| The Masters'
Secrets of Bowhunting Deer
"I usually take my biggest bucks with a bow during gun/deer season on public lands," John Demp Grace of York, Alabama, an avid bowhunter, told me several years ago.
His was the strangest comment I ever had heard an archer make, because most bowhunters I knew primarily hunted with a bow during bow season. Then when gun season arrived, they forgot their bows and picked up their 30/06s or their 7mms. The archers of my acquaintance who continued to hunt during gun/deer season usually sought out private lands where deer were undisturbed and easier to pattern. I knew of no one who deliberately high pressure hunted public lands like wildlife management areas during gun/deer season with a bow.
JOHN DEMP GRACE
Grace bowhunts public lands during gun/deer season because, "Gun/deer season is the easiest time to find and take a big buck, especially in high pressure areas like public lands. Because gun hunters and bowhunters hunt differently, the gun hunter will force a buck to move to a spot where I can locate him easily and then bag him."
Grace explains that gun hunters most often hunt open places where they can see for 50 to 200 yards since, "They want to be able to spot and take deer to the maximum effectiveness of their shooting skills and their rifles' ranges. They believe the more land they can watch, the greater their odds are for seeing a buck. Because these open places are where gun hunters walk, stalk and put their tree stands, older age class bucks have learned to avoid those areas to survive."
Grace mentions the only regions where bucks can be by the end of gun/deer season on public lands are in thick cover where the hunter can see only 30 yards or less, which are ideal stand sites for the bowhunter who wants his shot at 30 yards or less. Grace has found that older age class bucks have well-defined routes they use to go into sanctuary areas. By taking a stand along these routes, he consistently can bag the bucks the gun hunters drive to him.
"Because deer realize which natural barriers hunters won't cross such as creeks, thick cover and property lines, the three best places for me to take a stand are at creek crossings, in thick cover or along the edges of property lines," Grace reported. "Where private land touches public land, the deer on the public land know if they can get to the sanctuary of the private land, they can avoid hunting pressure. By taking a stand on a trail that leads to private land, I greatly increase my odds for bagging a buck, especially if this private land is not hunted or is hunted very little."
Grace also has studied hunter movement patterns. He knows when he's most likely to spot bucks in these stand sites he's chosen.