By Cassie Gasaway
Most bowhunters consider weekends and vacations their prime hunting opportunities. To make the most of those precious days, try bowhunting dawn till dusk.
Mike Adams, 55, host and founder of the Up North Journal, started bowhunting at age 12. Not until five years ago, however, did he head deep into the woods and sit all day to avoid disruptions by other hunters. Adams belonged to a hunting club, and other hunters repeatedly drove by him while scouting or heading to their stands, which he found annoying and disrespectful.
“I realized if I went in farther, I wouldn’t have my hunt disrupted,” Adams said. “But I’d also have to stay all day so I didn’t disrupt anyone else’s hunt.”
Adams said secluded, all-day hunts are more enjoyable. He spends more time afield, and often sees some of the coolest things at midday when most hunters are in camp. He’s arrowed a coyote, watched bald eagles mate, and had owls land on nearby branches.
Adams sits all day when possible, but concedes it’s not for everyone. His father, for instance, thinks it’s “nuts.”
“There’s no easy way to get through all-day sits,” Adams said “It’s rewarding, but don’t be afraid to say, ‘This isn’t for me,’ and try again later. Not everyone’s hunt is the same.”
Adams advises bowhunters to start slow and ease into all-day sits. Start by extending your morning or evening sits by a few hours. Slowly build up your time afield until you can last dawn to dusk. Or try hiking all day to see if you enjoy being in the woods for over 12 hours. These experiences build tolerance, and reveal which gear, food and drinks keep you satisfied and comfortable.
Adams plans what to bring and when to indulge. He avoids running out of food or eating so much that he gets tired. He also distinguishes between what he wants and what he needs, and encourages bowhunters to pack lightly and practically.
Adams packs water, a sports drink, and a six-cup coffee thermos. He also brings high-calorie protein bars for long-lasting energy. Fruit, sandwiches, trail mix and venison jerky are good options. He avoids noisy items like chips, apples and crackers.
Be fully prepared: Bring toilet paper and climb down when nature calls. Dig a hole, do your duty, and bury it. Those measures control human scents, and ensure no one finds something gross on their way past.
Adams said all-day hunts can be long and boring, and recommends changing strategies if the wind changes or you’re not seeing deer.
“You want to be excited and confident about your spot,” Adams said. “If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse to leave. If you’re not seeing deer, don’t be afraid to move. Trust your gut.”
You can also try spotting and stalking deer, which gets you up and moving to stretch your legs. This strategy suits antsy, fidgety bowhunters. You can spot and stalk all day, or just take a break from your treestand or ground blind.
If you’re in a good spot with lots of sign but no activity, you must occupy your mind while waiting. Adams suggests reading a book, logging your hunt, texting your hunting buddies, scrolling your social media, or estimating potential shooting distances and confirming them with your rangefinder.
Adams also enjoys watching wildlife with his binoculars. He recalls a doe browsing a food plot and eating specific plants after tasting them with her tongue. When plants passed the doe’s taste test, she pulled them into the side of her mouth and casually chewed.
Whether you do slow calf-raises or watch a silent videos on your smartphone, don’t lower your guard. Keep scanning your surroundings and listening to ensure you don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
Adams drinks coffee to stay awake because he fears falling from his stand, but consider taking a power nap on the ground to recharge. Napping helps pass the time, but you might let a buck walk by unseen, especially during the rut when deer could move anytime. If you refuse to climb down, be sure your full-body harness is safely secured, but realize it’s dangerous to stay aloft when tired. When in doubt, stay safe to hunt another day.
Pack a portable phone recharger. “If you take a cell phone, you’ll inevitably pull it out and use it,” Adams said. “You have to have enough battery to check the weather or call for help.”
Once you sit all day a few times, you’ll figure out what gear you need, how to stay engaged, and when it’s time to move. All-day sits can be rewarding and productive, but they’re seldom easy. If you start daydreaming about other things you’d rather be doing, give yourself a break. Bowhunting should be exciting and enjoyable. Keep trying strategies that make you happy.