Archery season in most of Mississippi opens Oct. 1. For deer hunters, it is a special time, as it begins the four-month deer season.
The season can be divided into a variety of weapons, but archers have the full four months. As overall hunter numbers across the nation dwindle, bow hunting is seeing an increase, and for good reason.
It is challenging, it is rewarding and, most of all, it is fun.
But to be successful requires some skill — arguably much more skill than necessary to pull take a deer with a rifle.
So Mississippi Sportsman asked some hunters who have proved their worth with a string and stick to share their secrets.
Wiggins’ B.J. Lewis knows the frustrations of bow hunting after chasing a Stone County 7-point during the fall of 2012.
In fact, he proved the old saw about the third time being the charm.
Following a miss and a bust, he connected with a Stone County 7-point he had hunted for weeks.
Having picked up a bow for the first time in the early 1990s, Lewis prefers to hunt from a lock-on tree stand placed near trail crossings and where available browse is plentiful. He also prepares small food plots — about an eighth of an acre in size — on the family land he hunts in southern Stone County.
“I like to get the little food plot in the ground in August or September,” Lewis said. “Then I start looking for signs of activity, such as rubs or scrapes. I believe in using trail cameras to identify the deer I have in the area, using time stamps and camera locations to predict movement patterns. This was the case last season when the 7-point showed up in my pictures.”
Lewis discovered that the buck he wanted was traveling with a 6-point and a doe. Often the three of them were traveling together or very near one another. Lewis studied the deer, and passed shots on lesser bucks and does as he waited for the 7-point he wanted to offer a shot.
And the buck did just that.
“Maybe it was the first shot of the season jitters, maybe the buck jumped the string, maybe I just missed, but the arrow sailed just over his back at 30 yards, spooking the trio (of deer),” Lewis said.
The hunter worried, but kept at it. He was soon rewarded with another shot at the deer.
“A few days later they returned, much closer (to the stand site) this time,” Lewis said. “Somewhere between half and three-quarter draw, the 7-point busted me, seeing my movement.
“This time there was no shot. The woods were eerily silent as the deer bounded away, tails high.”
Not seeing the trio for a few hunts, Lewis was starting to wonder if he had ruined the stand. But persistence is part of the art of hunting; the trio would return, and this time the plan would come together.
“The woods were pretty quiet, so I was doing some stuff with my iPhone,” Lewis said. “I looked up, and the doe was standing in the food plot. She had noticed me, but the bucks were not with her.
“I sat still and finished what I was doing, only my thumbs moving on the (phone). Sure enough, about five minutes later, the 6- and 7-pointers joined the doe. This time he walked, quartering away from me at 20 yards.
“This time the arrow was spot-on. My buck went fewer than 20 yards before piling up.”
Lewis’ 7-point had a 16-inch inside spread. Not much of a trophy in some parts of the state, perhaps, but it’s a good buck for southern Stone County — and is a testament of determination and proper planning.
Lewis said it’s important to become one with your equipment. Practice as often as possible and know your bow and its limitations. Shooting should be natural and fluid. Have an arrow knocked and ready to fire, with minimal movement in the stand.
• Bow — Hoyt Maxis 31 set at 70 pounds and
a 27-inch draw
• Arrows — Easton Axis equipped with 2-inch vanes and tipped with Grim Reaper Hades broadheads