Hunting season is upon us for some, and approaching for others. If you do want to busy yourself with preparation, however, there are a few things you can do to lay the groundwork for a hunting season success. We've collected a quartet of our favorite preparations below:
1. Take stock of your trail cameras: If you were thinking ahead during the spring or summer, then your trail cameras have already been collecting snapshots of your target bucks for months now. If you have no cameras currently in the field, you might still be able to benefit from installing them. Trail cameras help you to judge buck travel patterns or to pick out one or two animals that you are interested in pursuing throughout the season. They will tip you off to locations of feeding and bedding areas, and will help you plan out tree stand locations or blinds that take advantage of the travel paths between those spots.
Alternatively, if you have no trail cameras in the field and think it is too late for them to do much good, head out to your tree stand and start scouting the area with binoculars. You won't be able to get as much information, but you will get started scanning the sightlines and possible trailways.
2. Find the prime feeding spots: This can play into the trail cam tip, but it is also worth a standalone mention. Early in the season, bucks eat a lot and gain a substantial amount of weight so as to support their activities during the rut. Finding the most plentiful food source with the most nutritional crop will also probably find you groups of bucks feeding together, all in one place. Take note of those spots to get an inventory of bucks in the area, then consider returning when hunting season is underway. After all, hunting a food plot is the best way to catch a mature buck off-guard early in the season.
3. Stock up on scent control: If you are going to scout your hunting territory before opening day, or to try hunting food plots early on, you are going to have to make sure you don't ruin the rest of your season by spooking all the deer. One of the most important components to that step is to make sure your scent doesn't give you away.
Early in the season, you have the element of surprise on your side. It's been almost a year since the last hunting season, and deer will have their guards down. A successful hunter will use that sense of false security to score a major kill on the first days of the season, but in order to do that, they have to make sure they are playing the role of undetectable assassin.
Load up on scent control and wash your clothes in scentless soap to boost your chances.
4. Have a plan to strike while the iron is hot: As was mentioned above, the early season can be a great time to take a few unsuspecting bucks before they are more aware of their surroundings. Spend the months and weeks leading up to opening day using the information you have collected to plan a perfect early season attack. If you have your eyes on a mature buck and an idea of how you can trap him, use it; if you are hesitant, either the buck will figure out what's up or another hunter will bring him down.
Do you have any further advice for early season preparation? If so, share it in the comments section below.