Crisp mornings, the leaves starting to show some color and hardy mums and pumpkins for sale everywhere can only mean one thing… early bow season is here! We live for it all year and when it nears we are giddier than a schoolboy on the last day of school just prior to summer vacation.
To get you even more jacked up, if that’s even possible, it may come as a surprise to know that most reputable trophy buck hunters will tell you that early season is one of the best times to kill a mature buck.
Hopefully you’ve studied your plan of attack. If not, or even so, there are a few basic early season strategies that just may have you sending a meat-seeking missile through a giant buck this fall.
If your season starts early enough you can still catch bucks on their summer pattern. At first I like to sit in more of an observation stand to see where the deer are coming from in the evenings and where they seem to be feeding at night. Even prior to the season coming in, sitting somewhere nonintrusive and glassing can give you a great jump start on where to hunt. Evening hunts seem to be more successful than morning hunts this time of year.
Getting between a buck’s bed and food source is a killer strategy. Be smart though, play the wind and be sure your entry and exit strategies allow you to sneak in and out undetected. It only takes a mistake or two for a mature buck to figure out he’s being hunted.
Hunt Closer to Bedding Areas
You want to set up closer to the known bedding areas than the food source. The closer to his bed you are the later you’ll catch him in the morning as he moves off of feeding to his bedding area.
In the evening you’ll catch him sooner as he gets up from bedding and begins moving towards the food. This will give you the best chance of an opportunity during legal shooting light. Hunt pinch points and funnels leading from bed to food. Create your own if there are none naturally.
Hunt Small Food Plots
Finding other food sources the buck might hit on his way to the big crop fields can be a killer early season strategy as well.
Small kill plots of clover, oats, and other green forage can be productive. As soybeans start to turn yellow and die off, deer look for greener pastures. That’s where planting your own food plots in strategic areas can fill a buck tag early in the season.
If you have any oaks on your property that have a good crop of acorns you might consider targeting that area early in the season.
Hunt Water Sources
In areas that are dry after a long hot summer you can score big by hunting over a known water source. If your area doesn’t have any naturally you can make one. I’ve seen many hunters bag a big buck by burying nothing more than a small plastic pool in the ground and filling it with water. Deer will drink from it if there isn’t another water source nearby. Again, just be sure you put it in a strategic place that makes sense so it’s easy for a buck to stop by during his normal routine.
Try these simple but effective early season hunting strategies this fall to see if you can bag a mature buck. But most of all have fun, be safe and enjoy the outdoors.