If you’re a hardcore bowhunter, you likely start spending time in the stand in September or October, and come December, this time of year can really start to wear on you. Though it’s something we love to do, it’s easy to get worn out. When an opportunity does present itself though to launch an arrow at a mature buck, you can’t be mentally fried, or else you might mess up. As hunters, we should be doing everything possible to ethically harvest deer, and sometimes that can mean finding ways to stay mentally fresh during the late season. If you find yourself becoming worn thin, consider these steps to staying fresh.
Take Some Time Off
If you are still trying to harvest a mature buck this year, how will taking some time off help you? Well, what I have found is it simply makes you want to be out in the woods more and the short break can be a great refresher. Normally around this time of year, I like to take a week and just chill. I don’t check trail cameras, I try and not think about hunting as much as possible, I spend time with the family and check out of hunting for a bit. It’s simple, but then once I’m refreshed and ready to go, I hit it hard again. After pumping the brakes on hunting for a bit, I feel energized when I get to spend time out in the field again. I think this is important because a lot of late season hunts can be miserably cold, snowy, etc. Getting out there with a renewed sense of purpose can do a lot of good for your mentality.
Harvest a Doe
When you get to the late season, if you’re goal is to shoot a mature buck and you either haven’t shot a deer yet this year or haven’t shot one for quite some time, something I like to do is shoot a doe. To help stay mentally fresh (and keep the freezer full), maybe all you need is to harvest a doe. The problem I see with a lot of hunters is that they want to shoot a buck so bad, that the thought of not getting one can be a big reason to start stressing out. Shooting a doe can help alleviate that, and do a lot of things for you. For me, once I decide that I want to shoot something, that adrenaline immediately rises. If you go into a hunt deciding you want to shoot a doe, and end up doing so, you can experience that adrenaline rush, the feeling of sending an arrow, tracking a deer, and coming home with some wild protein. It can help you get back in the positive mindset for the rest of your late season hunts.
There’s No Shame in Tag Soup
I’ve often found that one of the biggest reasons bowhunters become mentally worn out come late season is because of the inherent pressure you put on yourself to fill a tag. With every passing day, the pressure becomes heavier and heavier. What I can’t stress enough is this pressure a lot of hunters put on themselves is a detriment in more ways than one. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to feel a certain amount of pressure, as that can help motivate you to be successful and work harder. But when that pressure gets to an unhealthy level and you start feeling jealous every time you see someone else shoot a buck or you start doing things you normally wouldn’t, that’s when it starts to take a toll on your mental ability. To stay fresh throughout the late season, keep that pressure level low enough to still motivate you, but at the end of the day, you can’t be afraid of tag soup.
Relatively speaking, bow season can be pretty long and an absolute grind. Every year, there is unparalleled anticipation going into a season, but it’s easy for that anticipation to start dwindling throughout the year, especially once the rut is over and you haven’t shot a buck yet. What you can’t forget is there can still be great hunting ahead of you during the late season and staying fresh mentally will help you harvest a buck.