Deerhunting Aint Always Deerhunting

July 13, 2020 | « back

By: Ted Nugent

The big old swampdonkey matriarch doe was still a ways off, more than 100 yards due south of me, upwind with a strong, steady breeze at her backside. She appeared off and on as she slowly skirted in and out of the heavy cover twixt the standing cornfield and the golden marshgrass, swaying reed-hell of my magical, mystical Michigan swamplands.

I was invisible, completely covered up by the huge trunk and limbs in the heavy oak leaf, dark shadowy canopy of my favorite ambush perch.

The setup could not have been better as she cautiously picked her way, slow step by step towards the bean field and my killer foodplot beneath me.

I’ve been bowhunting these berserk spooky whitetails for more than 65 years, so I was not surprised at all when she jerked her head up, lifted her amazing nose into the air, twisted her radar ears to and fro, stomped and snorted, then pivoted and bounded off into the woodlands like she had just run into a coiled panther.

This standard, maniacal escape modus operandi of Michigan whitetails occurs with such regularity, that successful backstrappers have come to learn over the years that we must implement equally maniacal predator stealth and commando awareness if we expect and dream to bring home the bacon with any consistency.

When you witness me and other heartland bowhunters get crazy excited when celebrating such hard earned kills, it is because we have been skunked so many times before we ever get lucky.

When I first hunted whitetails in Texas way back in the 1970s, I naturally implemented my lifetime learned gungho Michigan proven approach, making sure I used the wind, sun, shadows, camouflage, silence, stealth strategies to make a kill.

The first thing I immediately noticed was the easy-going lack of alertness that Texas’ deer displayed.

Unlike my Michigan deer, these Texas critters seemed to lollygag along the trails with nowhere near the attentiveness and spookiness of my Michigan deer.

After arrowing a number of Texas deer over the years, it became quite clear that these animals were completely different deer, and I must admit, it sure was wonderful to be able to come to fulldraw and make kills at a far increased percentage than I was used to.

Accordingly, this old addicted bowhunter moved to Texas 18 years ago! Go figure!

I have experienced many such variations of these same deerhunting observations in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

The great Fred Bear proclaimed often that if a bowhunter can consistently kill Michigan whitetails, they can successfully bowkill any game anywhere.

Cleverly and intensely managing my quality of life time each fall and winter deerseason to be able to hunt literally everyday for months on end, (oh glory glory Hallelujah!) I suppose I could mistakenly believe I have seen it all.

But if I have learned anything meaningful in a lifetime of deerwoods celebration, it is that there is no all, but rather a never-ending series of new and intriguing lessons of the wild, that it is best to pay attention to and learn all we can.

I still hunt nonstop in both Michigan and Texas September through February, and I cherish each and every day afield with much vigor and gusto. The deer on my Texas ranch get spookier every year and act more like Michigan deer than average Texas deer. Must be something about the pressure we exert on them with all that nonstop hunting. Being that as it may, I still experience new and different lessons that go into my deerhunter memory bank in my never-ending pursuit of being the best deerhunter I can be.

No matter where you deerhunt, the smarter and more tuned in we hunt will always make for the most gratifying experiences, kill or no kill. Eventually all those lessons will teach us how to improve our predatorship responsibilities and strategies and the spirit backstraps will eventually flow!