Tour De Common Ground
What does biking have to do with hunting? You might be wondering this. And, if you are, chances are at this point in time the answer for you is “Not much”. Friends of mine have been using bicycles to their advantage for over a decade now. Since I haven’t had the same need in years passed, (or at least perceived that I didn’t), I avoided this method of transportation. The basic reason was that where I hunt, the access is such that there are no trails suitable for biking. There are, however, county roads; but for every season leading up to this one, we simply walked or drove along the roadways. This summer I dug out an old mountain bike from my shed and gave it a new coat of paint, checked the brakes, and got it ready to use for hunting season. You may be wondering why I would need, or want, to use a bicycle for any kind of transportation, given how I just described the area we typically hunt. As I see it, there are plenty of benefits to having this tool in your arsenal, so it is just one more trade secret I can apply as needed. The weight of each benefit shifts and changes based on the terrain, area, and your style of hunting. But overall, most (if not all), serious hunters can reap the rewards of utilizing a bicycle for stand access.
- Save Time- Riding a bike saves valuable time when accessing stand locations. You aren’t going to be riding you bike right to your stand tree, so you are still going to have some foot travel, but you can keep a good pace down a reclaimed railroad bed on a bike, often with less physical effort than walking. A half hour or hour walk to get back into a remote piece of public can be shortened to ten or fifteen minutes by bike. Those extra minutes during a morning hunt could mean the difference between beating a buck back to his bed, or not. It also can mean a few extra minutes of shut-eye which can become valuable toward the end of a long season.
- Less Sweat- You might as well capitalize on mechanical advantage. Riding a bike, if on relatively level ground, is less likely to cause you to sweat as much as walking the whole way to your stand at a brisk pace will. Less sweat=less scent. It also means you are less likely to have wet clothing that will make you cold as soon as your body cools.
- Remote access- If you are hunting large public parcels and you are walking back hiking trails or railroad beds for several miles to get away from other hunters, a bike can do wonders for you. Not only does it save time, but it also makes these remote access areas even possible to hunt. Most people aren’t willing to walk 2-3 miles in. A bike makes these treks more feasible so you can avoid hunting pressure and hunt the deer that are doing the same.
- Deer Carrier- One of my good friends has rigged up his bike with a few extras, like a platform over the rear wheel and a handle bar rack. When he shoots a deer in a remote area, he walks it out on his bike instead of dragging it for 2 miles, or having to quarter it in the timber. I’d better mention that this technique is best coupled with some hunter orange to cover the deer for safety reasons.
- Less Pressure- In my opinion, the number one case for using a bike is that it allows you to put less pressure on the deer you are hunting. In suburban areas, deer may be used to bikers riding on trails past their bedding areas. You may need to push in past doe bedding to get to an area where you think a buck is bedded. If riding a bike keeps you from being associated with danger, it can give you access to more remote pieces of a property without spooking non target deer. Likewise, if you hunt primarily in hill country with a mixture of cover and open fields, you may be coming out of the timber and moving along roadways to get back to you vehicle. The deer may not tolerate the sight of a human walking along the roadside, however, there is a good chance they are accustomed to dirt bikes, fourwheelers and even cyclists on country roads. You can avoid having deer associate you with danger by turning your approach into just another common, non-threatening disturbance along the thoroughfare. This is the primary reason I pulled my bike out of the shed this year. I want to be able to move up and down the county road quickly, and without the deer associating me with hunter foot traffic. I hope this will keep the deer in the destination ag fields less disturbed throughout the whole season and keep doe family groups patterns in tact all the way into the pre-rut timeframe.
Consider tweaking a mountain bike for hunting access in the future. If it can save time, help you get into more remote areas, or lower the pressure on your local deer herd, how can it hurt your efforts? Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.
Email me at CommonGroundBowhunter@gmail.com