The urban deer highway I've been hunting this fall is one I identified while bowhunting on a sandy blufff on the opposite edge of the swamp last October. The only "luck" involved is that I'm "lucky" to have access to both sides, privately owned and completely posted. I keep getting closer.
During my first hunt this season, I hunted at a pinch point in the swamp but downhill of the deer highway. Not surprisingly, no deer crossed the pinch point during my hunt, but dozens crossed above me on the slope.
During my second hunt, I hunted upslope of the highway, but 100+ yards from the pinch point, which gave me an excellent view of a 6-8 point buck crossing the pinch point, right past the first hide I'd used - within 2 yards of it, in fact. So I moved to the pinch point, at which time the 6-8 point buck started feeding under a white oak 4 yards from the hide I'd been sitting at. I waited for a clear shot at about 20 yards from my awkward stump hide, and at the exact moment I had that shot lined up, a spike buck walked in front of the larger deer, while the larger one sauntered off, away from me.
During my third hunt, I returned to the same hide above the deer highway, committed to stay there, which I did. The winds blew in a favorable direction, but at 25+ mph, which I believe kept the deer bedded down. Around 830am, two does crossed the swamp's pinch point and angled toward me, a small ridge hiding them in the shadows in front of me, less than 60 yards away. One doe disappeared, while the other came toward me in the shadow of another tree, just 8 yards from my position. She arrived at the base of the tree, turned, and in one motion, walked back in the shadow of that tree, away from me. I saw her entire brown flank for less than a second, well within killing distance.
This is an interesting juncture for me. As someone who prefers the more social aspects of bird hunting to the solitary focus of deer hunting, my patience for chasing these city deer is beginning to run thin. Plus, duck season is now in - and goose season will follow in another two weeks. Statistics are that even in these deer-thick areas, bowhunters are successful less than 25% of the time. I'm running right up against that statistic, and like many hunters in the same pattern, I feel as if I am a champion deer watcher.
I have abandoned my very able Fred Bear compound bow for my crossbow - the crossbow does not miss at 20 yards. Ever. I am ready to kill a deer, perhaps kill another soon after it, and say good riddance to these animals for another 11 months. Most dedicated bowhunters have now taken an animal, as the rut started four days ago. Will I make my fourth trip count?
We'll know within days.