The early start of the archery season on Monday is new this season and from the reports I am getting, most hunters are looking forward to spending a few extra days in a treestand.
As hunters, we attempt to understand as much about our hunting ground as humanly possible. In today's world, hunters have more tools to work with to help us become a better hunter. With a wide array of scouting tools available, it's easy to become what I call a "lazy boy scouter.''
From computerized topo maps to GPSs, today's hunters can really fine-tune their hunting game plans. But there is still nothing better than good old-fashioned get-out-of-the-house legwork.
Over the years I have uncovered more information and knowledge about a hunting area while following a blood trail. Once an animal is hit, it generally heads toward its "safe area." That could be bedding or core areas where they spend the majority of the time and it's were they let their guard down. It's were they feel safe.
While the season is here it's never to late to fine tune your hunting areas and uncover that special "honey hole."
Now before we all run out and going beating the bush, remember the recent weather changes have started to put deer in their fall mode a little early. In fact, I have seen more hard mast on the ground early this season than anytime in recent memory. What that means is I am not 100 per cent sure, but one would have to believe that will affect the way deer travel and spend their waking hours. An oldtimer once told me, "When the mast crop falls early, a hard winter is coming."
Whitetail hunters over the years have used various versions of scouting. Preseason scouting has gone into the high tech with digital cameras that take photos of game in the area where the camera is placed and replaces old-fashioned legwork. Of course, I still prefer the old tried-and-true ways of scouting with a topographical map and legwork, but I do use "trail cameras'' to fine tune deer travel patterns and to see just what is strolling around my setups when I am not there. To be successful day in and day out, a hunter must do his homework throughout the year.
It looks like this year should be a good one for setting up on food sources. From what I have seen, our main areas are filled with acorns and wild apples. On the downside, the hot summer we experienced this year has forced some farmers to start cutting earlier.
Don't let this stop you from setting up close to these food sources.
It seems that no matter where one looks in the woods, there is plenty of deer sign. The key is knowing where to set up a stand and knowing when to use it.
You can have the straightest arrows, the sharpest broad heads, the finest camo, the most secure and safest treestand and hit a quarter at 20 yards with your state-of-the-art bow, but if the deer are not where you are, then all is for naught.
Picking out a stand location is a personal thing. I have hunted with guys that will not place a stand less than 15 feet off the ground. I have also seen hunters who do not want to be no more than 10 feet off the ground.
Some hunters will only hunt out of particular kinds of trees. Others will only hunt over corn or alfalfa fields and some look for mast crops to hunt over.
All of these set-ups work great during certain times of the season. Being bull-headed to a given idea isn't going to fill your tags. If anything I say doesn't sink in, hear me on this. Be a flexible hunter. Move to where the deer are moving. If for some reason deer are moving on the other side of the field or stand of pines, move to where the deer are.
Preseason scouting should be just as much a part of hunting as shooting your bow. There is no article or video on the market that is going to give you first-hand knowledge of your hunting area. The only way to get that knowledge is get off your couch and walk the woods.
I have long said that while I scout, I carry a notebook That book is my bible and then I transfer the information to my computer. I always check it before I set foot in the woods. In this little black book I keep records such as wind direction, stand location, scrape lines, mast crop, success in the past and daily reports. I strongly suggest that any and all serious hunters keep a hunting journal.
The older I get the more important this black hunting bible is. In years past, my journal has helped me remember many important facts that I would have forgotten.
No matter where you set up, make sure to check the wind. Nothing will mess up a stand more than if a deer gets wind of you. That can happen while on the stand or when you walk to and from your stand. Always wear scent-free clothing and barn-style boots. The difference high boot's make is unbelievable.
Move around during archery season. Successful hunters should have a bunch of stands up or areas where you can put a stand without much trouble.
One of the most asked questions I get is, "How long or how many times do I sit a stand?" I never put my clients or myself on a stand that has been used for a full hunted day. If I hunt a stand in the afternoon, I will hunt it the next morning. Never, ever will I hunt it after two such sittings. We'll let that stand "res'' for four to five days before I ever think about hunting that same stand again.
This rule never gets broken. Past experience has taught me hunters will see more deer during the first sitting than another time.
There are many things that run through our minds when we are climbing a tree - wind, equipment, scent control and much more. The most important thing that we must never forget is safety. Use a four-point climbing-safety system.