Monday, August 25, 2014

Prepping Your Hunting Site for the Wheelchair Hunter


This week’s article can mean the difference in whether you make a successful shot on that trophy buck or go through the remainder of the winter kicking yourself for what might have been.  There are enough variables that go into hunting an animal that smells everything, hears very well and spooks as easily as a White Tail. Site prep can at the maximum slant some of those variables to your favor if not at least level the playing field for the wheeled sportsman.

If the land you are hunting is really good, then it is also typically on the wilder side.  The place I am hunting this year was at one time a place where a family kept horses.  It has been two years since the horses have been on their place and the fields and groves have done exactly what God intended, they have taken over!  This leads to our first tip and goes for anyone whether disabled or not – only change what is absolutely necessary.  You do not want to make an overwhelming change to a deer’s environment.  Error on the side of the minimalist here.  We cut one main trail so I can get my wheelchair in and out with relative ease.  We will maintain this pathway until about mid-September and then not mow again until after the season is over.

The people who own the place offered to have it bush-hogged but we declined.  A major change would have been too much for the deer to feel comfortable in continuing to move through these fields have been doing.  The grass is about three and half to four feet tall.  This was going to be impossible for my chair to move through and as mentioned in last week’s article, I did get seriously stuck.  The flip side of this is the grass also showed very clearly where the deer had been moving through.  It provided them the cover they needed to continue to range all over this property.  Never take away the very thing that gives them that sense of security.  You want them to feel secure and confident.

Illustrated by Scott Anderson
The illustration above shows you my setup and kill zone.  The trail we cut into the grass from where we park runs right up to where my ground stand will be placed.  We then mowed a shooting lane through the tall grass to the spot we have viewed deer sign and trails.  In the picture, you see the forest, the field and then the big White Oak tree with Crab-Apple trees all around it.  Several of the apple bushes had been cleared in the lower levels and it was apparent that this would be a great spot for me to setup.  Deer love White-Oak acorns which should begin to drop in early October.  We are hoping that this will be the natural lure to bring them calling.

Shooting lane with Decoy
Again choosing to leave some natural environment, we did not mow the side lanes in the illustration above.  Instead, we simply ran over these with the mower to press the grass down some for a better view and possible shot.  With a crossbow or regular bow, the closer the shot the greater chance for a direct hit to the vitals and to humanely take the animal.

Anything else after we have created the trails and shooting lanes?  Absolutely!  For some strange reason, there always seems to be a difference when you move from the practice range to shooting with big trees, open fields.  The different objects that you have become accustomed to where you have been practicing are all gone and so is yardage clues.  It is critical to take a target to your hunting location and actually take some shots and see what subtle difference there may be.  Range your shots and be certain of your distances.  Is the ground rising or falling?  Is it a side hill, uphill or downhill shot?  All of these factors are variables in making great shots.  The good news is these are all variables that can be known with some practice and diligence.
Grouping at 35 Yards

Lastly, it will be critical to give your area a break for a good week or two before season starts.  It allows the deer to move naturally and lessens your scent in the area. This last point means you only have a few weeks left from the time of publishing to when the season starts depending on your State to get your site prepped.  So, get to krack-a-lackin people.

So lets recap – Prepping a site is important but be sure to not over do it.  Stage the area so that the deer are still moving naturally to a position you have ranged and have practiced shooting to so that you are completely comfortable with making THE shot.  Leave your area quiet a good week or more before season starts.  Go get‘em folks and please share your successes at our new Facebook Page!

- Scott Anderson
handicappedoutdoors@gmail.com

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