How long is too long for a hunting season? How short is too short? What is the perfect length for a season?
These are questions that hunters have pondered for generations, but which still seem to go unanswered to this day.
We’ve all heard the “too short” complaints: most rifle hunters, for instance, take great pains to hunt every day of gun season, regardless of what other obligations are littering their schedules or on when the season falls. With only a few days to hunt deer in most places, gun hunters don’t have much room to be selective with their hunting times.
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And if they miss a day or two, whether because of illness or family/holiday obligations, a rifle toting deer hunter views those missed opportunities as a huge loss. Indeed, it’s not difficult to see why so many hunters pronounce rifle season “too short.”
But what about complaints about hunting season going on for too long? A lot of us can’t even imagine making that claim, especially if we live in Illinois or Ohio or any of the small handful of states where gun season lasts fewer than 10 days. Is there such a thing as too much time to hunt? If you live in the Midwest, the answer to that question is almost certainly and unequivocally “no.”
But what about archery seasons, which last for months at a time? What about states in the Southeast, states like Georgia and Alabama, where gun season – not archery season, but gun season – lasts for over 10 times as long as it does in most Midwestern states. Do the hunters in those states know what it is like to experience the seemingly mythical overlong hunting season?
On one hand, 100 days of hunting gives a lot more flexibility as to when a hunter can hit the woods and search for bucks. Gun hunters in those states don’t need to spurn every other person and obligation in their life once hunting season rolls around. Instead, they get to pick their spots and enjoy the season in a more leisurely fashion. These are arguments that make it seem as if a hunting season can really never be too long.
On the other hand, there is such a thing as hunting fatigue, especially if the bucks aren’t rearing their antlered heads. The most important thing about any deer-hunting season is that it coincides nicely with the rut. Additional pre- or post-rut hunting can be a nice option to have, but it isn’t essential.
Therefore, extremely long hunting seasons can spread a finite amount of deer movement and action over too many days, leading to a lot of boredom and wasted time.
Additionally, since it’s natural for hunters to want to use their deer tags when they can, areas with longer hunting seasons can see a saturation of pressure on certain areas that simply scares the deer away. And near limitless hunting opportunities can also lead to the over harvest of a deer population, which in turn results in fewer bucks. Indeed, the Midwest is often – though not always – the place to be if you are shooting for big bucks.