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Crossbow hunting in PA

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  • Crossbow hunting in PA

    Hello all,

    Archery season in PA starts October 5th and I have a few questions about Crossbow hunting. I have a cabin deep in the woods of North Central PA and have been hunting there since I was 12 years old. Started Crossbow hunting 3 years ago, so this year will be my 4th year, have been unsuccessful with my crossbow thus far. I hunting either using my tree stand or my ground blind depending on weather. Both are placed in proven spots with plenty of deer about. My first question is: When is the most successful days in PA archery season to get a buck? I have heard that towards the end of the season is best, about the 1st or 2nd week of November. When are grunt calls, rattles and other game calls effective the most? Is it worth it to hunt on the ground without a blind with a crossbow? How do you keep your scent to a minimum? Thanks and any help will do.

  • #2
    " proven spot" and "unsuccessful for 4 yrs"

    IMHO too many people waste time hunting stands that just aren't right (wind, time of year or other).

    Early bow I'd hunt the acorns. 1st week.
    After that I wait until Halloween to go back out.
    Pre rut is then (Indiana) and bucks will be moving.

    Hunted all of 45 mins last yr and called in an 8 pointer.
    New stand location, thick stuff, travel route.

    Used both grunt and doe bleat. Snuck in, got in stand pretty quiet, waited 15 mins and medium grunted twice. Waited 15 mins and did again (blind call, see if anybody in thicket). Waited 15 and then did two doe bleats (Primos can call) and BAM! He was there at 15 yards.

    Going in day after day after day just educates the deer.

    Even if you are religious about scent control and get in quiet.

    You're proly hunting big woods and that may be different.

    Sure some people log a lot of hours in stand to kill a deer. But I don't think they earn it by being in stand X amount of hours.

    You just gotta be there when the deer decides to come by, or call him to you.
    There are a lot of variables in that. Hours in the seat is NOT part of the equation.

    Rattling used to work on my old spot, about 200 acres, other good ground nearby. But people started rattling first day of bow (Oct 1) and the deer went deaf.

    Used rattling with success right before gun season. Couple of years w good success. However, in my limited experience, the bucks came in, and liked to lock up about 50 yards downwind.
    Best deal is to be a two man team, a guy 50 yards downwind of the person rattling.

    I've grunted and bleat called in bucks. KIlled some too. It gets results. Enough that in prerut I use both. Have used it some in rut............but IMHO when a buck has a real doe with him, he aint gonna pay attention to any other ones (especially ones he can't see).

    Decoy may help in bow.If a buck hears another, buck or doe and expects to see who is making the noise, and sees nothing.........if he's been fooled before, he aint gonna get fooled again.
    They'll cut the wind, circle round in cover.........about 75 yards out.

    Having said all that...........decoys and rattling antlers...........are a PITA to lug around. I do carry a grunt call and bleat can all the time. But I use them sparingly. Timing is critical.

    I think it might be beneficial to learn how to "snort wheeze".
    Last edited by CD2; 08-31-2019, 01:27 PM.


    • #3
      Well, that just saved me a lot of writing time CD2, can’t add or detract much from that ! Lioneljeff33, just follow CD2’s words and you should be in business. !!


      • #4
        I have never called in a big buck during gun.
        Younger ones yes.

        Have called in a few big ones in bow right before gun season.
        Smaller ones........bunches.

        Have used estrus and other scents with some success.
        HS Buck Lure Supreme..........pulled 100" deer in on a string.

        No longer made.

        Gave up using scents over a decade ago.

        Hunt acorns or thick cover/travel routes. Grunt call and doe bleat always with me.

        I hunt patchwork ground now, our spot less than 20 acres of woods. Houses around. Other woods in adjacent fields (just chunks, not continuous woods).

        We park right by the the road has a lot of traffic.
        But we don't shine the woods w the truck lights pulling in. Turn those off before leaving road.
        Don't clunk doors and stuff either.

        Since deer travel some distance, when crops down, we park on the low side.

        Problem is........when its wet we park high by the road. And that's proly fine w a dark vehicle.
        Deer already halfway from other woods when they see the truck. They are committed.
        That's my buds truck.

        Mine is white.

        If it's wet, I gotta park at the barn on other side of woods............normal spot would have deer see the vehicle at long distance.

        Dunno if that matters or not.

        I try to let them do their thing, like they did the days before. Not know I'm there.
        Sneak in, sneak out. That includes vehicle.

        Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't.
        Don't think deer that smart.
        IMHO they don't reason danger, just avoid stuff that wasn't there before.


        • #5
          I know how to kill small bucks LOL.
          Maybe have it all wrong on killing big ones.
          Not killed all that many.
          Three 9 pointers, three 10's and over a dozen 8's.
          We wont discuss the less than 8's other than to say they tasted great LOL
          Have let a bunch walk too.

          Am no expert by any means.
          Have spent a lot of hrs learning what "not to do".
          Wish I was a better student, as it took a while LOL.

          For whatever reason, even when hunting with friends on their ground........I always see more deer and usually kill when they don't. I just seem to have more deer around me.

          I practice scent control way more than my buds.


          • #6
            I think deer hunting to be rather easy.
            It also rather easy to screw up.

            TV shows, the web,'s easy to get wound up and hunt too much too soon.

            Gotta know when and where. Even on bigger ground,

            And that can vary per spot.
            Unfortunately you gotta pay your dues to learn that.

            There can be exceptions, and you don't kill em sitting on the couch..........but to up my chance of success I wait until prerut.

            Have seen nice bucks at times and places they should not be. Usually find out somebody hunting next door bumped em to our places.

            And that brings up a good point. You can do everything right and not even see deer.
            Can do everything wrong and something spook them from afar and dump them in your lap.

            I'm old and sore and cranky. Treestand hunting hurts me. I have about 5 days of bowhunting in me. Gotta save them for best time. Not just physical, but also mental.
            I want to be sharp in bow and not burned out by gun season.

            Work an odd shift, have to wears on me. Just refuse to be silly with what limited energy/time I have.

            Some folks hunt every weekend, hunt before or after work..........get 20 -30 days in a season.
            They kill deer too. Goody for them.

            While I enjoy the outdoor experience, even when I don't kill a deer, my focus is to kill a deer and I just can't get into "camping out in a treestand" just to be "there".

            Have to have a purpose, a plan......a focus.

            Hunt smart, not harder.


            • #7
              I have hunted in a similar area in PA for many years using a compound bow.(Clinton County) In that time, I had a stretch of more than twenty years straight of shooting a nice PA buck until I had a shoulder injury. First , scouting the area is important to see where the deer are traveling. I never used one, but a game camera could be useful. The best success for the bigger bucks usually occurs the last week of archery in Pa because it is in the rut season for these deer. The most important factor though is you. Successful hunters remain alert and relatively motionless for many hours at a time. This is hard to do. Follow the many tips that others have given you.


              • #8
                Thanks for all the replies!! My hunting spot, where my tree stand is located has plenty of acorns and I know the deer frequent that area. There are two creeks about 3 or 4 feet wide in the vicinity, pine trees below the hillside, it is about a mile from the dirt road, wooded area, has plenty of shooting lanes. Yes, I believe that in November is quite good when archery hunting, I will plan to be at my cabin First weekend of November and Veterans Day weekend. I will see what I will see in the woods. I read somewhere that in north Central PA the deer are less in numbers, but there are more mature bucks. I am comfortable with my crossbow at about 40 Yards, I have practiced for 50 yards, but when in real situation feel best at 40 yards or less. You think this scent control stuff is just a joke to get people to buy more gear? I mean, years ago, we were never that crazy about scent control. Guess deer have evolved or something and have better noses. You think if I am hunting my tree stand in October, best thing to do is to get to tree stand and stay in it and remain quiet all day, no rattling. Maybe a bleat can at times. But, in November deer are in Rut and I can be more aggressive. Thanks!!


                • #9
                  I don't smoke. My truck is prepped the night before (no gas or oil to be spilled on skin/clothes).
                  My clothes are regular hunting stuff, washed in scent and UV brightener free detergent.
                  Before I wash and dry my hunting clothes I run a regular load through washer/dryer with the same detergent. This load should clean out the appliances, for the hunting stuff that follows next load.

                  Clothes are stored in plastic tote w lid.
                  Worn only when hunting.
                  Will toss a green walnut or two in the tub.

                  I don't even allow coffee to be drank in my truck.
                  Nothing stinky allowed, period.

                  Shower in the morning, w unscented soap. Use a towel that has been washed scent free too.

                  Maybe I go to far. I dunno.
                  I always see deer.


                  • #10
                    I'm super cranky and have a bit of OCD.
                    Hunting is my 2 weeks to live out of the year.
                    I really really take it seriously.
                    Just don't have the time or place to half arse it.

                    Some people can.

                    Lemme relay a's a good un.

                    Shot me a little 8 pointer w my recurve and took to deer processor.
                    Saw what looked like a nice muley head on the floor, nope...........whitetail.
                    Holy smokes!!!!!!!!

                    Guy says "yeah, kid got one like that the yr before too".


                    A week later I go to pick up my meat and the "kid" also shows up.
                    He's no kid, just a young man.

                    My bud and I ask him about his awesome deer.
                    Super nice guy he explains what happened.

                    Guess he was talking to landowner and laid his bow against the truck.
                    Forgot and when landowner drove off, ran over bow.
                    Borrowed a bow.
                    Too short, diff arrows..........think he shot it bare fingered.
                    Was NOT the bow to be using, but he said he could put a few in the target at 10 yards.

                    So he goes and sits on a bucket along the fence and shoots this deer.
                    Same way he shot the one the yr before. Heck IIRC he was wearing blue jeans.

                    Guess they watch them from the kitchen window in the field and when wind right, just sit back and pop em. Over 1000 acres of ground, he the only bowhunter.
                    Married into landowner's fam.

                    That guy has all the luck.

                    Or does he?

                    I wonder if his wife is ugly and or can't cook.




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