Luck of the Draw

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

I was recently scrolling through the page of a Facebook hunting group that I follow when a picture of a nice archery buck caught my eye. But, what caught my attention even more was one of the comments on the picture, "What a nice buck! I just don't have the luck some people do on large rack bucks.

I see a lot of deer and bucks but my luck is crap when it comes to seeing decent bucks." While the comment was not negative in any way, which is refreshing in social media today, it made me think, just how much luck is involved when it comes to harvesting "nice" bucks, especially on public land?

So, I took to the world of Instagram and asked our followers what was more important when it comes to harvesting nice bucks: luck or skill? The results were surprisingly what I expected, and to be exact, as follows: 26% luck, 74% skill. Upon reading this, I chuckled a bit to myself thinking, "Ya know, in a not so scientific way, this is probably an accurate split when it comes to high level success on public land."

No matter who you are, what state you hunt, or your weapon of choice, there is absolutely no denying that luck plays at least some part in all of our successful hunts. Luck can come in many forms; sometimes, without reason, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time when that nice buck steps out, and other times, you did everything you could to find a nice buck and he happens to step out while you're on stand.

If there was no luck involved, only those who spend countless hours scouting, researching new spots, and learning new techniques while using the latest camouflage patterns and gadgets would be successful each fall.

But, the fact of the matter is, we constantly hear stories of hunters who hunted one day with no previous time in the woods, killing the local buck that everyone is after. While each hunter relies on this luck to a degree, which hunter would you want to be during your next time on stand?

The one who is relying on luck alone, or the one who does everything he can to have the most luck possible?

There's an old saying that has several variations but goes something like this: "Lucky people often put themselves in situations to have good luck." They may not be any luckier than you, but they always seek opportunities where good luck is bound to happen more frequently.

Simply put, are you more likely to win the lottery if you buy a ticket or find the winning ticket lying on the ground? So, how can you become a "lucky" hunter? The first step is reflecting on your current hunting situation and past success and asking yourself, "What am I doing wrong and what can I do better?"

If you're not seeing big rack bucks while on stand, are you at least seeing them on trail camera, while scouting, or while spotlighting? If no, then perhaps it's time to find some new public land that has more potential than your current spot. If you know that quality bucks are there but you're not seeing them while on stand, then it's time to re-evaluate your methods.

Examine your stand locations, entry/exit routes, common wind directions, and even relative hunting pressure to see if you can hunt your spots better and more efficiently. I also suggest researching articles from some of the best public land bow-hunters out there such as Dan Infalt and John Eberhart to learn how they have reached such a high level of success on highly pressured deer.

Chances are, even those guys would tell you that they don't know it all, and they have each built themselves rather impressive hunting resumes on public land. Another idea is to reach out to someone you know or who seems to enjoy a high level of bow-hunting success and see if he will help to tweak your hunting methods to help fill that archery tag.

In the end, you have to ask yourself if you want to be the hunter who lets luck come to him or the hunter who chases luck where he can. This fall, be the hunter who took all the necessary steps to be the "lucky one" and tags the buck everyone dreams about.

Odds are, there is something you can change from what you're currently doing that will help you to find success during your next hunt. Two years ago, I tagged out on a respectable 120" opening day PA archery buck, and many people told me, "Wow! You're so lucky!" I would always give my thanks back to them but think, "Gee, if luck means hours of scouting, miles of walking, and weeks of planning, then yeah I guess I did have a lot of luck!"

For me, the luck was tagging out opening day; the skill was everything else before that: roughly a 24/76% split.

Photo Credit: Justin Rinas, aka The Stag Stalker, view his content and be sure to give him a follow!!

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