Here are the four basic steps to ensure you have a safe & productive weekend in the deer woods.
We all want to spend our days off during hunting season doing the things we love best. But of course, planning and preparation will go a long way.
Here are four easy ways to ensure you're taking advantage of your weekends, and making the best of deer hunting season.
Because this sort of thing is all we think about during the workweek...
1. Decide who you want to hunt with
The one factor that perhaps more than any other determines whether you have a boom-or-bust weekend in the deer woods is who you choose to hunt with. While for many the appeal of hunting is the "alone time" it offers, there's hardly a more rewarding experience than spending a weekend in deer camp with friends. That being said, careful consideration must be given to who is invited.
For starters, every group needs a jokester. While said person must know when enough is enough, the comedic relief this type of person offers makes a weekend in the woods rewarding, even if no tags are filled (Be forewarned; they will probably want to re-enact the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles).
Your hunting group will also be incomplete with a designated "old guy." Normally the one with the most experience, this is someone who makes everyone around them a better hunter, yet has enough humility to not be a "know-it-all." Hunting is an area, like many others, where it's helpful to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
It's extremely helpful, especially when your hunting weekend is away from home, to also invite someone who is a dedicated "gear junkie." We all know the type: the guy who has to drive his own vehicle to handle all the new equipment he brought and is never quite satisfied with his setup. As hunters we all forget things from time to time, and if you invite "gear guy," he will probably have three spares of whatever you forgot to bring.
No weekend in the woods is complete, however, without having a new hunter in the group. Helping introduce a new or inexperienced hunter to the deer woods is quite possibly the most rewarding experience in the outdoors; besides, it's pretty easy to convince the new guy to do your field dressing for you.
2. Pick a time
The ideal time to hunt is, obviously, the time when everyone you've invited can be there. Your "ultimate hunting weekend" turns into just another weekend in the woods if no one can come.
While the specific dates vary by location, perhaps the most exciting weekend to be in the woods is during the beginning of the rut, often called the "chase phase." Deer are more active during the chase phase than perhaps any other time, and while it can be almost impossible to nail down a pattern no other time offers a better chance at seeing mature bucks on their feet.
While for many states the first two weeks of November offer the greatest deer movement, this varies by region. Your state or local wildlife agency is a great source of information for when you can expect deer activity to kick into high gear.
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3. Pick a place
Once you have hand picked the right group and scheduled the perfect time, the next step towards planning the ultimate deer hunting weekend is choosing the right place.
Selecting the right place to hunt goes hand in hand with when you've planned to be in the woods. Hunting an area that's mostly large agricultural fields can be very productive both early in the season and after the rut, for example, but if you choose to hunt an area like this when acorns are falling you may spend more time playing Candy Crush than you do looking at deer. Likewise, an area that's great for catching bucks cruising during the early stages of the rut can be a ghost town at other times.
Ideally, choose a location where someone in your group has experience hunting during the time period your group will be there. This person will (hopefully) have an idea of the lay of the land, when and where deer move, their feeding patterns, etc. and will be able to guide the rest of the group to productive stand or blind locations.
Unless he doesn't like you, in which case you'll get stuck in a gar hole.
4. Be prepared
Nothing ruins a hunt, or a hunting weekend, like being unprepared. As you and your friends pack your gear, do your best to prepare for every conceivable scenario.
It may also be helpful to ask members of your group to focus on bringing certain types of gear. You can ask one person, for example, to pack all the necessary field dressing/processing equipment, another to bring gun/bow repair tools, another to pack food, another to bring extra ammo, etc. This division of labor helps ensure that you and your friends will have everything you need for a successful hunting weekend, without one person having to handle the burden of preparing for every contingency.
Follow these four steps, and your hunting weekend is guaranteed to be a memory you won't soon forget. While there can be no guarantee that you'll harvest a Booner, spending a weekend in the woods with good friends, at the right time, in the right place, with the freedom that comes from being prepared is sure to provide a memory that you'll cherish for a lifetime.
We hope it provides a trophy as well.
Be sure to share your tips for planning the ultimate hunting weekend or story about an unforgettable hunting trip in the comment section below.