I arrived at my campsite for my public land hunt. I Set up camp and unloaded the truck so I could get the jon boat loaded in the back. Only a couple other campers in the campground and very peaceful. I am alone on this trip except my buddy Smokey a not so normal Yorkshire Terrier. He loves being in the woods as much as I do and gets just as excited as I when we arrive. Click here to see if the hunt was a success.
A jon boat is the secret weapon for many successful public land bowhunters. I use a jon boat for accessing some of the more remote areas of public land but the jon boat is also great for accessing stands silently and scent free. Sometimes whitetail deer are actually around easily accessed areas but by using the jon boat you can access the back side of the area and keep from alerting deer of your presence. A jon boat also allows you to hunt pressured deer by delivering you and your bow hunting equipment away from where other deer hunters access the area. By hunting these areas and accessing them by jon boat you can take advantage of other hunters pushing the deer to you.
Using a jon boat is a great way to access areas that get little or no pressure throughout the season and I have actually located areas that seem to have whitetail deer that were not pressured at all. These deer will move through the area throughout the day. These areas are golden to the public land bowhunter and can offer many days of good hunting as long as good scent control is adhered to and that treestand is hunted only when the wind is right.
Using a jon boat can really open up more opportunities for your hunt. Sometimes, especially when the weather is warm and you know that the deer have bedded for the day, you can take a run and rattle approach to your hunt. The run and rattle technique is not only a great way to bag a good buck but it is also a great way to locate other treestand sites as you are essentially scouting while you hunt.
You want to search new areas by just beaching your jon boat in several different areas and quietly enter the woods edge. Once in position you should use either natural cover to conceal your movements or carry your own blind setup. You can use bungee cords and/or rope to hold leafy material stretched between two trees. There might be times when you might want to use your treestand. This will slow down your midday run and rattle plan but if you enter the wood line and see scrapes and rubs all around then you might want to spend a little more time in this location and a treestand is your best bet for harvesting a whitetail with a bow. You could also mark the spot as a place to hang a stand and return for a more traditional stand hunt.
Once you are setup just inside the wood line you can now start your rattle sequence. A good rattle sequence to start with is a very light sparring sequence of about 5 seconds a buck could be bedded very close and so don't overdo that first sequence. Being too aggressive initially could send that bedded buck into the next county. Of course aggressive rattling initially could bring him to you on a string but why take a chance when a light sparring sequence could bring him to and is less likely to spook him.
The advantage of the run and rattle technique is covering ground. With the jon boat you can hunt several areas during that midday lull. With this in mind your rattling sequence should be short so the time between that initial sparring sequence and a more aggressive rattle sequence might only be 5 minutes. If the sparring sequence didn't produce any action then get aggressive and get ready as an aggressive buck can be on top of you quick and will be hunting you so you have to be careful with your movements especially if you are on the ground. I try to always use a large tree to hide behind if one is available. My rattling session in a particular spot will usually only last 15 to 20 minutes unless the area has a lot of sign then I might sit longer. This type of hunting is to locate those aggressive bucks that might present you with a shot while you wait for prime time to hunt your stand locations. If you spend too much time in one spot you defeat the purpose of hunting several spots so keep moving. This technique is not an easy one but can be exciting as buck sightings are common but getting a shot is another story but your chances for arrowing a buck with the run a rattle technique far outweighs your chances while napping back at camp.
Using a jon boat for public land bowhunting is a great way to hunt less pressured areas but the jon boat can also work great on private land where navigable waterways are available. There are many opportunities out there for the jon boat deer hunter and once you experience the effectiveness of hunting by jon boat you too will seek out areas that allow for its use. Whether setting up stand locations away from the crowds or running and rattling for those hidden whitetail bucks in your area the jon boat is your answer and can add another dimension to your deer hunting strategy this season. Remember to pack a sandwich and good hunting.
If you have any questions about using a jon boat for hunting public land whitetails feel free to leave a comment below. There is a lot to learn about bowhunting with a jon boat so if you really want to get started in this great way to bowhunt get in touch and let's talk. Good hunting.