January Archery Hunts

Joe Schuster | January 1, 2023

As we turn the page to a new year, there are still some deer hunters trying to fill their freezers or maybe even still hunting a big buck they’ve seen during the season. Georgia has an extended archery season in 21 counties that allow bowhunters to hunt until Jan. 31. Here are a few late-season tips for those ready and willing.

If you’re going to get some hang time in a ladder, lock on or climber, you’ll probably need to be really still and quiet as the tree leaves that covered you in the fall are gone. I’ve seen more deer deep in the woods in January, but they also have picked me off.

Although we’ve had some warm weather and rain last month, prepare for colder weather. A couple of hand warmers in your pockets can make a big difference. You probably want to change out that mesh ball hat for a thicker skull cap that can keep the warmth in and cover your ears. 

Of course, make sure that you’re using a safety harness every single time that you’re hunting from a tree. I spent some time recently catching up with a hunter in a neck brace. He broke his ribs and back in a few places when he fell asleep and rolled out of his lock on. He told me that he woke up when he hit the ground and that he’s lucky to be walking. So with safety covered, let’s move on to what’s next after you take the shot. Focus on the placement. Where did your arrow hit?

I really like to hunt with a nock that lights up on release. It helps me visualize if I had a pass-though shot and/or if the hit was in a vital area.

A deer that gives a “mule kick” after the shot more times than not indicates a solid vital hit. A deer that hunches up after the hit was probably gut shot. It inevitably will die but tough to track.

If you find the arrow after the shot, give it a good look. Covered with bright, red bubbly blood indicates a good lung shot. Even with this fatal shot, consider waiting at least an hour before tracking. Dark red blood will probably be a liver hit. A slick, greasy arrow could mean it hit meat and not organ and was probably not fatal. If your arrow has chunks of acorn or stomach matter, it’s gut shot. It will be tough to track, and it’s good to wait at least eight to 12 hours. It really tough to track a deer if it’s still alive and you jump it while trailing it. 

How long should you spend blood trailing? When do you give up? Well, you should look as long as it takes regardless of a buck or a doe. I’ve spent a lot of time on my hands and knees with a flashlight trying to find at least a speck of blood to indicate direction. My daughter in law had a good hit on a deer in November that slowed to just a few blood specks. We ended up seeing its eyes, and it was bedded down. We backed out and came back a few hours later and it was dead exactly where we backed out. So don’t give up too quickly. You owe it to the animal you shot. Good luck and stay safe!

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