If you're a deer hunter on a budget, these tips will pay off.
Deer hunters might not be chasing whitetails right now, but there are things you can do during winter to prepare for a more productive season to come.
Use your journals
Utilize previous year's journals to recognize trends, identify over-hunted areas and rule out certain locales. Journal details can be an invaluable source self guides can utilize to pinpoint specific times and places of good activity for different outdoor endeavors, particularly when those who keep journals begin to realize trends over periods of years.
Move any stands from areas you need to let rest and perform maintenance. Are they squeaking? Oil them now to avoid the scent during the season. Are ratchet straps or cables on climbers worn out? Replace them before you hurt yourself.
Scout new public lands
Start by researching harvest reports per county in your state, and view these areas with online maps such as Google Earth to identify remote locations. Then scout them on foot. You've read before that the further you get from the road on public land deer hunts the better; it's true. However, if you find spots with low pressure, and you will, this rule can be bent.
New honey hole
Talk to any friends or neighbors with land to see if you might be able to setup a honey hole. They might want someone to help control the deer herd in the area. They might not. But you'll never know if you don't ask. Offer to help with landscaping or other odd jobs, or check online for possible lease openings. These can be relatively inexpensive to highly costly. Choose wisely.
Identify the best ways to hunt all new areas
It's probably better to decide and hang a few stands now, even though any deer movement will likely change due to food sources. Still: if you find well-worn trails and recognize bedding areas and nearby water sources, the deer will be there come bow season.
Did you oil that rifle or shotgun before putting it in the closet? Hopefully it's not in a case, which could likely be draining the oil from it. Did you wax your bow strings? It only takes a few minutes to extend their life, and you just might avoid an accident in the process.
Check your hunting garments
What about that pair of camo pants with the hole in the one knee? Patch it if you want, or get a new pair. Got both gloves still? I know I don't. You get the idea.
Shoot your weapons
There's no better time to extend your range with the gun or bow you plan to hunt with. I'm certain you've probably read a hundred times that year-round practice makes for better shooting. That's because it's true.
The cost and availability of certain rounds are can be high and unreliable these days. Take advantage of any gun shows, sales at local shops or online sources to get that extra box of ammo now.
Take your non-hunting significant other out to eat and catch a movie at least once a week for a while. This will ease the pain of your absence come deer season.
It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to get into the woods and hunt whitetails, but you will need to do some research and footwork to make the most of hunting on a budget.
Try some of these tips to make your next deer hunting season safer, more exciting and possibly more rewarding than ever before.