Lessons From Last Deer Season

Now is the perfect time to reflect on the 2018 deer season, and begin planning for this fall’s hunt.

Lessons From Last Deer Season

Cold temps surprised the author during his 2018 Oklahoma hunt, but he wore everything he packed and then finally shot a decent-sized whitetail buck.

Wow! In a whirlwind, whitetail season has come and gone. It all went by so quickly — again. Try not to fret. Though it likely won’t feel like it, it will be back, probably all too soon.

Reflecting on 2018

Last year, I spent countless hours sitting in treestands and blinds, or gazing through high-powered optics, hoping to spot and harvest a whitetail. A few new bucks have found a place on my office walls. Did I learn anything over the course of the deer season? I hope so.

Let’s see . . . after three tries, I finally harvested a Coues whitetail in my neighboring state of New Mexico. To do so, I put in  a lot of time staring at a computer screen. First, I had to draw a tag. I think I wore out my mouse clicking through goHUNT’s website to find the best draw odds and optimal location for a successful outcome. Tag in-hand, I then turned to onX’s mapping tool. E-scouting proved to be a key factor in my first successful New Mexico deer hunt. I killed my buck from the vantage my first waypoint provided.

Third time’s the charm: the author with his 2018 New Mexico Coues buck.
Third time’s the charm: the author with his 2018 New Mexico Coues buck.

During the whitetail rut, I was in Oklahoma. In preparation for the hunt, I looked at weather reports to assist me in assembling a camo package. Unfortunately, I looked too early and did not verify the weather closer to the hunt. Originally, when I checked, I had prepared for highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s. I arrived in a blizzard, and wind chills dove into the single digits during my weeklong stay. I had great gear, just not the appropriate pieces or nearly enough layers. I nearly froze my you-know-what off! The temps finally warmed a bit, and I did shoot a decent buck.

After Thanksgiving, I turned back to Coues hunting at home in Arizona. I didn’t scout because I had hunted the unit previously. Well, I scouted 1 day — I didn’t see a deer! That was close to how the hunt went as well. I spent a week in search of a shooter buck, yet never managed to find one. My son and I found just four bucks, the biggest a big 2-point or 6-point, depending on your “Lat-Long.” The day after the hunt — as the cook in my house — I served tag soup.

Preparing for 2019

I am already preparing for this fall. In fact, I’ve been preparing since late last fall. The freezer is full of venison, and I have completely recovered from the unfortunate day-after-deer-season meal. Luckily, I was on his nice list, so Santa updated my camo wardrobe. I bought a new mouse; goHUNT and onX are monitoring their servers closely!

In all seriousness, this is the best time to reinvigorate your whitetail hunting passion. The more time you spend reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, coupled with a plan for continuing successes and overcoming failures, the better whitetail hunter you’ll become. The downside: After a few years of following these practices, you may have to expand your trophy room. 

P.S. As always, if there is a topic you would like to see highlighted or expanded upon Whitetail Journal, please do not hesitate to send me an email with your thoughts. Reach me at darren.choate@grandviewoutdoors.com.

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