When the constant and often oppressive summer heat in the South starts to become less consistent, deer hunting season is right around the corner.
The thermometer hasn’t hit the ninety mark for several days here in North Carolina, and while I slowly trolled along Gaston Lake this past weekend, searching for and catching striped bass, I also noticed whitetail deer on the shoreline in broad daylight on multiple occasions.
So it’s only natural to start thinking about this coming deer season.
Since we should all already know where we will be spending much of our time in the woods this coming season by now, I’ll leave, “Find Your Next Honey Hole” off the list. But if you haven’t the slightest idea where you’ll be perched or stalking big game this fall yet, consider this as crucial as anything else you’ll read in the rest of this article.
The last thing you want to have happen is for your buddies to start sending you pics of their deer when you haven’t even hung a stand. So here is a list of things I would highly recommend looking into right now.
1. Go ahead and take all your hunting clothing, gear, stands, everything but your weapons, and put them outside.
A screened-in porch is awesome, but not necessary. Of course, if you expect theft you can just leave your stuff in scent-proof containers and hope for the best, but I prefer airing out all my stuff a good month or more prior to hunting.
I don’t have a screened area at present, so I just put all my stuff on the back deck in their containers. Then, as often as I can remember, I pull out articles of clothing and hang them off the deck rails. I do keep my Summit Climber chained to the deck with a lock. When I expect rain I just put the stuff back in the bins.
I honestly think scent control is the most important aspect of deer hunting, so this step, in my opinion, is non-negotiable.
2. Go practice shooting. Like, a lot.
We all know we should be shooting our weapons as much as possible throughout the year for great form, but now I like to shoot more often, especially if I’m bowhunting; like at least three or four shots a day.
Rifle shooting this much for many people just isn’t an option, but the more you get out and squeeze off a few rounds the less likely you’ll yank a trigger or forget to breathe in the field. And these mistakes can ruin a season in moments. So get out and shoot as much as you can now.
3. It’s obvious to most hunters that summer scouting is critical, just don’t over-do it.
And when you do go, make sure the last few steps that could determine success or failure aren’t left for opening day. Are your shooting lanes open? Is your stand site secure and safe? Do you have an alternate route to quietly reach the stand?
These little things can become big things if you fall from thirty feet in the air, or the deer pattern you because you always enter the woods from the same direction, or your arrow clips that branch you knew you should have cut in August.
4. Are you baiting?
I have rarely baited deer since my first season of hunting. I just learned to hunt travel corridors or natural mast for the most part, and I liked saving money and steps. But over the last few seasons deer sightings have dramatically dropped in most of the areas I hunt, mostly due to EHD, so last year I did throw out a little corn and apples in one private land location.
It was the only place I saw a deer over 2-1/2 years of age all season, and the only place I took a shot and harvested a nice deer. So if you decide to throw out some of the yellow stuff, go ahead and do it now. Touch it up every two or three weeks before opening day and the deer will be comfortable; your spot will be on their regular daily pattern.
Baiting is a flammable subject among most hunters, but if it’s legal in your state and you think you may not see deer otherwise…
5. After you’ve scouted your spots and gone over your options you’ll likely have a certain stand site in mind for your opening day morning hunt.
But what if the wind is wrong on that particular morning? Or if you bumped deer the last time you went in pre-season, or if you bump them going in that first morning? Or perhaps you were going to a remote and mostly unused public land spot that you never see anyone at – ever – but on opening day it’s a zoo. Yep – it happens.
So make sure you have a couple different options in mind. The last thing you want to do is be stressed and angry and have to make a decision like this on the fly. Better to have the options already in the forefront of your mind so if that first option gets hosed, you won’t be psyched out before the hunt even begins.
Start doing these things now, and your upcoming season should get off to the right start. Good luck.