By Mark Kenyon
Six years ago, at just about this time, I remember sitting in a stale corporate apartment outside of San Francisco thinking that this upcoming hunting season was really going to suck. I was thinking this because there really wasn’t going to be any hunting season at all for me, as I’d be stuck in California working my new job and unable to get back to the midwest. But over those coming months I made a discovery that, in a small but meaningful way, did help ease that sting of missing the 2009 hunting season. And that discovery was the TV show Heartland Bowhunter.
Different than any other hunting show I’d seen to that point, HB portrayed hunting and the hunting lifestyle in a way that I could absolutely relate to – and it did it in a truly beautiful way with production and an attention to quality that outdoor TV had never seen before. Over those four months in Cali, I scratched my hunting itch by watching each episode of that Heartland Bowhunter season over and over again, dreaming of future hunting adventures of my own along the way.
Since that time, HB has continued to produce season after incredible season, and tonight unbelievably they’ll be airing their 100th episode. In celebration of that tremendous feat, my friends at Heartland Bowhunter have put together a list of some of their greatest lessons learned over the last half dozen+ years producing their show and chasing big whitetails across the country. Check out those lessons below, and if you’re interested in catching HB TV’s 100th episode tonight, a special one hour retrospective, you can watch it live at 11:00 PM EST (10:00 CST) on the Outdoor Channel.
Top 10 Deer Hunting Lessons from Heartland Bowhunter
Early season tips…
#1 “Scout, scout, scout and scout some more. Watch over bean fields (or other food source) from a distance whether it be from a road or sitting in cover with the wind in your favor so you don’t spook deer.”
#2 “Use trail cams to scout. Deer are usually still on their summer feeding patterns in the early season, so find their food source (perhaps soybeans or clover/turnip/fall food plots) and you will find the deer. A couple of trail cams located on the food source could help you determine where a target deer is entering the food source for optimal chance at harvesting that animal.”
#3 “You may not find that perfect tree for a treestand, but during early season you might not need the perfect tree to harvest the animal you are after. Take advantage of all the green foliage on the trees. You may only need to be 10 ft up a tree to get the job done.”
#4 “Do not hunt the mornings during early season. Only hunt them if your scouting efforts/trail cameras show you a buck on a pattern going back to bed and you can get into position without spooking him. I typically stay away from hunting the mornings early season because the risk is so high of bumping deer as they go back to bed off the food source that it might ruin your chances in the evening which are far more productive early season.”
#5 “The key to your successful hunt is all of your unsuccessful hunts. Lets face it, you are not successful very often and by that I mean harvesting an animal. Therefore you need to be able to hunt without tipping off the deer that you were there. Consider entrance and exit strategies to hunting locations and even trail cam locations. The last couple of years we have fine tuned how we approach our stands, focusing on the easiest way to get in and out without spooking deer. If you can get in and out, and keep wind in your favor, the deer will never know you were there.”
#6 “Shed hunt. Not because finding bone is fun, but because it tells you a lot about the deer activity on your farms, and the trails and deer sign are more distinct. This is the easiest time of year to see the paths and bedding areas that your deer used all season long. Take notes and improve your stand locations for next season. I found my best deer funnel while shed hunting, hung a stand the next season, and shot my biggest Missouri buck the 2nd day hunting that spot int he rut.”
#7 “Hunt big weather changes/fronts no matter the time of year. You may think the “October Lull” would be in full swing October 15th, but if a big change in weather such as a storm or temperature drop comes along, you better believe I will be in the stand. I shot my second biggest Missouri buck on October 9th (almost a month into season and when they tend to be
nocturnal) during a major cold front.”
#8 “Truly study trail camera photos. I see all too often people that are simply excited and content with just getting a deer on camera. Someone shows me a hit list buck and I ask them what direction they came from, time of day, how often they are on that cam, etc. and too often they have no idea. I save lots of my Reconyx trail cam images and take notes that I mentioned above to put the data and odds in my favor.”
#9 “Obviously play the wind and keep it in your favor, it’s a lesson that can never be driven home enough. If it is bad or switches in the middle of the hunt you might as well get done and out of there. ”
#10 This one’s from me – Mark. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from watching HB, is to just have fun. Every time I watch an episode of Heartland Bowhunter, my favorite thing is watching the guys laughing, having a good time in camp, and simply enjoying the hunt. Sometimes I get so worked up about trying to kill a deer, that I forget the importance of just enjoying myself and experiencing the wonders of the great outdoors – and that’s a mistake that we should never make.
Check out HB TV’s 100th episode tonight, a special one hour retrospective, live at 11:00 PM EST (10:00 CST) on the Outdoor Channel. And if you’ve never seen a Heartland Bowhunter episode, check out a few of their episodes online for free at CarbonTV.com.