As the fall deer hunting season approaches you begin dreaming about the opportunity at a trophy buck or perhaps just the serenity of being in the woods and seeing deer in their natural habitat. Whatever does it for you it’s certainly a magical time that gets most hunters excited.
Whether you’re trying to top a great last year or wanting to forget about the one that got away, it all starts now in the planning before opening morning. Following some basic but helpful preseason deer hunting tactics can mean the difference between success or eating another tag sandwich.
In the Field
1. Plant a late summer food plot. A well established food plot or kill plot can be a surefire way to bring deer within range. One of my best kill plots was only 1/4 acre in size and planted all by hand. It was planted in Forage Oats and the does where there religiously every evening during bow season. And yes, where there were does eventually the bucks followed.
2. In late spring or early summer setting one or more trail cameras can give you the edge you need. I like setting a few cameras close to known bedding areas and using a deer attractant to lure deer into the camera’s view. This gives me great information on which bucks are in the area and how well they are developing.
3. In the months and weeks leading up to opening morning try observing deer in the morning and evening. When the wind is right I’ll suit up and climb into an observation stand or tower. With a pair of binoculars I’ll observe deer movement to begin the process of patterning them. I’ll note when and where they enter or exit fields, food plots, and other travel corridors.
4. Scout your hunting property for travel routes, feeding, and bedding areas. Proper scouting can help you find new tree stand or ground blind locations. I always shower, suit up, and use scent eliminator before scouting just like I do prior to hunting. The more you pressure the deer the harder they’ll be to hunt so take every precaution necessary and try not to spook deer or let them know you’ve been in the woods at all.
5. Try to set all your tree stands and ground blinds a few months before opening morning. It’s hard to hide the fact that you’ve been in the woods when you are hauling equipment, climbing trees, sawing branches, and sweating your ass off. So the earlier you can set stands the better.
Out of the Field
6. Time for a gear and equipment check. Prior to hunting season I’ll go through all my hunting gear organizing it and taking inventory. This is also a great time to assess your bow or gun and make any necessary maintenance repairs or fixes. I’ll check the batteries in all my electronics, flashlights, etc. and make sure my hunting clothes are in good shape.
7. Buy anything you need like arrows, broadheads, calls, scent elimination, lures, and even your license and tags a few months before you need them. There have been a few times I waited to the last second to buy something and couldn’t find what I needed. Do your shopping early before supplies diminish.
8. Site in your bow or gun and practice, practice, practice. Too many hunters wait to the last second to make a few practice shots before heading out to hunt. Don’t make that mistake. Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity. You want to be as ready as possible if you get a chance at the deer of a lifetime.
9. Go to a 3D archery shoot or visit a shooting range. 3D shoots and/or skeet and trap shooting events can be an excellent way to work the kinks out of your equipment and to hone your shooting skills. Besides that they are a lot of fun and you’ll meet other hunters and make new friends.
10. Something that should be done preseason, during season, and in the off season is to protect the sport of hunting. Support organizations that fight for our hunting rights. Go to a rally, give money, and speak out against stricter gun laws. It’s up to us as hunters to protect our hunting rights. So stand up and fight!