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Deer Hunting Early Season

Early Season Bow Hunting

    By Clynt Kistler

    Why is it that when mid September comes, that mature buck we have caught on camera over the summer seems to disappear? There are a lot of theories on why these bucks tend to disappear or go nocturnal. It could be because of the changes in crops/food sources, it could be because their velvet gets a little itchy, or it could be the presence of man in the woods. Here are 15 tips to help you bag that early season bruiser in your area.

    1. Figure out if there is a trophy deer or shooter buck in your area. This could and should be done well before the season starts by shed hunting, putting out trail cameras, and scouting from a distance.

    • Once determining that there is a shooter buck in your hunting area, this should build your confidence. Stan Potts describes this confidence pretty simply; “If you know those deer are there, when you go hunting you will go out early and stay late.”

    2. Find out what food sources will be available for the deer. This includes: crops and woodland food sources.

    3. Evening hunts tend to be much more productive in the early season.

    • When you hunt in the morning, you risk the chance of spooking the deer off of food sources. If you do plan on hunting in the morning, get in the woods 2 hours before light and plan on seeing does and young deer. It can be done, but just like hunting the late season, evening hunts tend to be more productive.

    4. Put up stands/ cut shooting lanes early.

    • Like I said in my article on Preparing for the Deer Season, if you wait until two weeks before the season starts, put up 5 stands, and leave all your scent in the woods, it’s just going to hurt your chances that much more. Get your stands up early. If you do wait until the last minute, take your stand in the same day you are going to hunt. Go to your tree early in the afternoon with light clothes on, and take your time setting up your stand. There is no use setting up a bunch of stands, and littering the woods with your scent for a bunch of stands that you might not even hunt in until November.

    5. Make sure the wind is right for your entrance, your sit, and your exit from your stand.

    •  Hunters often consider the wind direction for sitting in the stand, but fail to think about their entrance and exit. These play extremely important roles anytime of the year.

    6. Use scent control. Use scent control suits, spray down with scent spray, and take your time walking to your stand on hot days. 

    •  Don’t be afraid to use a lot of spray. From my experiences various scent killing sprays work effectively combined with a carbon lined suit. Early season scent control is extremely important especially with the extra scent we give off from sweating while walking into our stands.

    7. Hunt early rub lines.

    • From my experiences and the people that I have talked to, the big bucks often lose their velvet first. This should occur around the start of the season. Don’t bother hunting rubs on the edges of food sources, but the rubs leading to food sources from potential bedding areas. Your best bet is to set up a ways back from the food source on the rub line, and you might cut off a bachelor group of bucks heading to the food source just before dark. Keep in mind that deer tend to bed close to food sources this time of year. So, don’t set up too far away from the food source or you risk blowing them out of their bedding area. Hunting rub lines in the early season has been a successful tactic for many bow hunters over the years.

    8. Set up between woodland food sources and crops.

    • You might catch a bachelor group of bucks traveling to their main course after snacking on some appetizers.

    9. Just because it is hot, does not mean the dear aren’t going to move for food or water.

    • Deer have to eat. When it is hot the deer tend to feed at night. But just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t up and about. Trail cameras come in handy to locate potential deer movement during shooting hours.

    10. It doesn’t do much good to hunt an area in the woods that produces acorns if the acorns have not fallen or are not falling yet.

    • Hunting over or near a food source such as acorns are a great technique, but not when they aren’t on the ground.

    11. Scout after the season starts!

    • Do this by keeping trail cameras out (preferably infrared), talk to landowners, neighbors, paper route workers, Sanitation workers, and ask them if they have seen any deer activity. All of these could benefit you greatly and tell you that you are hunting in the wrong area. This is helpful all season long.

    12. When it is extremely hot, and there hasn’t been rain in a while, try hunting a water source. Water sources are difficult to hunt, but if there is no activity where you are currently hunting, it is worth a try.

    13. Don’t stop practicing your shooting once the season starts.

    • A lot of us are guilty of this including myself. Once the season starts, archers tend to take that time they would normally spend shooting, and use it in the woods. You have to continue to shoot as the season progresses. I like to try and shoot 5-10 arrows before I go out hunting.

    14. Try hunting between a bedding area and a mineral supplement pile.

    • Check your states regulations first, but the deer will hit the mineral all through September and October. In some areas the deer will hit the mineral harder than others, and some areas the deer will hit it strictly at night. A lot of success depends on how scent free you are when putting out the mineral.

    15. Have confidence.

    • Have confidence in your hunt/set up. The best way to have confidence in your set up is to make sure you don’t half a** anything. I realize that a large number of hunters have a limited amount of time to hunt, and that taking shortcuts may seem like the best option for you. But the truth is, if you really want to bag that trophy of a lifetime, you are going to have to work for it.

    If you have any other tactics you would like to share, feel free to send them into us, and we’ll post them on Ultimate Deer Hunting.