Rookie Deer Hunting in Newyago County

Rookie Deer Hunting in Newyago County

By: Nick Smith

As a new Newaygo County Resident, I was very excited to find a place to hunt this deer season.  Over the past year, I have heard many successful hunting stories from people I have met, and seen some nice size deer while traveling from place to place.  Luckily, a coworker of mine offered to let me hunt his property in Fremont that abuts the Manistee National Forest.  One of the great things about hunting in Newaygo County is the abundance of public land that is open to hunters.

My first time out scouting, we toured the area and I made special note of where public land met his property, as I knew this would be the best area to hunt as it essentially gave me unlimited hunting area.  I have to say that moving from downstate, the amount of deer activity and different habitat gave me a positive vibe.  Not only is there a huge area of public land but the field across the road still had corn up.  After scouting the area and making close note of where the deer were moving into and out of the property, I found my spot.

My first time out I saw three deer, one in the woods and two came out into a field.  The first one was too far away for my crossbow.  Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw two large does appear from the north and they proceeded into the field behind me.  I slowly got up and moved 30 yards toward the field, one small step at a time keeping the large oak trees between us.  About 60 yards out with 10-20 more needed to go, the worst thing that could happen did.  I accidentally stepped on a twig just yards from a usable shooting position.  There was no mistake that something was up and the deer were gone!

While at first very disappointing, I was very encouraged as I have never had so much luck seeing deer anywhere on the very first day of hunting a new area.  I decided to let the area cool off for a few days until I received a picture message from my coworker the next week.  I opened it and saw three deer in the same field.  There was a larger doe and two that were average size.  I quickly texted back “I’ll be there after work”.

After arriving, I quickly geared up and found a spot on the ground in front of a very large oak about 8 feet in from the edge of field, with a decent amount of brush in front.  I saw that there were two possible natural shooting lanes, so I sat down and started to assess the range with my new range finder.  Through a lot of practice, I know that anything that came within 50 yards could be easily taken with my crossbow.  Then after waiting until just before 7:00 pm, a decent size doe appeared on the other side of the field.  With the end of daylight approaching, I kept an eye on the time knowing I only had about 20 minutes left of hunting.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, she started walking in my direction.  She was 60 yards out, and still moving at a decent pace.  She stopped at 50 yards obstructed by a sapling and stared at me, I thought I was busted.  After about 30 seconds, she started coming towards me again.  Now 45 yards out still obstructed by brush and time was running out fast.  Finally, after one last stare down she turned slightly quartering away, walked right into my lane, and stopped.  I picked up my crossbow and her head went up.  I paused, she started to eat again, and I let the arrow go.

I was ecstatic. I finally took a shot and it hit perfectly.  I heard a loud thud and was able to see my arrow hit the deer by watching the red illuminated knock fly and land right where I wanted it.  The deer sprinted out of the field and I heard it crash in the brush 15 seconds later.  After waiting a half hour, I was on the trail.  20 yards from initial impact, the blood trail looked very promising.  20 more yards into the brush, and I could see a red glow of my arrow up ahead still in my deer.

After a few short evenings out, I was already a successful Newaygo County hunter by mid-October.  I have never had such good luck getting my first deer so soon especially in a new area.  The diversity of habitat in Newaygo County significantly increased my chances to be a successful hunter.  From almost unlimited hiding spaces for the deer on public land to the farm fields filled with their favorite food, it is clear Newaygo County is a great place to hunt.  I cannot wait to get out there again and start scouting for some of the big Newaygo County bucks I have heard so much about.

 

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