The second week of rifle deer season is about to commence, and it has a definitely different atmosphere than the first week.
Especially this year, since in this and a few other management areas, it is also antlerless season. It started the last Saturday of the first week, and there was plenty of shooting all around that day.
It is likely that hunters will be more on the move this week trying to stir up deer. The excitement and hope that deer will be pushed around the woods by other hunters and our dream buck will run by us in the confusion has dimmed but not completely died. Most deer camps have broken up, and hunts are pretty much just solitary affairs. Depending entirely on how many hunters are afield in your area, waiting around on one's favorite deer stand may not yield many sightings of deer during this week.
Now, we are down to having to hunt the lonely hunt. Still-hunting, my favorite way to go anyhow, is most productive. Most of us, however, have no realistic idea of how slow is best. The deer are generally bedded during the day, although they may get up during the day to shift position or find some browse. But the game this week boils down to whether it's the hunter or the deer that sees the other one first.
My own still-hunting habits had to be developed slowly. How many years ago was it that I got disgusted with myself for spooking deer after deer, seeing only a glimpse of a disappearing white tail, and decided I'd better get better at sneaking around in the woods.
I read a lot of magazine articles and a couple of books about still-hunting and realized immediately that what I considered slow was - to a deer - racehorse fast. The best advice I gleaned from all I read and heard was that limiting the number of steps I took in the woods would help slow me down. And so it did. If I'm still-hunting and not just hiking to some location, I take three to five steps - no more - and stop. I try to stop beside a tree or bush so I can blend in if possible. I look around and then use my compact binoculars to penetrate brush, blowdowns or anything a deer could lie in or under. I am always surprised by how I can pick out an eye or an antler or a flicking ear, etc., through the binoculars that I could not see with my naked eye. You will not see me in the woods without those glasses around my neck.
For convenience I shorten the strap on my binoculars so that they are high on my chest, giving me just enough clearance to get over my nose and to my eyes. Placed this way, the binoculars do not interfere with raising the rifle and taking a shot, and they do not have enough slack to be bumping against you with every step.
This is the regimen that works for me. A few steps, stop, scan the area then glass the thicker stuff with the glasses. Once that develops into a natural habit of hunting, you'll find that it will often be you who sees the deer before it sees you.
Another thing I do to limit movement is to make any movements vertical in front of my body. I keep my arm tight to my side when I get a hanky, for instance, out of a pocket and I bring it to my face in front of my body. I eat a sandwich or apple in the same way.
The second week is a time when deer scent can be effective. I remember some years ago when I was hunting on Thursday of the second week. I sat down for awhile to watch and set a bottle of deer attractant about 3 yards in front of me. A big mistake. Never set scent close to you; it draws a deer's attention right to you.
As I scanned the woods slowly I saw a buck staring right at me, about 75 yards away and slightly behind me. Was I caught! By moving incredibly slowly, I was able to get myself cranked around enough to be able to get off a shot. But he was riveted on that scent and was looking for the deer he "smelled."
I use scents and grunt tubes much more in the solitary second week than I do in the first week.