One of Fred Bear’s many famous quotes is, "There's more fun in hunting with the handicap of the bow than there is in hunting with the sureness of the gun."
I agree. I am not a gun hunter. I have nothing against gun hunters, but my hunting is done 100% with a bow. After a few seasons of having unfilled tags when gun seasons open up, I’ve learned a bit about how to change tactics when on a bowhunt during the gun season. Here they are:
1. Go Earlier and Deeper
Gun hunters like areas where they can see a long way and have clear shots. This usually means they are in a stand or shooting house looking over a field. I like to use aerial maps and scouting information to locate areas deep in cover where deer will seek refuge once the guns start going off. I plan a route that avoids fields (where the deer will be feeding in the morning) and set out well before daylight. I usually have my climber up in a tree at least an hour before the sun rises.
Often, the commotion of gun hunters going to their stands in the fields and early gunshots scatter the deer and they search for a sanctuary. Hopefully it’s where you are sitting.
2. Don’t Get Discouraged
It can be demoralizing once legal shooting hours open and guns start firing. Remember, many deer survive gun seasons and they are usually the ones that are the wisest and most mature, holing up in thick cover at the first sign of danger. Hunt the right kind of cover, and there is a good chance you may see one. Keep a positive attitude and always be alert.
3. Hunt All Day
Lie in the weeds like a Navy Seal and wait for the action to unfold around you. There is a good chance other hunters will be getting down early to take a break before the afternoon hunt. Or they will track/celebrate a deer they shot and possibly cause flurry of action in front of your stand. You want to be in the stand and ready when it happens.
4. Make Sure It's Legal
Different states vary on the laws of bowhunting while gun seasons are open. Make sure you have the right to be out there, the proper blaze-orange attire and the right tags.
Firearm deer seasons during November usually line up with the peak of a rut. If it’s legal in your state and you are a bowhunter, get out there and join the party. You may have to change your tactics, but it can be some of the best hunting of the year. Good luck to all the bowhunters and gun hunters this November!