WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A day in the hunting life

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A day in the hunting life


It’s still dark as you get your gear out of your vehicle. A backpack with some snacks and water, some bug repellent for mosquitos and ticks, and a good flashlight.

You’ll use the light to pick out the “cat eyes,” luminous tacks that reflect light, that you have pushed into some of the tree trunks to guide you to your treestand in the pre-dawn darkness.

If you are a dedicated deer hunter, you will have picked out a spot for your treestand, whether it is a ladder stand or climber, ahead of this morning so you will not be making a lot of fuss as you go into the still, heavily foliaged woods.

The woods are eerily quiet and you try not to make too much noise as you trek on to your spot, the excitement of the coming day growing by the moment. It’s the opening day of the archery season for both whitetailed deer and turkey in Connecticut.

Once in the treestand, you get comfortable as you sit and listen to the area around you slowly come to life.

The first to greet you, if you are lucky, will probably be the hooting of an owl. From the sound of it, you know that the owl is close, but even if it was lighter you probably would not see it because of the leaves still on the trees.

Tthen you will be greeted by the cawing of some crows as they stir about and see what mischief they can get into this day. If they locate the owl, you know they will really become noisy if they spot him in the trees. There is a distinct dislike for owls and hawks by crows.

It’s starting to get lighter now and a slight rustling in the leaves gets you attention, but in the low light it is impossible to tell what is rustling.

The sound gets a bit louder and it is coming from behind you, so you twist around in your stand and it makes a slight noise. The next thing you hear is a loud blowing sound — deer use a rapid exhaling of their breath to sound a warning, often called a “blow” or snort.

The deer runs off a short way and continues to blow, trying to get whatever it was that scared it to make a move. Pretty soon the deer seems to settle down and the woods become a bit quieter again.

The deer has moved off, but you still have the rest of the morning ahead of you to hunt. So once again you settle down in your treestand for some more deer hunting with your bow.

As it gets lighter, you spot a squirrel scurrying along the ground. It starts to climb a tree right next to you, then changes its mind and heads back to the ground.

You are glad it took that course because more than once a gray squirrel has caused you to lose a chance at tagging a deer because of its warning chatter. It is amazing how such a small critter can make so much noise when startled.

A couple of curious chickadees come flitting up close, and one of them even has the audacity to perch for a second on the brim of your hat. They are fun to watch as they flit from branch to branch looking for something to eat.

It is now almost a half-hour after sunrise and a slight movement off in the distance gets your attention, but with the all of the leaves it is hard to see what made it.

Then you see a flicker of movement and you think it is a small bird, but as you stare at it intently your heart skips a beat. It is the ear of a deer and it seems to be looking in your direction.

It turns away and you start to get ready in case it comes your way.

A closer look reveals there are three deer and they all look to be does. All right, some good venison for the freezer if they come in range of your bow. 

And here they come, slowly browsing the forest floor looking for something good to eat. From the looks of their behavior, they have no idea you are here!

This is the time when as a bowhunter you are put to the test. Any sudden movement on your part will alert the deer and they will take off.

But they seem to be completely relaxed as they keep coming your way. It’s a wonder they don’t hear your heart pounding.

If having a wild critter like a deer come up close and personal to your spot in their woods doesn’t get you excited, you should probably stay home and watch TV.

Just knowing you were smart enough to pick the right spot to see deer and other wildlife while on a deer stand is what makes it all worthwhile, especially if you are a woods hunter or one of those hard core hunters who likes to hunt on some of the state lands open to deer hunting.

One of the things that I practice when in a treestand is to always keep the bow or firearm I am using at the ready. Yes, I know it can be tedious at times, but more than once in my earlier hunting forays I messed up a chance at a deer by reaching for my bow or firearm hanging on a hook screwed into the tree.

I have found that both deer and turkey can pick up the movement, and if they know you do not belong there, it is game over!

On this first day of archery season in Connecticut, you did everything right and you will be feasting on some venison tenderloin when you get home!

Deer and turkey season open for archery hunters next Wednesday, Sept. 15 on both private and state land. It runs to Dec. 3 on private land and Nov. 16 on state land, reopening for archery Dec. 22-31.  

Hunting hours for deer are a half hour before sunrise to sunset on both private and state land, with a bag limit of two deer, either sex, and two antlerless deer.

Fall archery season for turkey is Sept. 15 to Dec. 31 on private land and Sept. 15 to Nov. 16 on state land, reopening Dec. 22-31, with a bag limit of two turkeys, either sex.

As Ted Nugent would say, “I can smell the fall!” Enjoy your bowhunting.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be servig our great country.   

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