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John's Journal... Entry 64, Day 1

The Importance of Knowing When to Shoot

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: To know when to shoot, you must become a student of deer and their behavior, pay attention to the deer you're hunting and what they're doing and understand the moods and habits of deer.

The .30-06 went off with a resounding pop that echoed through the swamp. Immediately, the 4-point buck jumped backwards like a coiled spring released after compression. As quickly as the deer jumped, the hunter reloaded his gun and prepared for the next shot, while watching the white tail of the buck flagging away from him.

The deer only ran about 20 yards before stopping. Since the hunter had his .30-06 ready, he could study the animal. The buck had his head up and looked around but not into the cover where the hunter stood. The buck studied the forest floor, and his head went up and down. He stuck his neck straight out -- attempting to test the wind to see if any trace of odor remained that might let him know what had caused the crashing sound under his belly.

click to enlargeWhen the buck could pinpoint no danger, slowly and carefully, one foot at a time, he walked, stopping to look around, stick his neck out and test the air every five or six steps. The hunter aimed his gun. As the buck approached, he stretched out his neck. Finally the hunter sighted just behind the buck with his neck extended and a little low on the buck's front shoulder.

The deer bolted and ran for about 20 yards before vanishing into a cane thicket. The hunter listened as the buck crashed through the cane. Then the hunter heard nothing but silence and next a low thud. As he waited to recover his buck, he thought about how the deer had approached and why he'd gotten a second shot.

The buck had come in to the white oak acorns to feed -- very calmly and never suspecting danger -- in a region with little or no hunting pressure. This 2 1/2-year-old buck probably never had seen a hunter before.

click to enlargeWhen the hunter shot his first bullet, the deer instinctively jumped away from it. Because the deer had felt very little hunting pressure, he was more curious than frightened. The buck's calmness convinced the hunter that he might get off a second shot.

A deer often will tell you when to take the shot. If the buck hasn't become spooked and comes in calmly, you can take the shot whenever you wish. But with a nervous buck, you must have yourself ready to take the shot when the deer presents it.

click to enlargeIf you can read the body language of deer, often you can anticipate that second shot and prepare for it if you miss your first shot. Most hunters realize that understanding a buck's body language means the difference in whether or not you have success when hunting. Knowing the emotional level of the deer will tell you if you should shoot, what shot you should take, whether or not you'll get a second shot and how much you can move through the cover. Many times we fail to connect with bucks because we hurry our shots, believing if we don't shoot when we see the opportunity for any shot that we won't have the chance to take a shot. However, if we analyze the body language of the deer, often we can wait for a better shot or the best shot.

Tomorrow: The Mood of the Deer Will Tell You When to Take the Shot




Check back each day this week for more about When to Shoot ...

Day 1 -The Importance of Knowing When to Shoot
Day 2 -The Mood of the Deer Will Tell You When to Take the Shot
Day 3 -Nervously Feeding Deer
Day 4 -Stomping Deer, Bristled-Up Bucks, Running Bucks and Calm Deer
Day 5 -Paying Attention to Deer to Know When to Shoot

John's Journal