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The Missouri Experiment #4

The farm that I hunted on Day 5 was one that I hunted on last year and absolutely loved. This farm is set up perfectly for both morning and evenings hunts. It has a good amount of woods and cover to promote daytime movement and bedding, and the cornfield on the south end brings them out every evening.

As you'll see in the screenshot of the property, this stand is a typical Midwest funnel. Because there are very few clumps of woods in this part of the country, when you find one of this size (although still tiny in comparison to the Big Woods), it's a deer magnet. It usually has some sort of ditch, stream, spring, or drainage running through it with lots of thick brush and scads of oak trees.

As someone accustomed to hunting public land Big Woods, I look at stands in the Midwest and lick my chops. It seems too easy. Too straightforward. And to some extent, it is. The greatest challenge in this part of the country is the chess match you play trying to get in the same area as the deer without spooking the deer. When you move to stand A, deer will almost always be at stand B. Move to B and they'll be at A, and so on and so forth. Also, the Midwest is a great example of how deer can loiter in one area for several days and then move to another area for a few days.

One advantage of having several groups of hunters in camp, each group hunting a completely separate area, is learning how deer are moving in each area. It was amazing to me that everyone experienced hot and cold spells on different days. When one group of guys was seeing a lot of deer, the other wasn't, and the next day it would switch. I see this in the Big Woods all the time. Bucks, especially, can take up residence in one corner of their range for multiple days, sometimes even weeks, before shifting to the other end of their range for another lengthy amount of time. So even though the sign is there (rubs, scrapes, etc.), the buck is somewhere else, and you're always faced with the decision of whether to stay and wait him out or try to get aggressive and find where he is right now. There's no right or wrong answer there, but I am convinced that waiting him out is the most effective tactic 90% of the time.

On guided hunts, outfitters worry about the wind first and foremost, and for good reason. It's just about the only factor they have to worry about, other than where the freshest food source is located. Guides will typically move hunters from stand to stand every morning and evening based on wind direction. I've seldom hunted the same stand twice in a row, even with stands that I really liked -- the guide wouldn't let me sit there because the wind was supposedly wrong. And I get that. But I've always wondered what would happen if I went on a guided hunt, found a stand I liked, and sat in it every morning and evening I was there. Trail camera photos show all these big bucks in the area. When hunting a stand that consistently, how long would it take for one of them to be in that area again while I was there?

In the Big Woods, I have no problem at all hunting the same stand for a whole week, and the only time I don't is when I absolutely know the wind will beat me. But that's just the nature of mountain country. The broken terrain creates swirling winds that can be awfully hard to predict. They can be wrong even when you think they're right. So you just hunt.

Anyway, when you buy an archery license in Missouri, you get two either-sex deer tags, one for a buck and one for an antlerless deer. The outfitter encourages hunters to shoot a doe in the morning if they see one. On Day 5, as I was just getting ready to get out of the stand and walk back to the truck, I spied two does feeding along the dried up creek toward me. When the smaller one stopped broadside at 40 yards, I put the cross-hairs on her chest and let it fly. She dropped only 10 yards from my stand. It's a small deer, but it sure will taste fine!

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