Pre-Season Efforts for June

Nutrition:

Food: Clover/chicory/corn/beans should now be planted. These plantings types provide whitetails with good summer forage. Browse in the timber is equally as important to the whitetails diet during this time of year. Throughout much of the whitetails range there has been ample rain for food plots. The only reason you may want to wait on putting bean in the ground is to have them green during the first of October, with this in mind wait to plant your beans until late June/early July. This is a tactic we’re trying.

Plot Preparation: First we did a soil test early in the year. At this point we’ve sprayed all of our plots, some multiple times. We’ve also mowed them to knock down all of the dead vegetation. Then we proceed with tilling. We’re still in the process planting right now. When we go to seeding we’re spreading the fertilizer and the seed. After that we roll (cultipaking even better) the plot to ensure for good seed to soil contact. Then it’s time to let Mother Nature do her thing.

Minerals: I’ve been refreshing mineral sites lately. My preference is to mix the minerals with dirt as best as possible. Deer like to eat minerals mixed in with dirt better then they prefer straight mineral. I have a couple of mineral sites that are getting buck and doe activity in them. Deer certainly love the minerals this time of year. I’ve made it a priority to have minerals at each of the properties I hunt.

Water: Thanks to all of the rain my water holes are now full of water and receiving good deer activity.

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Bucks at the Water Hole

Trail Cameras: My trail cameras over scrapes are continuing to get some activity. I’ll be leaving a few cameras over scrapes for a long time. The cameras I have over minerals are getting lots of activity. I also have one camera over alfalfa and another over growing beans.

Mock Scrapes/Rubs: All of my mock scrapes are basically old deer scrapes that I make sure to freshen up and add scent to. Most of them are getting pretty good deer activity. This is an effective way to get deer to stop where you want them too. All of these locations are just off of or directly on deer trails.

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Buck on a Scrape

Food Source Scouting: I’ve just recently started doing a tiny bit of food source scouting. I’ve seen a little bit of activity in doing this, but until the beans get bigger they’re not going to be offering the type of activity I prefer would scouting over food sources. Come mid to late July food source scouting should heat up.

Stand Scouting and Preparation: I have one more new stand that I really need to trim shooting lanes for and get a nice access trail too. Once that is done I’ll be somewhat happy with where I’m at getting stands ready for the season.

Shooting Practice:  I’ve been slacking in this area. Pretty soon I’ll need to get the bow out and begin fine tuning my shot. A buddy of mine is in the process of getting some of my arrows refletched. Once that is done hopefully I get excited about getting myself in form for the season.

Continual Learning: It’s food plot season so I’ve been teaching myself as much as I have time to regarding food plots and how to go about planting them. I’ve recently come across to food plot seed websites that I am very impressed with: Deer Creek Seed and Hancock Seed Company. These sites offer individual seed sales as well as seed blends. My favorite aspects of these sites is the attention to detail provided regarding nutrition information, planting dates, seeding rates, ect. In addition to that I’ve been enjoying some great habitat articles from Jeff Sturgis as of late. Here are a few that I found to be very insightful: Creating Daytime Buck Travel and Attracting a Buck to your Property

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Magazine Guide

Most serious hunters agree that there is no offseason. When you’re not hunting it’s time to learn, and it’s time to get ready. I make every effort to do at least something everyday to either learn or prepare for the upcoming season. Certain days that doesn’t happen, but 9 times out of 10 it does.

Here’s the magazine’s I’ve come to appreciate and learn from when I’m looking to gather more details about whitetails.

  • Field and Stream: If you’re looking for unique ideas and approaches on how to tag a mature buck this magazine will deliver that. Certain parts of year this magazine shifts it’s focus to other topics, but when it’s time to cover whitetails you can count on great information.
  • Whitetail Journal: This magazine cover’s everything whitetails – food plots, hunting strategies, calling in deer, habitat management…you name it, they cover it.
  • Peterson’s Bowhunting: Experts write articles to fine tune your hunting skills in this magazine. Grant Woods and Bill Winke are regular contributors along with the Peterson’s staff. Monthly excerpts will provide you with an edge coming into your next season.
  • North American Whitetail: For monster buck stories, deer biology information from Dr. James Kroll, and more turn to this magazine. I always enjoy the contents of NAW.
  • Quality Whitetails: You can’t go wrong here. All QDMA members receive Quality Whitetails. This magazine provides all things whitetail. If you’re a habitat manager this is a magazine you need to get your hands on.

Pre-Season Efforts for May

Nutrition:

Food: Clover/chicory along with any other spring season perennials should be in the ground now that we’re nearing the end of may. We planted our clover/chicory plot last weekend. With some timely rain it should be looking good soon. Farmers have already begun to plant a lot of their corn and it’s starting to show good signs of growth. You’ll want to make sure you get any corn or beans you’ll be planting in the ground sooner then later. If you want green beans for the season opener wait to plant your beans until late June/early July otherwise get those crops in the ground now.

Plot Preparation: First we did a soil test early in the year. Now we’ve sprayed nearly all of our plots. We’ve also cut them to knock down all of the dead vegetation. Then we proceed with tilling. We’re in the process of tilling and planting right now. One of the plots is done and a few more are already tilled and should be planted soon. When we go to seeding we’re spreading the fertilizer and the seed. After that we roll the plot to ensure for good seed to soil contact. Then it’s time to let Mother Nature do her thing.

Minerals: I’ve been getting the minerals going good as of late. My preference is to mix the minerals with dirt as best as possible. Deer like to eat minerals mixed in with dirt better then they prefer straight mineral. I have a couple of mineral sites that are getting buck and doe activity in them. Deer certainly love the minerals this time of year. I’ve made it a priority to have minerals at each of the properties I hunt.

Bucks love minerals
Minerals

Water: With the dry summer thus far I’ve had to dig my water holes a bit deeper to keep the water in them. That technique has worked quite well for getting some water to show up in the hole.

Trail Cameras: My trail cameras over scrapes are continuing to get decent activity. I’ll be leaving a few cameras over scrapes for a long time. The cameras I have over minerals are getting a lot of activity as well. Beyond those two areas, green food plots are the other great option for trail cameras or growing soybeans.

Scrapes work year round
Scrapes work year round

Mock Scrapes/Rubs: All of my mock scrapes are basically old deer scrapes that I make sure to freshen up and add scent to. Most of them are getting pretty good deer activity. This is an effective way to get deer to stop where you want them too. All of these locations are just off of or directly on deer trails.

Food Source Scouting: I’ll be holding off on this type of scouting until the beans are bigger and the bucks have put some serious headgear on. It’s still quite early for that. I am not seeing a ton of buck activity in the alfalfa fields at this point.

Stand Scouting and Preparation: I have one more new stand that I really need to trim shooting lanes for and get a nice access trail too. Once that is done I’ll be somewhat happy with where I’m at for getting stands ready for the season.

Shooting Practice:  I’ve been slacking in this area. Pretty soon I’ll need to get the bow out and begin fine tuning my shot.

Continual Learning: It’s food plot season so I’ve been teaching myself as much as I have time to regarding food plots and how to go about planting them. Whitetail Institute has a good web TV site dedicated to all of their various blends. They also have a planting date recommendation for all of their products as well. It’s based on specific states as opposed to regions, which I found to be quite helpful. The QDMA has compiled a list of good resources to visit regarding different plant species and planting ideas.

One of the Secrets to Killing Mature Bucks

It’s simple. Stay out. It’s easy to think that we can do countless things to get bucks to be on our property. In some cases that is true. But more often then not a mature buck needs to feel safe. The best way to do this is to stay out of the area until it’s time to hunt.

Food plots have their place to draw in deer. Intense habitat management can and will be effective over a period of time, but making these changes doesn’t happen overnight. There are tons of steps that need to be taken to make a highly managed property an incredibly effective place to hunt.

The perfect call you see in an add, or that tempting new scent you read about in the magazine are far less likely to kill you a the buck of a lifetime then proper respect for a mature animal will. Respect the fact that these animals are masters of survival. Specifically I’m speaking to the big buck you’re after. Respect that fact that the more pressure you put on these animals the harder they’ll be to kill.

So after you’ve stayed out…when is it time to move in for the kill; that all depends.

If you are hunting over food sources probably the first part of the season or the late season. In this case you can ask yourself if trail cameras are helping or hurting you since you have to go in and check them. Obviously the wireless options are great, but I only personally know one person with one. So you may want to just wait for an early season cold front over that food source or a late season drop in temperature to move in during that time of year. In order to keep the area pressure free in may be the time to forget using a camera altogether over that great food source.

If you’re hunting deep in the woods, possibly near bedding areas hold off to pre-rut and rut. This is often and always will be one of the best times to see mature bucks. The cautious approach is to wait until late October, certainly no earlier then the 20th. Waiting until the 25th or even Halloween isn’t a bad idea either. The safest bet is to wait until the first week in November. By this point in the season you’re sure to see some good action. These dates can hold true for your favorite pinch point, the great staging area you know about, the secluded CRP grounds or quite simply an area that receives little human presence.

One of the keys to success for all this tactic is to get your stands up early. Just following the season is the safest bet. The middle of the summer is the next best option. Waiting until just before the season to place your stand can be a costly mistake if this is the tactic you’re looking to deploy.

Regardless of what type of plan you have going into this upcoming season do yourself a favor and try this somewhere. Give it a try on a 5 acre part of your property, your best spot that you think no-one enters on state land, or even an entire property if you’re blessed to have multiple hunting locations.

If you’re really serious about killing large deer then take this seriously. It can work quite well. One way to increase your odds for this tactic is to get multiple locations to hunt. The more locations you have to hunt the less pressure you’re likely to put on them. In turn the more likely a buck is to feel safe and free of human pressure in that location.

Please don’t take this article as an excuse to do nothing. I strongly recommend habitat improvements on a property you own. Work hard to acquire multiple properties to hunt, work hard to scout on state land, but remember when it comes to the time a few months before the season and during the season itself, respect these deer and give them their space.

Here’s how it paid off for me in 2014:

On November 3rd I had the best hunting day of my life. I waited all season long to hunt my main property. I did use cameras on this property and it does get human activity on part of it, but I did everything in my power outside of that to keep these deer pressure free. They had not had any hunting pressure up until this point.

On that day the following took place. I saw one of our oldest bucks for the first time ever. I also saw 3 immature bucks that morning as well, one of which was a young 8 point. This flurry of activity took place within 15 minutes. Two does were being chased by bucks and new bucks quickly began to filter in after the scent the doe was leaving behind. Roughly 10-15 minutes later the mature buck returned chasing a doe. I chose to do some calling to that buck and he let out a powerful buck growl in response to my calls, not just once but a handful of times.

One of the bucks seen after waiting all season to move in.
One of the bucks seen after waiting all season to move in.

After such a successful morning in the woods I knew it was time to move further into the back part of our property. My father and I headed back for yet another exciting hunt. Within minutes of getting on stand we had young bucks cruising the area. In total we say 4 immature bucks that evening. Again one of them was an immature 8 point. To conclude the excitement my father had a good encounter with a mature buck we called Mr. Perfect.

The buck my father saw that evening
The buck my father saw that evening

While we didn’t seal the day that day close calls and excitement marked the best hunting day of my life. Did this have to do with pre-rutting activity? You can be certain it did. I planned for this; I knew that the deer activity would be good around this time of year so that is why I waited. Would my hunt have been this good if I had been hunting this area all season long? I certainly don’t believe it would have been that good. That fact that this 90 acres was holding that many bucks made it very clear to me that the holding off to hunt this property clearly allowed the deer to feel quite safe here. Both does and buck wanted to be in this area.

Post-Season Efforts for February, March, April

The post-season came and went in a flash. Once bucks start growing their racks I consider the post-season over and the new season alive and well. April marks the month were that happened. I’m not seeing bucks with some decent bases while I’ve been out turkey hunting and I’m also seeing the start of growth on trail camera pictures.

Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: Once the snow melts it’s a whole new type of scouting. You’re able to see old trails that weren’t necessarily made in the snow. Beyond trails scrapes become quite visible at this time. Since food sources are scarce this time of year I’ve put a good amount of time into searching for and monitoring scrapes. Whitetails use them year round. In my one of my two adventures in state land scouting I was able to locate a few new rubs and a scrape of two. That specific area is loaded with deer sign. A lot of the sign is located in a staging area not far off the primary food source in the area.

Stand Scouting and Preparation:  My father and I made decisions for our new stand placements on our main hunting property. I hung my lone wolf briefly in one of them and was able to completely get the stand ready for the upcoming season. I was delighted to get the project done this early. I have one more major stand project to do. I cannot wait to get that done and out of the way.

Shed Hunting: Shed hunting was unsuccessful for us, but a good friend of mine has been having some dynamite action this past shed season. One of those finds was a 190″ buck. When I was able to actually put my hands on those sheds my jaw dropped. What an amazing set of antlers. I hope to learn more from him in the coming days to effectively find sheds in the post-season.

Trail Cameras: As the snow melted and food sources for deer have completely changed I’ve switched all of my trail camera efforts primarily to scrape monitoring. The action on the scrapes has been quite impressive. This is the first year I’ve made it a priority to maintain these scrapes and monitor them. Thus far I’ve been rather impressive with the results. My plan is to leave a handful of cameras on scrapes all the way into late October when the scrape use starts to die down. Mineral spots as well as spring food plots are equally if not more effective trail camera spots. My state does not allow minerals to be placed in any location so I’ve chosen to use scrapes for the most part.

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Nutrition: Supplemental food is all I’ve provided for deer in moderation (always check state laws for what is ok). During the winter months I did drop numerous white cedar branches and had quite a bit of success getting the whitetails some browse in a tough time of year.

Minerals: If you’re state allowed be sure to get your minerals out early. A lot of guys wait until antler growth starts, but providing year round minerals can be quite helpful to your herd.

Food Plots: I’ve gotten excited for food plotting in the spring already. I’ve worked on creating a poor man’s plot. I’ll need to spray it here as soon as time allows. Beyond that I’ve got my soil tests in and soon we’ll be buying fertilizer and spraying all of the plots to kill weeds. A good friend of mine already has a clover plot plowed and planted. The quicker you can get the spring plots done the better. Food for the local deer herd this time of year is critical.

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Predator Control: Personally I didn’t spend any time in this department on my own farm, but we did take a few cracks at my buddies farm to no avail. There was one coyote that was missed by a member of our hunting party. All things considered it was great to get out with the goal of taking down a few coyotes.

Year Round Learning: The whitetail is a genius of a creature. Take the time to learn about them whenever time allows. I just watched a great habitat video that Jim Brauker filmed on Andy Hayes property. Jim Ward leads much of the discussion on this fascinating property tour. Another article of interest is this deer lab article regarding trail cameras and how to most effectively use them.

The projects we fail to do for whitetails now will often lead to some of the regrets we have for the 2015 season. It’s the guy that does the hard work now that will often reap the rewards come fall.

Post-Season Efforts for January

The Superbowl is here, it’s hard to believe January has come and gone. Just as the season flies by so too does the post-season. Ohio hunters were blessed with the opportunity to hunt throughout the month of January while many of the rest of us had to hang up our weapons sometime during January. It’s a tough time of year to call it quits, but nearly everything has an end.

Bed, Trail, Rub, Scrapes and Food Source Scouting: I’ve done my homework and really been trying to nail down some of the main trails that the deer uses to enter and exit my swamp. This has been a process that trail cameras and tracks in the snow continue to give me more and more clarity about. I found a few beds and a few good rubs, I also found a scrape that appears to be a solid year round scrape.

Beds-Rubs

Stand Scouting and Preparation:  I’ll have to consider if I should trim any shooting lanes in the next few months. I did take down all of our stands in the month of January. The purpose is to them out of the weather and store them for the time being. As the off-season presses on we’ll do some work to repair issues in the stand and we’ll be working to make our stands quieter. I will be going out to scout for a few new potential stand sites when time allows. This is something that can pay large dividends if taken seriously, come the time you hang you’re stands you’ve already got the hard part out of picking a tree to hang your stand in.

Shed Hunting: I almost got a buddy to go shed hunting with me the other day, but that fact that both of us have newborns kept us from the task. Hopefully in the coming months I’ll get out a few times to look for sheds.

Trail Camera Surveys: My post-season herd survey isn’t going quite as hoped, but for the time being I’ve got a few mainstay deer on the property. At least my cameras are getting some action. My neighbor on the other hand has been getting numerous mature bucks. I’ll be using this trail camera data along with data from the season to actually compile a buck to doe ratio for our local area. I’ll also write up a report for all my trail camera and harvest findings for the season. This is something that I really enjoy doing for myself and our neighbors. The data and the results are fascinating.

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Nutrition: Post-season deer nutrition can take a number of different forms. Leftover ag fields provide some forage if they are not picked over. Some food plots may still see a little action if they’re not picked over. Supplemental feeding in states that allow is both a way to help your deer herd and to get a good idea of the deer that made it through the season. Be sure to check what your states regulations are if this is something you’re serious about doing. Keep in mind the deer will eat a ton of food this time of year. Another way many hunters often overlook is hinge cutting or even just cutting unwanted trees down to provide natural browse. This is a very effective way to help a struggling deer herd. I’ve just started cutting some cedar branches for the deer to give them a browse boost during this challenging days ahead. This 12 plus inches of snow we’re getting throughout the midwest is going to make things tough for the deer.

Minerals: If you’re state allowed be sure to get your minerals out early. A lot of guys wait until antler growth starts, but providing year round minerals can be quite helpful to your herd.

Food Plots: I’ve gotten excited for food plotting in the spring already. I made numerous food plot seed purchases in preparation for what’s to come.

Predator Control: I haven’t gotten after the predator control efforts this year and I do not plan too. Some of my buddies have taken a few coyotes. I’d recommend hunting or trapping for anyone who wants some hunting to do this time of year. It’ll likely help your deer herd as long as you don’t have too many deer. If you’re blessed enough to take a decent number of coyotes then you’ve really done your herd a favor.

Year Round Learning: The whitetail is a genius of a creature. Take the time to learn about them whenever time allows. I haven’t been reading articles quite like I normally do, but I’ve been rather disciplined about catching up on episodes from my favorite online shows: Midwest WhitetailGrowing Deer TV, and Bowhunting.com. I did spend a good amount of time reviewing some of the new items that were present at the ATA trade show. By far my favorite new gadget is the simple plastic clip to hold Lone Wolf Climbing sticks. What a nice new creation by Lone Wolf.

 

Be sure to count your blessings from the previous season, but also consider seriously what you can be doing to get things ready for the upcoming season. It always comes far faster than you’d think. Most of us will be behind the eight ball when it comes to getting everything ready for the 2015 season.

Reflecting on Two Months of Hunting

Hunting season often seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. Often there is little time to reflect on all that takes place. Between your own stories and the stories you hear from other hunters it all comes at you so fast it’s often hard to sort through it all. Recapping everything is virtually impossible. Boiling two months of a season into one post is far from an easy task. That’s why even a fantastic movie often doesn’t do a great book justice, there just isn’t enough time to boil all the contents of a book into 2 hours of film. Nevertheless here’s my brief attempt to highlight two months of hunting. I could run in a million different directions detailing two months of the whitetail season, but for simplicities sake I’ll zero in on some of my favorite stories from these two months.

I make it a habit to follow all of Bill Winke’s hunts. Winke often think’s through his strategy quite seriously and he does a fine job of documenting it all. Every one of Winke’s hunts can be found at his video blog. Probably the most important tactic or idea I’ve taken away from Winke’s 41 hunts this season is the value of the perfect stand. Winke has docked 15-20 hunts in his Redneck blind that over looks one of his corn food plots. The secret to Winke’s constant success from this blind is his ability to sneak through a CRP field with a cut trail and then sneak past a cedar/tree row for his final hundred yards to this blind. Watching Winke get into this blind without spooking deer is quite remarkable. Equally remarkable is the number of bucks he’s seen from this one tree-stand. Ironically the primary buck he’s been after has yet to show himself since a brief encounter in the early season. Despite Winke’s inability to connect on ‘Lucky’ he sure has had some amazing hunt’s from this redneck blind. I’ve enjoyed watching everything single one of his hunts this season.

Andy Hayes of AllThingsWhitetail took a fantastic Indiana buck after continual habit work with the help of Jim Ward. He posted a brief video of the buck after he recovered that deer. Andy and Jim Ward’s joint work on his property have allowed him to harvest some great Indiana bucks over the past few years. Jim Ward’s tactics and ideas can be found at his Whitetail Academy website. Andy credits much of his success to a water hole that was created for the whitetails on his property to have a place to drink. This allowed him to pinpoint the great ‘Iron Buck’.

Mark Kenyon faced serious adversity after being unable to find ‘Jawbreaker’ early in his Ohio bow hunting season. He’d redeem himself in due time as he took down a fine Ohio buck weeks later. It’s not the lows that define our season. How we as a hunter handle those lows is often what defines our season. For Mark it was his determination to press on that eventually led him to success in Ohio. Read all the details of his Ohio season at wiredtohunt.com. It’s a story well worth your time.

A good buddy of mine Ryan Roberts is free to hunt and free to hunt quite often compared to his previous days of playing college football. Now that his college football days are over he’s hung up the cleats and is putting in his time 20 feet up in in tree. His season had it’s ups and downs, but Ryan found a way to get it done. He worked tirelessly to put his girlfriend on a nice Illinois whitetail while putting in serious amounts of time behind the camera. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned. When it came time for Ryan to take the drivers seat things played out a bit differently, and boy did they play out differently. Ryan Roberts BuckOn November 16th (often considered peak rut) he let an arrow fly to put down a great bow buck. Ryan found great relief to put a buck down a week before the gun season arrived. Just a week later Ryan found his way onto a stud of an eight point during the first Illinois gun season. When the moment of truth arrived he made a shot that would put this bruiser down. It was scouting efforts that led to success on this gun season buck. Ryan had located a great pinch point on a hillside near a creak. After telling me this was a great spot he proved it by capitalizing on his second buck of the season. Thanks to the handy trail camera he knew without a doubt that this was a good spot. Ryan’s feat of putting tags on two nice bucks in one season is no easy task. I guess he didn’t want to be outdone by his dad who accomplished the same feat. What a great season for the Robert’s family. 

Ryan Roberts Buck

My best hunting buddy proved that the early season can be a just as rewarding as those epic rut hunts we all dream of. Just into his 2014 bow season he took down his largest bow buck to date. It was his first sit in a stand we both hung. Jon had the spot all picked out and we snuck in there well before the season to hang the stand. Both Jon and I felt like it was a great spot, but all the credit goes to Jon for picking the right location. The funny thing about this stand is we did our work and trimmed some decent shooting lanes. Yet our failure to bring a pole saw almost proved costly. Somehow Jon made do of the lack of shooting lanes on the path that the buck chose to take and he made the shot of a lifetime. Having climbed into the stand myself to survey the shooting options I still am in awe he pulled off the shot he did. Nonetheless this mid October buck will sit on his wall forever. Congrats to Jon on his largest bow buck to date.

Jon Schaible Buck

Did I do all of these stories justice? Probably not, but the beauty of the hunt truly lies in the eye of the beholder. The one who gets out there and stares down these majestic creatures is the person who truly appreciates the beauty of the hunt. Congrats to all who have had success thus far this season and may lady luck bless those who are still fighting to place their tag on a buck for the wall. There is still time to get it done, it won’t be easy, but hunting is never easy.

 

Epic Bowhunting.com Hunt

Tyler Rector quickly proved to us that the first cold front of the year can deliver much more then just a good hunt, it can deliver a hunt that many hunters only dream of. Tyler nearly get’s settled into his stand and the action begins. Machete (one of his target bucks) shows up rather quickly and works a number of the Tink’s mock scrapes in the area and proceeds to feed in the Heartland Wildlife food plot. The footage is incredible, the shot placement is surgical, and the total number of bucks seen by Tyler is absurd. Tyler explains that he nearly saw all of the bucks he’s had on camera in one hunt. This is the type of hunt that really gets a hunter excited to head out and hope for the absolute best each and every time he enters the woods. Obviously we all know that typically isn’t the case, but this night for Tyler is one of those night’s he’ll never forget. After Tyler shoots the buck check out the footage of Rockstar…that is a fine deer.

View the hunt here at bowhunting.com.

There are a few takeaways from this hunt:

  • Early season cold fronts are perfect recipes for success on mature bucks
  • Tink’s mock scrapes or any mock scrapes for that matter can produce success if done correctly
  • Food sources are dynamite during cold temperatures in the early season

Hopefully you’re able to find a way to beat the October lull and put a buck on the ground in the coming days. I noticed that the full moon on October 8th produced some good buck movement for a day or two. Numerous buddies of mine had successful mature buck sightings during that period. Below are a few nice bucks that surface or were taken during that time frame. Keep an eye on moon cycles, weather patterns, and barometric pressure as you plan your upcoming hunts.

The Art of the Early Season Harvest

Taking a buck in the early season is never easy, but with planning it can be executed rather effectively. The trick is to find a deer that shows some sort of pattern and to capitalize on that movement. If this can be done there may be success to be had, otherwise the early season may be just a waiting game for you. This weekend’s cold front produced some great hunting for many hunters. Deer activity was great, even the mature bucks where on their feet in daylight.

M2E28L88-88R391B305Success stories often litter the internet on a daily basis, here are a few shows that highlight some great successful early season hunts: Bill Winke’s son Drew takes down a mature buck that Winke had all but patterned with good daylight photos. Seth Harker of Growing Deer TV puts down an incredible opening day buck in a food plot. Some of the Drury’s have also put down some nice bucks to start the season as well. Mark and Taylor both harvested mature 8 point bucks very early in the season. Check out the Drury Journal for more details.

A good number of the hunts focused on food to get the job done. Don’t neglect food in the early season, it will often pay dividends. Beyond that aim to target deer that are showing daylight movement patterns. If you stick to these two guidelines your odds for success should improve.

Keep after it in the early season but play the odds and don’t burn out your best spots.

Early Season Success – It’s About the Food.

The whitetail season has kicked off with a bang as always, some guys like myself are still waiting to get going while others are putting down some fine bucks. The early part of the season continues to be about food and that will often result in success if you’re sure to factor food into your stand choices.

Bowhunting.com started their show off quite well as John Herrmann arrowed a fine Wisconsin whitetail. John was well aware of the food source the deer preferred to feed in and he also made note of some oaks that the deer where feeding on in the area. Oaks are a dynamite food source in the early season.

Most notably Mark Drury put down a fine buck on Missouri’s opening day. Mark is one of the best at getting it done early in the season.

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How to hunt over food sources effectively:

  • Keep tabs on those food sources (acorns, fruit trees, alfalfa, corn, ect) to locate a buck, use spotting scopes or cameras to do this, reading sign can also work
  • Play the wind when hunting food sources, whitetails’ are cautious when feeding
  • If you have a mobile stand set-up, place your stand just before you hunt the food source, otherwise hopefully you’ve put your stand in place and have it ready to go, if you desire to hang a stand before the hunt hang the stand around mid-day preferably when it’s raining to minimize scent
  • Move in on a cold evening, it may get that big buck you’re after feeding in daylight, hotter weather may force you to consider hunting a water hole
  • If you’re not hunting on the food, consider hunting in the morning between the food and beds to catch deer on the return, it sure worked for John Hermann of Bowhunting.com
  • You likely won’t get many great opportunities on a food source to capitalize, so do your best to make the first hunt count