Whitetail Tips: Enter Special Draw Hunts Now!

doe
Photograph via USFWS

In many states across whitetail country, there are a variety of quota hunts for bowhunters to enter. In my home state of Minnesota, there are at least 25 lottery bowhunts that limit the number of hunters on a property. You enter a lottery, and if you draw, you’re able to take more deer (sometimes does only) than your normal tags would allow. You can find these opportunities on any state department of natural resources site, but many counties and towns offer their own lottery hunts as well.

These lotteries are open right now, but they’re closing quickly. Here’s why you should consider throwing your name in for similar types of hunts where you live.

1) Avoid the Mob
This is obvious, but a limited number of hunters means limited hunting pressure. You should be able to find good spots to hang your stand, with minimal competition. Also, with lighter hunting pressure the deer should be acting right. They'll be more likely to move during daylight hours, making it easier for you to pattern and kill an early-season buck.

2) Shoot the Right Does
Deer populations in a lot of areas are down. Part of the reason for that is a few years of aggressive doe harvest followed by severe winters. So, many of us like to shoot does for the freezer, but it's not responsible to take does off land, including public land, where the herd is hurting (see The New Rules of Whitetail Management). That's where these special hunts come in. They're designed specifically to remove more deer from the landscape, because the habitat can't support them. Some of these quota hunts allow unlimited antlerless tags. This is the best of both worlds for a bowhunter: You get to fill your freezer and also contribute to conservation efforts where they're needed most.

3) Hunt New Ground
To me, there are few things more satisfying than speed scouting a new piece of ground, hanging a stand, and killing a whitetail from it. It's a great way to sharpen those basic woodsmanship skills (spotting deer sign, understanding wind currents, reading the landscape), and when it works, you feel like a genius. And, when you're hunting a new property, there's always the chance that a Pope and Young deer will walk beneath your stand. You just never know until you hunt it.