John's Journal...


Circle The Thickets

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Chris Kirby, who lives in Orchard Park, New York, the president of Quaker Boy Calls, also avidly hunts during snowstorms. Kirby explains, "If you don't hunt during snowstorms where I live, you may never get a chance to hunt all deer season. Today, I'll share all the secrets Chris taught me about hunting for deer in a snowstorm.

According to Kirby, "I like to hunt when the snow has fallen all night and continues falling when I get up in the morning. When hunting in that kind of weather, I usually find that more than likely the deer have bedded down at night to dodge the snow. But by morning, they must get up and search for food or at least move around some." A few years ago, Kirby had especially good luck on a morning he planned toClick to enlarge hunt. He had ideal conditions. A snowstorm had hit during the night, and the snow still fell heavily when he left his home. "I decided to check every thicket on the property where I hunted," Kirby mentioned. When Kirby inspects a thicket during a snowstorm, he walks downwind of the thicket, moves inside the area and then circles into the wind on both sides of the thicket to look for fresh deer tracks. "If I see tracks going into the thicket, I know a deer must have laid them recently," Kirby explained. "Otherwise snow already will have filled them. Next I move into the thicket to jump the deer. If the tracks show the deer moving away from the thicket, I know the deer just recently has left the thick-cover area. I follow the tracks, hoping to catch up with the buck."

Click to enlargeOn this particular morning, Kirby discovered a set of big tracks going into a thicket. Because the tracks showed the deer had walked into the wind, Kirby could pursue the deer without the deer's smelling him. Since the wind raged, he also could follow the deer without the deer's hearing him. "I followed the tracks through the pines and a feeding area," Kirby recalled. "The tracks seemed to circle back to the pines where I'd first picked them up. I could tell the deer walked slowly as if unalarmed. I moved more quickly to catch up with him."

Click to enlargeJust as Kirby topped the ridge, he spotted the big buck, a nice 8 point, moving down the ridge not 40 yards in front of him. Cold and excited, Kirby quickly brought his shotgun to his shoulder and took the shot. "I just missed the deer," Kirby remembered. "I must have caught buck fever and shot too quickly over the deer's back. As the deer sprinted away, I took two more shots and never cut a hair on the deer's hide. "I was so excited after tracking the deer for about an hour to finally see him. I also was surprised at how big he was. I didn't take time to steady myself for an accurate shot. I had the chance of a lifetime, and I blew it. But I can promise you this, the next time snow falls at night and continues in the morning, I'll hunt those thickets again."


Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO HUNT DEER IN A SNOWSTORM...

Day 1 - Snow Storm: Ideal Condition for Hunting Deer?
Day 2 - Hear No Evil -- See No Evil
Day 3 - Hunt the Calm in the Middle of the Storm
Day 4 - Hunt the Grocery Rush
Day 5 - Circle The Thickets



Entry 277, Day 5