December 30th, 2016: I absolutely LOVE late-season hunting in Michigan. Depending on your property, it can be better than the rut. Hunting pressure decreases greatly after gun season and deer start to key in heavily on food with the arrival of winter. My best property (that was a bust during the rut) started blowing up with large groups of deer and several nice bucks. I had this particular buck on camera almost every night starting Nov. 21st, but like many pressured bucks in Michigan he never showed his face during the daylight. My wife and I kept at it, trying to get her that first Michigan buck with a bow (to her credit, she had several opportunities at smaller bucks throughout the season but she elected to pass and wait for something a little bigger).
On December 30th I climbed into my popup blind around lunch time and was planning on shooting a doe to end the season and put one more deer in the freezer. The afternoon was slow, very slow. I finally saw my first deer at 5:00 PM and to my surprise it was a nice buck. He was angling to me when he crossed my wind and stopped. I thought “Well, that’s it. He’s gone.” Instead of bolting to the next county, he just stood there motionless for about 10 minutes. While watching him, 2 does came out of nowhere and started feeding on the corn I put out. The does had no idea I was there and when this buck saw them, and saw they were comfortable, he walked right in. A 25 yard shot with my crossbow capped off a long but incredible 2016 season!
To all my avid bow hunters out there who “hate” crossbows I really encourage you to give them a try. For me, it will never replace my compound bow. That is still my #1 weapon. However, when I’m hunting long hours in super cold temperatures, a crossbow makes me a better hunter. Simple as that. It allows me to wear the proper clothing for a long, cold night in the woods without worrying about my clothing interfering with my shot or a cold, squeaky bow cam spooking deer. Try it, I think you’ll agree!