We are 3 weeks away from archery deer season in Idaho and with the closure of a few units in the immediate area; deer are becoming scarce as more hunters crowd units that have never seen this kind of pressure in the past. Here are a few tips to up your odds for the season.
Concentrate on areas that other hunters pass up. This is a sure way to find bucks that hole up and seem to disappear into thin air. By looking in crevices, gullies and stands of thick brush and trees near the center and edges of fields you can be almost certain deer will be holding up.
You really need to work these areas with a partner. One hunter standing at one end and the other working through the dense habitat should be able to cover these areas thoroughly.
When deer disappear completely hunt the junipers. Chances are that most areas you hunt have a hillside filled with junipers. And chances are this is where the deer have moved. This year we have been covering tons of prime habitat and we have seen plenty of big bucks during the early season. But, as guns started firing during bird season deer slowly disappeared out of traditional areas. They never were truly gone; I mean where are they really going to go with the kind of pressure this year has brought to the hills. They simply moved into thicker cover, case in point the juniper forest.
If you have never hunted the junipers you are in for a real treat. If you like the thrill of a cat and mouse challenge set in a maze of brush this hunt is for you. I have literally walked up on bucks and scared the dickens out of the deer and myself at such close quarters. This is in your face hunting at its best and extreme shooting as most shots taken are well within 50 yards is the norm.
Hunting with a partner ups your odds as you can work the deer between both of you. When hunting the junipers we play leapfrog. This means hunter (A) works up the draw as hunter (B) stays back watching the hillsides. After ten minutes, hunter (B) works up to hunter (A) and passes him by continuing on for ten minutes. This leapfrog technique is continued until you have worked the draw out thoroughly. We have put more meat in the freezer using this technique in the junipers than any other.
The big game animals are out there. With hunters covering the mountain sides and also concentrating in huge numbers due to the draw only units in force you need to out smart not only the animals you pursue but the hunters that pursue them.