After a long spell of hot and sticky days, Mid-South hunters with an open archery season finally got a weather reprieve at the end of last week. A stout cold front dropped daytime highs from the 90s to the 70s, and lows on Saturday night dipped into the 40s. It actually felt like fall in a treestand.
The deer responded with a sharp increase in daylight activity. My buddy Tim Daughrity sat in a treestand overlooking a late-planted beanfield Saturday morning. “Movement was slow at daylight, but at 7:30, it was like you’d flipped a light switch. Deer started popping out everywhere. It looked like ants out there in the field,” he says. Tim ended up killing a doe that morning.
I saw similar activity all weekend. My first deer sighting Saturday afternoon was at 4:15, when a doe and fawn strolled across a food plot 100 yards from my stand. It was a parade of does, fawns and young bucks the rest of the evening. I hadn’t even seen an evening deer this season before the last 30 minutes of shooting light on any given day, so all the activity was a welcome change.
The action continued into yesterday evening. I was sitting in a ground blind over a chicory / clover plot, and a fat doe finally fed to within 30 yards and turned broadside. My first deer of the season made it about 50 yards before crashing.
Much as the cool weather has the does on their feet, the bucks definitely seem to be nearing that early pre-rut phase, where they become more cautious and more nocturnal. Most have shed their velvet and, judging by the number of young bucks I saw flying solo this weekend, bachelor groups are beginning to bust up as well.
This phase of the season can be difficult to hunt, but “jacket weather” mornings and deer on their feet – even if they’re not big bucks – make it worth every minute in my book.