Well September is here to stay for a few weeks. For some out there that means a prime chance to kill an early season buck. For others the dreaded wait until October. Regardless of where you sit in the waiting line it’s that time of year. Get your gear ready, your hunts planned, and get busy doing everything you’ll need to do to kill a buck this season. This is the final article for pre-season preparations. The next update will be chalked full of in season tactics to find and kill bucks. In the meantime read up on these categories and what can be done to prepare for the start of season. Good luck to all. The great outdoors awaits us all. There is no better time of year then the fall.
Trail Cameras: For some hunters their hit list is already made, for others they’re just getting started. Regardless of where you are at in figuring out what bucks you have to hunt placing cameras over the right location can be the difference between making a hit list and simply getting a few pictures of does. Primary pinch points, food plots, scrapes, and other prime locations should get a hit list going in due time. Another method many professional hunters use to get a good inventory of deer is to place corn near food sources to concentrate the deer near a camera. This is a very effective method for getting a good quick inventory of deer in the area. Regardless of the method you use to get pictures of deer now is the time to really get that hit list fine-tuned and finalized. If you have target buck or bucks that you’re really interested in harvesting pin-pointing that bucks core area to the best of your ability should be a primary goal with your cameras. Find out where he is moving during daylight. There are many different strategies for where and how to place cameras, but work hard to be scent free and take extreme caution not to bump the mature buck from the area and ruin your chances of harvesting that deer. The majority of article I read about mature buck harvests involve the use of trail cameras. Whatever you do, put those cameras to work so you can put down a fine buck.Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: The main type of scouting I continue to do is over alfalfa fields with a spotting scope. If food plots can be scouted using a spotting scope give it a try as well. The key is typically to be in a car when doing this or on some form of elevation where the deer are highly unlikely to see you. This type of scouting may lead to locating a mature buck feeding in a field just before the season starts. Look for the deer in the fields in the evening or after a rain or nights that are remarkably colder then other nights. If a buck reveals a pattern move in to kill the buck whenever your season allows you to get after him. Waiting for the right moment (light rain, a cooler night, and perfect wind direction) is often the difference between killing the buck and missing him in action once the season starts.
Food – Nutrition: Most hunters have their late season food plots in at this point. Now is the time of year to be aware of acorn, apple, pear, and other mast crops that are producing food for deer. Also most bean fields are transitioning or some are already being harvested, while corn fields will be getting pounded by deer at this time. Alfalfa fields should still be getting good attention this time of year and food plots should start getting some good action as well depending on the variety of food. Key in on the right food sources to locate that early buck that is fueling up for the rut.
Learning about the Whitetail: I never stop learning about the whitetail. It’s one of those animals that is heavily researched and there is always something new to learn. Here are a few new insights I’ve come across from this past month:
- Wired to Hunt featured a great podcast with Steve Bartylla on many aspects of the what it takes to hold and harvest mature bucks
- QDMA released a fine article discussing the home ranges of bucks
- Team 200 continues to deliver fine episodes of hunting mature bucks on their website, for this being their first season together I believe they’ve done an excellent job
- Realtree’s Antler Nation continues to grade hunting in states throughout the whitetails range.
Mock Scrapes/Rubs: Scrapes are an important part of a whitetails communications with one another. Now is the time to be ramping up on mock scrapes. Get these scrapes going so the deer start using them come the start of your season. Scrape activity will increase as October arrives and the rut edges closer and closer. Location is important when considering scrape locations. Attempt to create scrapes in areas of cover with the hope of getting mature bucks to use the scrapes during daylight hours. Freshening a scrape can be done with real deer urine or synthetic urine. I’ve read enough articles that have convinced me that human urine is a viable way to freshen mock scrapes. Shortly the deer will start to be lay down many of their own. The same goes for rubs. I’ve been putting rubs throughout many of my hunting areas using nothing more than a knife.
Planning Your Hunts for the Season:
Will you be hunting in one location all season. Consider what wind is important to have for each stand site. Pay attention to weather and what days make sense to hunt each stand site. Furthermore develop some sort of rotation that won’t burn out your stand sites. Beyond these factors are moon phases and timing of the rut something you are thinking about, you may want to start. At the least consider saving your best spots for the pre-rut and rut.
If you’re like me and you’ll be hunting in numerous locations consider what days are going to the best to get the job done in the varying locations. Out of state hunts aren’t necessarily that easy at all, so do your best to time those trips accordingly. If you hunt multiple properties in the same state consider which of the properties you’ll save for the pre-rut and rut and which properties will be better for early and late season when the deer are most focused on food. Also don’t neglect moon phases and weather patterns. These can be important variables for increasing your success.
Shooting Practice: This is something you can’t skip out on. The more you shoot the better. The more consistent you are shooting and the tighter your groups the better. I’ve been making sure to get some shooting in. Now that I have many of the whitetail tasks I’ve needed to get done completed I’ve made sure to spend time shooting here in September and will continue to practice until the season starts and will continue to practice throughout the season. When practicing do whatever possible to make the situations as close too realistic as possible. That includes shooting from a treestand or a high elevation, shooting with hunting gear on, gloves on, ect.
Out of State Hunting Plans: I’ll be heading out of state to hunt at the end of September; I can’t wait to get my season started with this. My goal will be to harvest the first mature buck I get a chance at. I look forward to using my Lone Wolf tree stand and many of the scouting techniques I’ve learned in an attempt to harvest a mature buck. I came across this great website that directs you to all the state land options throughout the US. Using that website and others topographical views have given me a decent idea of where to look for spots when I get some boots on the ground.
Stand Scouting and Preparation: Final preparations for tree stands should be all but complete at this point. If you’re behind the eight ball then aim to do stand preparations just before a rain storm to get your scent eliminated from the area as quickly as possible.
Gear Preparation: Make sure your gear is ready for the season. There are numerous items needed to have a successful hunting season. Check and double check everything you’ll need to make sure that you’re ready for that out of state hunt or even for the hunt at the family farm a few hours away. Maybe your property in your backyard is still in need of a few items to have everything ready for the season. Don’t wait until the last minute to be ready, well it’s almost the last minute, but still get what you need.
Giving Back: Hunting isn’t a sport to be done alone, yes much of hunting trophy whitetails is done individually, but by in large the stories are shared with others. More often then not nearly every serious hunter has someone they often share hunting stories with or even hunt together in various situations. Think of buddies of yours that could use help getting ready for season, don’t be shy to help them out. If you’re way behind then maybe you need to get your tasks done, but if you are on top of things then take a day or so to help a buddy get ready for the season. It goes along way and it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time.
Mineral – Nutrition: Deer will slow down greatly on their mineral consumption as their velvet is shed. Most deer throughout the whitetails range have or will be shedding their velvet any day now. If you’re like me and still desire to offer deer minerals; Realtree offers this type of option for a very affordable supplement. I divide the bags into multiple spots instead of making one massive mineral location.
Water – Nutrition: While deer season is here in most cases or about to begin within weeks it’s probably not wise to do any massive waterhole work, but it may make sense to do a small or minor water whole project depending on your temperatures and the climate you hunt in. The warmer that weather the more likely this type of technique could lead to success during the season. There are a few ways to accomplish getting water holes on your property. In dry areas burying a large plastic tub can work as well. Fill it with water yourself or allow rain to fill the bucket. The bottom line is water is vital to whitetails during this hot time of year and in many places throughout the country it continues to be very hot in much of the whitetails range. It wet areas simply dig a hole in the ground. Our property now has numerous water holes and sometimes we have to dig them slightly deeper if things get quite dry. Jeff Sturgis of Habit Solutions emphasizes the importance of water holes.