A new year has started

Written on 02/04/2024
Outdoors with Bud, By Bud Fields

Okay, folks. Here we are, and it is hard to realize a new year has started. It seems like time is certainly flying. I was just getting used to putting 2023 on my checks, and now it is 2024. Like everyone else, I have managed to make some New Year’s resolutions, but that was the easy part.

I always have difficulty keeping those resolutions. I managed to start losing some weight a few months ago, and I have pretty well kept that as one of the foremost resolutions. I have strived to be a better person, and I still manage to rub people the wrong way, especially those who do not share my enthusiasm for the outdoors.

I have always said that the outdoors lifestyle is not for everybody, but I like to share tips and techniques that I have discovered throughout my career and hope that it helps other people enjoy their time spent outdoors.

By now, the Indiana deer hunting season has come to an end. I always look back over the last season to review the mistakes and success I had, and ask myself, “What could I have done better or different?” I made several errors, but I relied on past experiences from every location I hunted. That can help you, and it can also hurt you.

One experience I had was what I considered a fluke. I had hunted this particular ladder stand multiple times every year for the last 25 years, and I never had a deer come from that direction. NEVER! I had shot multiple deer from several other directions, and from hunting those spots, I pretty well had knowledge for distances.

Well, a big, mature doe came in, and I had to make a rushed decision on yardage and where to execute the shot. Well, I misjudged the yardage, and I shot right under her. After that blooper, I took my digital rangefinder and measured the yardages. Now, I dare any deer to come from that direction again.

I also noticed several other spots where I observed deer movement. Next Spring, I will place a few more trail cameras in the woods, most likely in April, and monitor them regularly to see if there is enough activity to warrant placing a ladder stand or camo ground blind there for the 2024 deer hunting seasons.

Trust me, I saw plenty of activity this past season. I almost placed a blind there this past season, but I did not want to alert the deer. I prefer to place my stand early, before season starts, to allow the deer to get used to seeing it and relaxing as they enter and leave the area.

I also wanted to experiment with a few changes in equipment. I will make them during early Spring into Summer to see if it will help or hinder my efforts. I want to try a couple new broadheads that I have read about. Sometimes, a change like this will be great, and other times it can be a bad choice.

I also got the opportunity to hunt another new spot that is much closer to my home. The landowner told me no one hunts this spot, and he sees quite a few deer there regularly. I plan to talk with him in early Spring, and my grandson and I will do some scouting to see what it looks like. You never know until you look it over, and I always enjoy checking out a new place to hunt.

I normally try to attend as many fishing expos and hunting expos as possible to see what the industry has come up with. I always see things that impress me, and sometimes it does help. Oftentimes, it does not, but I enjoy talking to the product representatives and picking their brains.

Whenever I decide to make a change, no matter how slight, I usually give that change a couple weeks of honest evaluation before I decide to keep it or abandon it. I have discovered that being a tinkerer is sometimes a blessing, but oftentimes it is a disaster. You want to know well before the hunting or fishing seasons begin if you want to keep the change or return to the original set-up.

Another thing I like to do at the start of the new year is review all the photos I received from my trail cameras. I start placing my cameras in April, and I get to see the does before they drop their fawns. I check every three weeks, and I get to observe the females before the fawns arrive and after they are born.

I get to know each doe and how many fawns she has. I watch them travel through the woods, and I study their daily patterns of travel, feeding, and bedding. I also see the bucks as they start growing their new antlers. By the time deer season arrives, my confidence is high.

My New Year’s resolutions may be different than yours, and it might take more effort. But it is well worth the effort. I have placed three deer in my freezer the last three seasons, and that has really lowered our grocery bill. If you shop very often, you know how expensive that is.