Not many people realize how much work goes into preparing hunting season! Honestly, I didn’t even know. There are many great tips and tricks out there for preseason or early preparation for hunting season, we thought we’d gather the best in one spot for you! We will separate these tips into four main categories: Deer Attractants, Tree Stands & Blinds, Scouting, and Gun & Bow Preparation. We know deer are very perceptive, so they can pick up on the smallest things. For a good hunter, the devil is in the details.
Many people believe in sitting quietly and waiting patiently to get their buck. In all honesty though, deer attractants can make you a more successful hunter when used properly. There are a few attractants that we highly suggest.
- Deer feeders are helpful in helping your direct deer to your hunting area. This only works if deer feeders are placed out during pre-season (spring or late summer), because it is a method of training a deer’s habits. To set a feeder up, choose a spot with an already natural food source. Place the feeder in a clearing and schedule regular feedings during the entire pre-season. Over time, deer will create a habit to move into this area for feeding. With your hunting spot set up there, you will have an increased chance of getting your target. Check out our selection of feeders here.
- When legal, deer attractant is good in moderation! Attractants, such as spray and urine, often bring bucks past you that may not have prior. As I said, attractants are a good technique if moderated, because deer’s noses are sensitive so too much scent will spook them. Also, deer have begun to make the connection between human pressure and scent overuse so they will be scared off because of that reason as well. Just be cautious, and only use a drop or two.
Deer Calls & Decoys:
- During the pre-rut and rut of deer season are the best times for calling and decoys. Different calls include grunt and doe bleat calls, rattling bags, boxes, and antlers. Again, don’t overdo it when it comes to this attractant. Deer do not really call that often, and calling too much can spook them so use it wisely. Never call a buck that is already heading towards you, it is unnecessary action. Decoys are used best during rut season, because they can drive a rutting deer wild! Just be smart with how you position them. It is best to get an understanding of where doe already gravitate towards in your area.
TREE STANDS & BLINDS:
Tree stands and natural blinds are the best way to ambush a deer, again when used properly. To find the best spots for your tree stand and blind, you must do your research – scouting, weather reports, and past experience at sites. Set your stands based on recent scouting and in areas that have produced well within the past couple of years, but no more. Deer can feel human pressure, and so overhunting an area will harm your chances. Here are some other great tips for setting up:
- Set your tree stands and hunting blinds at least two months prior to hunting season to make them a common fixture in the area. Also, setting them up during hunting season is a sure fire way of scaring potential bucks away.
- The best set up spots are amongst small clusters of trees and off the skyline. Trim branches and twig away to create only a clear shooting window for yourself. Don’t cut too much of the coverage away though because branches and twigs help conceal you from a sharp-eyed doe.
- To get to your tree stand, use different routes so that deer can never pattern you.
- When in a tree stand, never not wear a fall-restraint device. Not wearing one is a great way to not only cripple yourself but possibly kill yourself. To put it simply, it’s never a safe choice.
- If you have done your research of the area and know the way bucks will travel, set your stand up behind the truck so to give you additional coverage.
- Also, if you know several trails that deer move into the area on, use hinge cutting to manipulate their travel routes. Cut and pull small trees in front of a few of the trails to force deer to come a certain route.
- As for yourself in the tree blind, take caution to remove any distinct scents and dress to camouflage.
- Launder your outwear in unscented detergent
- Shower before each stand shift with unscented soap & shampoo
- Dress on site or just outside your vehicle
- Wear rubber boots (rubber does not hold scents like other materials)
- Spray yourself and gear liberally with scent-eliminating spray (natural to your geographic area) just prior to climbing in the stand
- Use breath spray. Take precautions also with wind direction!
- Check the winds with a bottled powder or piece of thread.
- Always place your tree stands to play the prevailing wind, and if possible, set multiple stand sites for all different wind directions.
- Wear a facemask or apply face paint. Surprisingly, deer know the shape of a human face.
- Use camouflage tape to mask any shiny equipment.
When you are scouting an area, some great things to key into are big tracks, old buck rub lines and deer scrapes, bedding thickets, and travel routes between bedding areas & feeding areas. If you look out for these you will be bound to find a great hunting area. Here are some other great tips to take into account:
- Shed Hunting will give you an idea of their core area.
- Check south facing ridges because deer like to lay here in early spring.
- Check around the thicker cover of ditches, river bottoms, and creek banks. Overgrowth can knock a loose antler off.
- Check fence and ditch crossings, basically anywhere a buck has to jump is a good place to find a shed that was jolted loose.
- Use game cameras! Game cameras definitely give you an upper hand.
- Check out our game camera selection here.
- Set game cameras facing north to prevent the glare of the sun in your shots.
- Don’t over-check your cameras and risk pressuring a buck.
- Don’t forget to bring an extra memory card, and batteries when checking your camera.
- Hunt the thicker areas of your territory. Big bucks love heavy cover.
- In late season, hunt the open water when it gets cold as normal water access points have begun to freeze over.
- Besides these tips for location indicators, remember bucks are tough to pattern during the deer rut so ultimately the best place to find them is between a known doe bedding area and doe feeding area. It is a fact that most mature trophy bucks are more frequent in these areas between 10am and 2pm.
GUN & BOW PREPERATION
- Practice with your weapon of choice. This not only helps you perfect your aim, but also helps you find out any issues that need to be attended to, such as repairs or needed cleaning.
- With a bow, practice shooting longer ranges so that you feel more confident in your shorter ranges out during the hunt.
- Bring binoculars along. Do not rely on your scope. Waving a rifle around draws more attention to yourself than is desired, and is simply unsafe.
- From an elevated stand, come to full draw while standing straight up then bend at the waist to bring the pin down onto the target. Never start out bended and then draw. This increase your chances of a bad shot.
- When shooting most standard whitetail cartridges, sight up your hunt dead-on at 200 yard. The most common mistake is to shoot too high.
Take all of these tips into consideration while you are preparing for your long days ahead in the brush. You don’t want to come up short with all the effort, time, and money that you are already putting into hunting season.
Finally, the NUMBER ONE TIP for any hunter is to NEVER over-hunt your stand or blind. Pressure is the number one reason hunters do not catch their trophy buck.
Have a great season, and good luck to all of you!!