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The last 2 weekends I've been to the high country of Colorado, buzzed the open country of Kansas, and to the bow doctor to spin test my arrows. Let's face it, scouting and preparation builds confidence...or it can freak you out if you don't find what you want or when your broadhead tipped arrows fly down range all jabberwaulky.
It is certainly rewarding when you've identified a buck or high country basin to later have that animal on the ground or find that basin echoing with rut crazed bugling bulls. Scouting paid off. But, when the hunt turns tough, the buck disappears or that basin is empty, preparation, mental toughness, and drive will ultimately test your true hunting skills and grit. I can think of two seasons where this was never more evident. The 2004 and 2011 archery deer season.
In 2004 was the first year I took my scouting to new levels...and they have never reached that point since. The pending KS whitetail season found me glassing a beautiful velvet 11 point the entire month of July. When the season came upon me, I never saw the buck. I hung 17 different stands. I was anxious, irritable, and basically a basket case. I was questioning my bowhunting ability. Then on Nov 12th, his head appeared over the reeds of the marsh. When I hung the treestand in Sept, I weaved small limbs through the expanded metal. When you do this, they retain their leaves. I grunted and kicked the limbs to simulate a rutting buck rubbing a tree. It worked just as I envisioned. He closed the distance from 200 yds to 8.
The 2004 bow season wasn't particularly fun for me. Had the season not ended up like that, I am not sure what impression it would have left behind, but I vowed not get too anxious or uptight again...when it happens it happens.
The 2011 season, now well into the Heads Up Decoy era, I found a great rolling pasture peppered with large yuccas secluded from the road and 1/2 mile from the river bottom. I didn't have to scout to know that this pasture would house a mature buck tending a doe in November. The Sunday morning before Thanksgiving week found a large mature whitetail materialize upwind of me as the morning light brightened enough to see movement through the binos. He was obviously preoccupied with a hot doe. It was the first big buck of 2011 that got me fired up. After 90 minutes of crawling, positioning, calling and ultimately decoying that buck in, all that was left was a small pile of hair from the chest of the great buck and a sick feeling in my gut.
For me, as I anxiously wait in anticipation the opportunity to arrow that big buck or bull, preparation goes beyond scouting. It's getting my mind right. Remembering that it's hunting and that anything can happen.
Good luck this season and Be Mobile...Stay Mobile