Shooting houses, hounds improve hunt
BY ERNIE MARTIN
Now that all the pre-season preparation work has ended, it’s time to reap the benefits of your labor. The beginning of November signals the coming of general gun season. Small gauge has already begun and Thanksgiving weekend will start the deer season for general gun use. The two most widely used techniques for harvesting the white-tailed deer is either sitting in a stand/shooting house or using hounds to run the deer to you. Both techniques can be effective, depending on your personal preference.
TAKE A STAND
First let’s talk about hunting deer from a stand. There are several types of stand techniques to discuss but for this issue I will address two of my favorites.
Nothing beats the shooting house, which is why it is my first choice. I have been in some shooting houses that were very nice. They had heaters, comfy chairs, coolers, wind detectors – all the comforts of home. Some of my best naps have come by way of the shooting house.
Just in case you might not know what a shooting house is let me give a brief description. They are small buildings fixed to the ground by a foundation or raised up off the ground on poles. Basically, a tree house without the tree. The windows can be cut to fit the hunter in a sitting position, for more comfort while waiting for the deer to step into the clear.
Most of the shooting houses that I frequent are usually overlooking a farmer’s field or a food plot. The food source is one of the keys in drawing the deer out into the open for a shot. You will need to take note of wind direction so that you can predict the direction the deer will enter the food plot.
A shooting house can cover up several mistakes hunters make while on a stand. The first mistake is that of scent. Unless you take time to change into your hunting attire once you arrive in the woods, then you are probably going to get busted by the deer’s keen sense of smell. A properly placed shooting house can reduce the risk of scent detection from the deer.
The second mistake hunters make is that of movement. No animal in our forest walks upright or stands on two legs. Movement, while on a stand can mean the unsuccessful end of a hunt. Hiding inside the shooting house can allow for fidgeters like myself to wiggle around without detection. Plus, I am not really the right size to use a climber and hang out in a tree top.
My second favorite deer stand is the ladder stand. Ladder stands have evolved into a very efficient and effective way to hunt deer. Ladder stands can be transported and stowed away in the off season. You can reposition the ladder stand each year and even during the season, but I don’t recommend it. If you get a ladder stand, make sure you buy a camouflage netting to hang up so you are concealed. The netting will break up your silhouette. You will still need to mask your scent and pay attention to wind direction to ensure a successful hunt.
RELEASE THE HOUNDS
The other technique I have enjoyed is hunting deer with hounds. Hunting deer with dogs can be very rewarding in our area. The thick vegetation in our forests and river bottoms makes for excellent safe havens for the deer population. The hunting lands that are provided for the public are vast, but with popularity and an increase in the number of hunters per acre, it tends to make the deer retreat to the thickest of cover and only move out after dark. Still, hunting in a stand on public land can be very difficult, especially if the weather conditions are not favorable for deer moving during safe light.
Deer hunting with dogs has vastly improved with the times. Technology today makes keeping up with your dogs while they are in the woods easier and more efficient. When I first started deer hunting with dogs, you spent a third of the day hunting and the other two-thirds of the day trying to find your dogs. With the tracking collar system, a hunter can be more productive and efficient while in the deer woods.
I have fond memories of getting put on a stand before daylight and waiting for the first hound to start barking. It was heart-pounding as the rest of the hounds joined in the chorus that led the deer chase out of the woods and into the hunter’s line of fire. I love a good dog hunt as much as I love any type of hunting.
You will need to read and follow the dates, regulations and dog hunting guidelines to be legally ready for the hunt. A good public land deer hunter – using dogs – can see more deer in one day than a hunter sitting on a stand on public property can see in a weeks’ worth of hunting. If you want to go on an adrenaline-filled adventure, try deer hunting with dogs.
Test out these techniques and I hope to see you in the woods. Good luck and safe hunting.