, because the cream has already been skimmed, but there’ll still be plenty of animals out there confused enough to remain in fairly open areas or those yet untouched by drivers, so chances will still be fairly good of bagging a buck or doe. Do the same as you did on opening day, drive or sit and wait in a likely spot, and hope for the best.
Day Three — it gets really tough on round three. After being chased and likely shot at for two days, the dummies have been mostly killed and the survivors, particularly the old bucks and does with previous experience, will be holed up in heavy cover. They won’t move unless forced out, so your best bet on this day is to hunt with a partner or two, and stick to small areas, fencerows and little pockets and tight thickets with one walking through and the other waiting at drives end.
Day Four and Five — Many still unsuccessful hunters won’t bother to hunt these days, since chances of success are small indeed, but you can still find one by hunting where they aren’t (usually). On these days I’ve found them in strange places indeed. Like a six point in a tiny cattail swamp far out in a picked soybean field. A nice buck turned up in a tiny thicket in an open woodlot once lying flat with his head sideways to hide his antlers. And one under a log over a little gully in a totally open pine forest. Remember, the last days can be good again as hunters who had to work during the first season head out to hunt every bit of cover with real enthusiasm. Don’t miss them.
* * *
Hooks & bullets
• With Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) a possible real problem, the Division of Wildlife is asking hunters to assist in the collection of samples for CWD testing. Hunters are required to bring their deer carcass to a Division of Wildlife inspection station for sampling if the animal was killed in either Holmes or Tuscarawas counties. Hunters are not required to bring their deer for testing during the two day youth gun season. For questions, call 1-800-WILDLIFE.'
• TourismOhio recently launched the 2018 holidays in their Ohio web page featuring a new statewide Holiday Lights Trail. The Holiday Lights Trail showcases 30 distinctive light displays across the state from Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo to Kings Island's Winterfest in Mason. For details and more information, visit Ohio.org/Holidays.
• Some readers might be tempted to release any animal they see that's been caught in a trap, but the law says "Don't do it." Recently, a state wildlife officer received a call from a home owner who was having issues with a neighbor tampering with traps. The officer contacted the neighbor and he admitted he had removed a raccoon from the trap. The man was issued a summons for tampering with and removing an animal from a legally-set trap. He pleaded guilty and paid $200 in fines and court costs.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.