Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Velvet Hunts
By Bob Humphrey
With the mention of deer hunting, most folks think of crisp October evenings or snowy November mornings. August hunts are usually limited to western pronghorn pursuits or sub-arctic quests for caribou. There are however a few places where you can hunt deer in late August and early September, while they’re still sporting velvet racks.
The Palmetto State’s regular deer season begins August 15 for any legal weapon, including compound bows, crossbows, shotguns, muzzleloaders and rifles. Temperatures sometimes soar into triple digits, limiting deer movement and the best hunting to the last hour, or final minutes of the day. Deer are generally smaller, but abundant, and limits are liberal.
The Sunflower State’s early muzzleloader season gives hunters a shot at some of the biggest velvet bucks anywhere. Bucks are still in bachelor groups and often on very regular feeding patterns.
Lying at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, this Quebec island has some of the highest whitetail densities in North America, including a high proportion of mature bucks. Any-weapon seasons run from late August through December, but Atlantic salmon run while the bucks are still in velvet, making for a once-in-a-lifetime cast and blast opportunity.
Southeast Alaska’s season on Sitka black-tailed deer opens in August, while bucks are still in velvet and sporting their red, summer coats. Hunting from a houseboat also provides ample opportunity for salmon and halibut fishing, and some incredible sight-seeing.
Just to the south you’ll find the other black-tail, the Columbia black-tailed deer. August seasons typically consist of spot-and-stalk archery hunts where the thrill is rivaled only by the challenge. And if you tag out early on a high-racked, fork-horned buck you can shift to pigs.
Temperatures range from warm to oppressively hot. Dress lightly and take extra measures for scent control. Biting insects are also around in droves so be sure to bring a ThermaCELL several refill packs.