One of the biggest lessons that I learned in my first year of hunting public land was the importance of being mobile. Even on private lands, mobile hunting can help keep you one step ahead of the deer. Here, I hope to cover some of the benefits that having an adaptive hunting strategy will give you and how you can get the most out of your mobile hunting strategy.
First time in
We have all heard the saying “first time in, best time in.” However, how many of you have actually kept track of hunting success on the first hunt compared to subsequent hunts. I did last year, and the results were astounding. On my first hunt at a public land spot, I typically saw deer. However, on the few spots that I hunted multiple times following a good first hunt, I never saw a single deer. Over the course of the entire season, I never broke that streak.
While several factors are at play, clearly deer detect us despite any scent control regiment or stealthy stand access routes we use. I had better success on subsequent hunts on private land, and part of that may be better access and reduced pressure. Despite that, having the ability and willingness to have a mobile hunting strategy makes it easier to hunt a different tree if you are constantly getting picked off by deer or the wind is a little off on a particular hunt. Additionally, being mobile gives you the opportunity to relocate when food sources change, which is incredibly useful during the early season when acorns begin to fall. Regardless, being willing to move around and hunt different locations was absolutely critical to my personal hunting success last year.
How to make it happen
The first and most critical step to having more “first sits” is to either have lots of options or not go hunting very often. I like to hunt, so I prefer to spend more time scouting to have the options necessary to move around. Even if you have lots of spots, it becomes necessary to save some locations for the best hunts of the year. In-season scouting can also help this, because it allows you to locate new spots that you didn’t have the option to hunt earlier, simply because they were unknown at that time. Another consideration is that sometimes having multiple stand locations around a particular spot can help. Two of my successful hunts last year were simply stand relocations where I moved my stand a few hundred yards. Having this as an option allows you to sit an area multiple times without the deer pinpointing your exact location.
The second important step to becoming a more mobile hunter is having good gear. While I have never been a huge gear junkie, I appreciate quality equipment now more than ever. Gear that is lightweight, silent, and easy to set up will keep you from getting discouraged and tired of setting up a stand repeatedly. While either a climbing stand or lock on and ladder sticks will work, I think both have a place in a mobile hunting strategy. In the instances when you know there is a tree that will accommodate a climber, this is a hard stand to beat. However, in many of my best spots, I wouldn’t be able to hunt out of a tree without a lock on. Whatever situation you are dealt, having a stand that you are comfortable using is vital to success.
Commit to being more mobile
Whether deer season has already started or you are still waiting for it like me, consider making the steps to having a more mobile hunting strategy. Doing so will likely lead to increased success, and you will learn a lot simply by having to hunt new spots. It takes some work, but the payoff is incredibly rewarding.