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Art Lander’s Outdoors: There’s still plenty for hunters to know as deer season gets going


The next three weeks offer the best archery hunting of the season as the rut approaches. (Photo provided)

The next three weeks offer the best archery hunting of the season as the rut approaches. (Photo provided)

 
Shorter days, cooler temperatures and colorful leaves are a sign of the season. For avid deer hunters, it’s the time of year when opportunities abound. Here’s some deer season news and observations:
 
Archery season shifts into high gear
 
The next three weeks, leading up to the opening of gun season for deer on Nov. 8, offer the best bow hunting of the year.
 
The shortening hours of daylight combine with cooler temperatures to trigger estrus in does. The first week of November, as the first does come into heat, big bucks are on their feet during daylight hours searching for receptive does. The rut, the whitetail’s annual mating season, can start literally overnight, anytime that week.
 

   Archers have the best opportunity over the next three weeks to find bucks to hunt from treestands. (Photo provided)

Archers have the best opportunity over the next three weeks to find bucks to hunt from treestands. (Photo provided)

Also, deer are feeding heavily on protein-rich acorns, to put fat on for the winter. They are highly visible in oak woods, and also frequent clover and winter wheat fields. Recent rains have really helped newly-planted clover and winter wheat. Stands of this high-quality forage are very lush now and will stay that way until killed back by frost.
 
The best days to hunt in the afternoon are around the quarter moons of Oct. 15 and Oct. 30. Hunt in the mornings on the days around Oct. 23, the dark of the moon. A full moon on Nov. 6 will mean that deer will be running all night, and laying up for a few hours in the mornings, so midday hunting could be good, as bucks resume their frantic searching.
 
While this year’s deer harvest by archers in September (5,299) was well short of last year’s record (5,838), it was the third year in a row that archers took more than 5,200 deer during September. Last year, the September archery kill accounted for 28.02 percent of all deer taken by archers. Archers are hunting early in the season regardless of the weather.
 
Early muzzleloader season for deer opens Saturday
 
The early muzzleloader season for deer opens Saturday. The two-day season on Oct. 18-19, is the first of two firearms seasons for those who want to hunt with muzzleloading rifles or handguns. The nine-day late muzzleloader deer season is Dec. 13-21.
 
Youth hunters may also hunt deer with muzzleloaders during youth-only seasons, and all hunters may hunt with muzzleloaders during the November gun season.
 
Traditional firearms, with flint or percussion ignition, as well as modern in-line muzzleloading rifles with optical sights, are legal in Kentucky. Black powder and synthetic propellants may be used with round balls, conical bullets or saboted bullets.
 
As interest in archery hunting has grown in recent years, the overall number of deer taken with muzzleloading firearms has declined rather dramatically. In fact, archers have taken more deer than muzzleloading firearms hunters the past four deer seasons.
 
Last season the total archery harvest was 20,835 deer compared to 15,642 taken with muzzleloaders, according to harvest data posted on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website. For deer harvest data, visit here.
 
Safety in the trees
 
Research has shown that about 86 percent of treestand accidents occur while hunters are climbing up to or down from their stands. Also, a majority of hunters are never attached to the tree while ascending or descending. That’s a recipe for disaster – severe injury, even death.
 

The Hunger Safety System Life Line keeps the hunter attached to the tree at all times when ascending or descending the treestand. (Photo provided)

The Hunger Safety System Life Line keeps the hunter attached to the tree at all times when ascending or descending the treestand. (Photo provided)

Falls are most likely to occur just as the hunter is arriving at or departing from the treestand’s seat, and stepping onto the ladder or climbing sticks. Safety lines are the answer to this potentially dangerous situation when hunting from ladder or fixed-position treestands.
 
Hunter Safety System, found here, of Danville, Alabama, produces a line of safety harnesses and accessories for the treestand deer hunter. This includes the Life Line, a 27-foot rope with a loop at one end, sliding prussic knot and carabiner, so this safety line can be attached to the hunter’s safety harness/vest.
 
Once the treestand has been placed, the looped end of the Life Line is wrapped around the tree, just above the treestand’s seat. Pull the entire rope, prussic knot and carabiner through the loop.
 

Drop the tail end of the rope to the ground while leaving the prussic knot and carabiner near the loop. Attach the prussic knot’s carabiner to your harness’s tether, tighten the locking carabiner and proceed to climb down the tree while sliding the prussic knot down as you descend.
 
Once on the ground, disconnect your tether from the prussic knot’s carabiner and tie the slack end of the Life Line rope near the base of the tree so that it is slightly taut.
 
When climbing to or from your treestand, attach your tether to the prussic knot’s carabiner, grip the prussic knot lightly and slide it along the Life Line. In the event of a fall, the prussic knot tightens around the rope, and prevents the hunter from falling to the ground.
 
A single Life Line sells for $39.95, a package of three is $99.95. Call Hunter Safety System at 877-296-3528 if you have any questions about use of the Life Line and their other treestand safety products.
 

 

1Art Lander Jr.Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.
 

To read more from Art Lander, click here.


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