by Ben Van Devender
Deer season is in full swing and we are transitioning from early season tactics to the first phase of the pre rut in October. This is a key time for deer as food sources swing from late summer to early fall, and as a hunter you should be prepared and ready for this switch. The last bit of late summer food is dwindling, the last of the muscadines are hitting the ground the pin oaks are falling, and the white oaks are preparing to drop or ARE dropping depending on your hunting area.
This time of year I switch to oak ridges from the low muscadine bottoms. I also rely more on my game cameras in these areas to clue me in on when to make my switch. Recently I was mentoring a friend who had a rough season last year and I got pictures of what would be a good buck for him to take. We made plans to setup the next day and take advantage on this deer’s change in pattern. One thing I can say after years of experience is that when deer, especially a buck, changes his pattern you better be ready to capitalize on it, because it often does not last long.
My buddy and I set up in a ground blind that had good wind in the spot this buck was coming to. We got in early, in case this buck was bedded nearby, to make sure the woods would quiet and calm well before his previous time of attendance. As darkness approached we both felt like we made the wrong call and that this deer was not going to show up; or, would show up well after dark. Somehow he had sensed us and changed his tune. 10 minutes before illegal shooting light I see a big body moving through the briar thicket coming into the wood line. My buddy got into position, turned on his Bruin Crossbow’s Illuminated scope on the lowest brightness, and picked out his lane. The buck made his way through the edge of the woods and closer to us. Finally, stopping at 30 yards where my friend made an excellent shot. The buck took off and we heard the crash in the fallen timber about 30 yards away. We were both ecstatic and gave the buck time to expire before picking up the short track job and beginning our long haul out of the woods.
None of this would be possible without the knowledge, motivation, intel from scouting, and game cameras helping inform us as hunters on when to adapt. Adapting as the season changes is a crucial element of success that is often overlooked.