When it comes to bowhunting, Michael Snowden of Rose Hill hunts all season, but he knows his best chance will come during the rut.
“Usually it’s hot and dry during our early bow season where I hunt, so I’m going to concentrate on hunting around water with food sources like acorns, and near bedding areas,” Snowden said. “I’ve had good success placing stands in multiple areas and hunting them only when the wind is right.”
Snowden knows his chances rise and variables fall after the weather cools, when bucks turn their attention to reproduction.
Otherwise known as the rut, it’s the time when smart hunters use all they’ve learned through the early part of the season to be in an area where a trophy buck is likely to be found chasing does.
Snowden’s 2016 season is a perfect example. He ventured to a new hunting spot that had a narrow strip of timber with a creek running through it and CRP fields on either side. The draw had three trails converging, and it was chock full of cottonwoods and hardwood timber, a perfect, secluded corridor for deer activity.
“I found the area and studied a map and then went in there and hung a stand on a good-looking spot,” Snowden said. “The first day I hunted it, I saw a lot of deer movement, with does using the creek bottom while feeding and traveling through. I was up pretty high, and the deer never knew I was in there.”
Snowden walked quite a ways to get back to the stand, and on the third day, with the rut underway, things got interesting.
“I got up in the stand at daybreak and about 7:30, a hot doe came through acting kind of funny,” he said. “A few minutes later, I heard a buck grunting, and it really got exciting. About 15 minutes after the doe came through, I heard another deer chasing her through the water towards me.”
Suddenly a buck with a rocking chair rack came charging through and chased the doe into the CRP field.
“I grunted at him to try and get him to come my way, but he chased her on into the field,” he said. “They came within sight of me twice, and they finally came near my stand. This time the doe came down the creek bank, and he followed her right into my shooting lane. I shot him at 28 yards with my Bear Escape.”
The buck sported a 9-point rack with long tines and a wide spread; it was the biggest buck he’d ever killed.
Snowden believes in getting plenty of preseason practice and scouting, then being patient while spending lots of time in the stand, learning as much as possible on every hunt.
When the opportunity for success comes, a hunter can be ready to take advantage of the situation.
“Practice, practice, practice, is what I believe in,” he said. “Don’t overpower yourself with a bow that has too much poundage. Get a bow with a comfortable (draw) weight and adjust the poundage and practice regularly until you’re confident you can make the shot.”