These are the things you should do after hunting season.
As we get into late winter most deer hunting seasons have either wrapped for the year or are close to completion. Regardless of how this season panned out, there are always things you can do in the late winter to help set yourself up for success next year.
We know many of you may be ready to move on to ice fishing and other winter activities. However, before you do that, at least consider some of our suggestions.
Because it's never too early to start prepping for next deer season. You never know how a little extra work today can pay off with a big buck harvest next year.
Pull non-permanent stands and blinds as soon as possible.
Probably our most dreaded chore at the end of the season each year is pulling all our ground blinds and treestands that we spent so much time placing before the season. It's a chore that's often complicated by snow and extreme cold. You may not want to go out and pull them right away. However, getting them out of the extreme elements of late winter will help extend the life of your equipment significantly. It's also not a bad idea just to get your gear out of the woods and then back out for a bit to give the surviving deer a chance to recover from the pressures of the season. They've got enough trouble surviving the winter to worry about without excess human presence in the woods. The more deer that winter in your hunting area, the more likely you will be to find some shed antlers once the snow starts thawing too.
Refresh your trail camera batteries.
It's not a bad idea to take stock of the surviving bucks at the end of the year and the best way to do that is through your trail cameras. Before the extreme cold hits, it's not a bad idea to refresh the batteries in your cameras. Remember the extreme cold can often drain batteries faster than other times of the year. A dead camera does not help with scouting efforts in any way. Swap out some fresh memory cards too while you're at it, especially for cameras on food plots that are frequented by deer in the late season. It doesn't take long for the camera to fill up with pics in a feeding location.
Take stock of your hunting gear. (and buy new stuff)
Winter is the perfect time to go through all your gear and figure out what's good for a few more years, what needs to be replaced, and what you do not need anymore. Now's the time to finally throw out that coat with the hole in it, or that grunt call that's broken. At the same time, late winter is a great time to buy new hunting gear. Many of the big box stores like Walmart put all their hunting gear on clearance. This is my favorite time of year to pick up scent free laundry detergents, gloves, and other miscellaneous gear from places like Walmart. I've gotten a few ladder stands for only $50 in this matter. The last few seasons I've done all my gear prep at the end of the year. This has led to a lot less headaches once the fall rolls around the next season.
Start planning your out-of-state adventures.
When it comes to planning a deer hunt out of state, it's never too early to get started. In some states, non-residents are required to apply for draws that start taking applications in January or February anyway. The cold dead of winter is a great time to start researching what it will take to finally hunt your dream destination. Especially if you are planning to hunt public land. It often takes a lot of time and effort to find the perfect spot that receives little hunting pressure.
If you can swing it, a late winter scouting trip to your state of choice is never a bad idea. Fresh sign from the rut will still be obvious, as will signs of other hunters using the area. If you're lucky, you may even find a shed antler that clues you in to a giant. The earlier you get started, the better your odds of success.
Do a little predator hunting.
This is always a good idea. Especially in late winter when deer are struggling to survive. Coyotes will often take advantage of the desperation of deer, especially big bucks who are worn down from the rigors of the rut. Helping to control the population will give the deer in your area a better chance of making it to the spring. If you live in a state that does not allow supplemental feeding of deer, this may be the next best thing you can do if you're concerned about deer survival in your area. Plus, it's just a good way to scratch that hunting itch one more time late in the year.
Start working on property improvements.
If you own your own land or have a lease, winter is the time to at least start thinking about improvements. It's not a bad idea to do some scouting after a fresh snow where you can observe deer tracks through your area. From this information you can determine the best place to build a food plot to attract and hold deer into the late seasons. It can also give you an idea of where to place some strategic hinge cuts, or places to plant needed trees or other forms of cover. Late winter can be an ideal time to do a little tree cutting for a new food plot since vegetation will be at its lowest levels. Get the trees cut now and then once the ground thaws in the spring, you'll be ready to do stump removal, tilling, disking, and planting of new plots that will be ready once deer season starts.
Start that new bow or rifle build.
One of the best wintertime projects you can work on for next season is setting up a new bow, rifle, or shotgun. Winter is a great time to research and buy new equipment. This also gives you extra time to fine-tune and experiment with your arrow rests, arrow setups, anchor points, and more on a new compound. With firearms and crossbows, get the optics mounted and you'll be ready to hit the range as soon as the weather breaks. This gives you more time to practice and sight your gear in months before the season ever begins. Trust us, it's a good feeling when you get to the last month of the season and your buddies are scrambling with last-minute adjustments you finished literally months earlier.
Enjoy the outdoors?
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