That’s a wrap. The sun set Saturday night, ending another Maine deer season. It was successful for some; not so much for others. Of course, success can be defined in different ways. Maybe you didn’t get your target buck, fill all your tags or fill any. Whatever the case, if things didn’t go quite as you’d hoped, there’s no better time to look back on what went wrong, and forward toward doing better next year.

You didn’t see many (or any) deer: There are so many reasons why this could have happened. Did you scout? The more time you put in before the season, the less you’ll need to spend during it. First you need to find a place that holds deer. Most patches of woods do, but some have more deer than others.

Start extensively by riding the roads around dawn and dusk and glassing fields. Then get in the woods, scout the signs and learn the lay of the land. Look for heavily used trails, concentrated natural food and features on the land that might funnel deer movement. You need to do this annually, before the season, because things change from one year to the next. Mast crops can be highly variable. A heavy acorn crop will attract deer, but they won’t need to travel as much to find food. The buck that made that rub line you hunted last year might not be around anymore, so you’ll have to find a new one.

Swing and a miss: There are many reasons people miss. Did you go to the range before the season? It’s surprising how little it takes to knock your sights off. Maybe you’re trying new ammo. It’s even more surprising how much of a difference that can make. Perhaps you “snatched” the trigger rather than squeezing it. More time at the range can help, even just plinking with a .22. It could have been buck fever, which only time and more experience around deer can cure, sometimes.

Limited time: That’s a big problem for many. Props to folks still willing to work for a living. With limited time to hunt you might try to maximize your effort by picking peaks. Twilight is the best time on any day. Saturdays are good because they’re typically days off, and there are more hunters in the woods moving deer. Mid month is probably the best for overall daytime deer movement, but later in the month offers better odds for a tracking snow.

You settled: Time can also influence selectivity. Every hunter hopes to bag a big buck, but limited time can lower your standards. A big buck could show up any time, any place, but consistency only comes with paying attention to all the details. That includes scouting, picking peak periods and passing up opportunities. If your goal was any deer or any buck and you achieved it, congratulations. As you mature as a hunter you may place additional restrictions on yourself, set loftier goals. Achieving them won’t come without sacrifice.

Be honest with yourself: Did you put in 100%? If not, maybe you got what you deserved. Luck factors in, but it won’t provide consistent success. Deer hunting is a process. Start now with a plan to put in more time and effort and maybe things will turn out better next year.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and Registered Maine Guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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