Opening Day Let Down

I firmly believe that Opening Day is similar to Christmas in my book.  Think about it, we set trail cams, check topographic maps for key hunting locations, scout our areas in the off season all with the anticipation of the next season and Opening Day.  With that anticipation is always the thought of what type of trophy I will harvest this season and all of the factors that could make this season better than the last.  So, back to Christmas…if you have an Opening Day let down, it feels like you just opened up a pair of scratchy wool socks from Great Aunt Thelma.  However, just remember that Opening Day is the first day of many during the season and one day this season you may tag the trophy of your life (or at least the year) and then… will feel like you just opened up that brand new shiny bicycle that you wanted for Christmas when you were five!!!

Soooo, I know many of you emailed us asking if Andy or I was out in the woods on Opening Day.  Opening Day was a bust for Andy and as for me? Well, like many of you, Thursday was a work day for me and I was itching to hear about what was coming out of the woods this year.  So, after work I headed down to my local sporting goods retailer and made a beeline to the pro shop for the newest gossip.  There were a ton of us milling around picking up this or that that we felt that we needed or was lacking in the woods on Opening Day.  It was either that or the Opening Day let down had many of us in need of a pick me up.  As for hunting in Loch Raven, from most accounts the morning started off slow and as the rain set in so did the deer.  Many people told me that they saw a little movement in the early morning and as the rain got heavier, the deer stopped traveling.  This was of no surprise to me and I figured that the rain would play a major factor in the day’s activity.  After all, when it is rainy and nasty out, I don’t relish mucking around in it and neither do the deer.  They tend to bed down during periods of nasty weather.

I few folks said that they saw movement but got winded right away, so here is my opinion.  It is important to play the wind anytime you are hunting, but especially when the rain is blowing in from a certain direction, thereby giving your location away.  So, pick a location in which your stand is set up downwind from a likely source of food or bedding for the best shot.  Next, don’t where your camo to places that will smell up your gear.  While I love chatting with my fellow hunters in the pro shop, I am still amazed at how many people come in the store in full camo, this nullifies and makes it pointless to wash your camo in scent free soap and keep it stored in plastic containers. Even if you are going home to wash it, you are still putting foreign scents in your camo that may or may not wash out in your scent eliminator clothing wash.  I am also surprised as to how many people go out for breakfast in full camo.  Remember bacon can smell good to us but imagine how pungent that scent would be for our furry friends.  Just some food for thought as the season begins.

While it was great to talk to fellow hunters in past couple days, I am anxious to hear about your stories…our readers are the opinions that are important to us.  So please comment below to share…Did you have an Opening Day let down or a great success?

7 Responses

  1. Gino Ciotola
    Well I didn't make it out on opening day, but I did get a few hunts in over the weekend with mixed results... Friday evening: Got in the tree about 3:30, had 2 button bucks playing under my stand (I mean, right under my stand!) within a half hour. Saw a couple does at dark...rather uneventful start to my season. Saturday morning: Saw 3 small bucks (spike, 4pt and small 8pt) about 150yds away shortly after daybreak. Never came close, but it was good to see some horns. It's worth noting that all 3 were still in full velvet. Also saw 4 does take the same general path later that morning. Left the tree at 9:00am. Saturday evening: Got in the tree about 4:00pm. Had a fawn come in around 5:30 and bed down about 20 yards from me. Had a nice mature doe come through at 6:00, passed within 10 yards of my stand and walked off. I'm not much for shooting does this early in the season, so I passed on her. The fawn was still laying there when a raccoon came stumbling through as the sun was setting. As soon as the fawn caught sight of the coon, she busted up and ran out of there as if she was just shot. Guess they get routinely attacked by coons?? Haha. It was a funny end to my evening. All in all, it was a good first weekend. Nothing too exciting, but always nice to get out in that beautiful fall weather and see some deer! Hopefully I'll be able to get out for a evening or two this week. Good luck to all!
    • admin
      GIno, Thanks for sharing your opening weekend hunts with us! It sounds like your first weekend was far better than mine. I was not able to get out over the weekend due to other obligations, but from those I have talked to Friday night and Saturday morning were the best hunts, but still mostly only heard of does or bucks at a distance. I agree with you Gino on the taking does this early in the year, I normally wait till around the early muzzleloader season to start taking does, as normally that is when it gets cold enough. I am going to try to sneak out in the woods this week, if not, then this weekend. I will let you, and everyone else know how I make out, please keep us posted on your hunts. Perhaps I will see you in the woods! Thanks, Andy
  2. Ramsay
    Glad to see a site up devoted just to bow hunting in Maryland. I'm a relatively new hunter (started last year), but like many things I like, quickly became obsessed. I've been planning for opening day it seems since the last day of the season last year. I put up 3 new stands, trail cams, and with the help of friends built a great 10 x 10 tree stand. What I was waiting for the most, though, was my new Matthews bow, which was supposed to have come in several weeks ago, but which wasn't ready until Tuesday - leaving me just 2 days to get it sighted in and to get comfortable with it. It's an incredible bow and 2 days practice was more than enough. So, with my new bow, I headed out into the woods early Thursday morning. I started off in the new wooden stand that we built. The stand is just off an incredible funnel that has shown our monster 8 pointer ("Arnie") on the trail cam several times, as well as many other shooters and does. So, I figured it was the place to start. Like others have reported, the wind and rain really kept them bedded down and there was little movement. At around 8:00 am the wind died down and there was some movement. A doe and her fawn came within distance and that was a nice show to start the season. I went back out around 3:30 p.m. This time I headed into the ladder stand that we set up just off of a field behind my house in the Sparks/Hunt Valley area. I did NOT dress accordingly. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees from the morning, the winds were whipping at about 15 mph, with 20 mph gusts, and it was raining pretty hard. From about 5:30 - 6:30, I was literally huddled in a ball in my stand trying to keep my hands from shaking in the event I got a shot. At just around 6:30 pm, as I was shivering like a leaf, a doe and her two fawns came walking along the field, right in the travel lane (about 30 yards from the stand) that the stand is set up for. It was nice to see that they had no idea I was there and the stand is in the PERFECT location on the field - upwind, with a branch to provide some cover - 25-40 yards from the travel/feeding area. I watched the family walk across the field to about 75 yards out. Then the Doe suddenly looked back across the field - a sure sign a new deer had just entered the field. It was a nice big bodied Doe. I'd seen her on the cam a few times. 200+ lbs. She was to my left and had just entered the field. She was behind the branch that provides such good cover for the stand making her way, painstakingly slowly from left to right across the field. Eating some of the field greens along the way. I waiting, huddled in a ball with my hands near my heart to warm them enough to get a steady shot when she finally did clear. She was about 30 yards out. I drew a little early, while she was still behind the branch, to ensure that she didn't see me draw. She did not see the draw. I had to hold at full draw for more than a minute though before she finally cleared the branch and provided a shot. The cold hands made for a slightly right and slightly low shot - but good enough! That Matthews Z7 Extreme is something else. I found her about 100 yards from the shot. With a little help from my friend Alex we got up her up the hill, on the ATV and to the butcher just in time. Can't wait for some early season venison steaks, sausage and jerky. Hope to be out there again this weekend. And hope to see Arnie soon! I'll keep you posted.
    • admin
      Ramsay, Thanks for sharing your opening day experience. The rain and wind in the afternoon sure did effect everyone. Glad to hear you were able to take a nice doe for some good eats. It's nice to hear from another hunter the Hunt Valley / Sparks area. We would love to see a picture of "Arnie" if you would be willing to share, send them to us at Glad to hear you like your new Z7, that is very high on our list of top bows for this year! Keep us posted on your hunting adventures and good luck!
  3. Gino Ciotola
    I was able to get out for a couple hours last evening, just saw a few does, but that's not the reason I wanted to make a post on here... At about 5:30 a couple deer came tearing down the hill and stopped about 50 yds from my stand, it was a doe and a young fawn. After I put the binoculars on them, I noticed that the doe had been shot. They took off again and ran about 50 yards and stopped out in front of my stand for a few seconds. Unfortunately, the doe had been shot through the neck and the arrow passed through just above her right leg. It was painfully obvious that this deer was shot when she was facing the hunter. In the few seconds she stood in front of me, I was able to see that she would be OK, really just a flesh wound, and there was no reason for me to take her out. Her and the fawn then ran off as the two guys that must have shot her came crashing over the hill. I just wanted to state that as hunters, it's our right to the animals to hunt ethically. I have seen this situation one too many times while hunting, especially here in the public grounds of MD. Everyone needs to get out and practice with their bow, take good, clean shots and hunt safely and ethically. By no means am I suggesting that I'm perfect with every shot I make, but I can guarantee you that I'm not shooting at a deer (whether it's a doe or a giant buck) unless I think I have a good clean shot at the vitals. As bow hunters, things happen. Your arrow may hit a sapling, you may misjudge distance, etc. It's not an exact science. But in the case it was clearly negligence by the hunter to shoot a deer that was facing him or her. Why?? I'm sorry to ramble about this, but it really irks me. I think everyone that reads this forum should take a second and make sure you are hunting ethically. It's your right as a hunter. Good luck and safe hunting to all!
    • admin
      Gino, Thank you for sharing your hunting experience from last evening. I am truly sorry to hear such a story, this same thing has been my major complaint for Loch Raven since it was opened to hunting. I have seen this more times in the last 3 season than I care to admit. The first season it was open, I found 4 dead bucks with arrows in them while out shed hunting that spring, all appeared to be poor shots, who knows how long it took the deer to die. The other thing I have seen several times is deer with arrows hanging out of them, similar to what you described or in the rear-end walking along still alive and no doubt in some pain. I have always asked why? I am by no means an expert shot, and things can always happen when taking a shot, so I agree there is room for error when bow hunting. However, we all need to think a little harder about what shots to take, and the ones you have to pass up rather than wound an animal for no reason. Gino, again thank you for the comment, it prompted us to write an article on the very subject of ethical shots, I hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks again and good luck this week!
  4. John
    Thanks Gino of reminding us of the ethical part of the game. I will be in the wood this week end. I hope to be on my stand and wait. I will tell you how it goes. John
  5. [...] comment today about an event that he witnessed last night (Check out the entire original comment at Opening Day Let Down Comments).  While sitting in his tree, he witnessed a doe and a fawn run and stop underneath of him.  Upon [...]

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