By Josh Boyd
As spring turns to summer, and mild weather gives way to stifling heat, deer season often seems an eternity away. In reality, however, archery season in many states is a mere three months away. With the blink of an eye, the days ahead will sail by, leaving many to attempt fitting a summer’s worth of preseason prep work into the few days directly preceding opening day.
On the other hand, those who get a jump on the season by making the most out of the coming months can place themselves in better contention to punch tags and make the most of their time afield. By jumping headlong into any of the following tasks, you will be able to minimize the chaotic preseason rush.
Get a Move on Moving Stands
We all know how tedious it can be to move or hang stands in the week directly proceeding season. It is as if you are walking on eggshells, and the thought of spooking deer in the area weighs heavily on your mind. By moving or hanging stands several months in advance of season, these fears are alleviated, and there is little chance of self-sabotaging your hunting efforts.
When moving treestands in advance of season, the only effort that will be required before opening day is that of fine-tuning shooting lanes, and double-checking straps and other forms of stand rigging. These tasks can be completed in just a few minutes per site, and are much less invasive than conducting the entire stand prep process.
Even the best stand site in the world is of little value if it cannot be accessed and departed from without spooking or pressuring deer. While this might seem like a no-brainer, many hunters fail to consider what obstacles will await them on a trip to the stand, until opening morning arrives.
Winter icing events and spring storms often deposit limbs and other debris along access routes to stand sites. If this has gone unnoticed by a hunter, the first trip to a stand of the season can be an invasive and noisy one, as a myriad of sticks, limbs, and other decaying tree matter are trampled. This can all be avoided if such debris is cleared during the summer months.
Conducting Early Trail Camera Surveys
It is never too early to set up trail cameras in a bid to take stock of how deer are using a given property. By actively monitoring trail cameras for the duration of the summer, a hunter can uncover key details regarding deer movement over a much longer period of time than would be possible if camera use was to be reserved for the days directly proceeding season. This allows a much broader narrative to unfold, giving greater insight into tendencies and patterns.
Early season trail camera use also allows you to make many additional observations, such as that of estimated deer densities, approximate buck-to-doe ratios, and fawn numbers. Additionally, a hunter can also gain early insight into which bucks look to be up-and-comers, worth keeping a close eye on.
Seek Additional Permission
Are you rather limited in regards to the amount of ground that you have to hunt? If so, now is the time to seek out additional opportunities. During the warm summer months, many outdoorsmen and women are thinking more along the lines of bass fishing or camping than bulking up on available land access. By knocking on doors and speaking with landowners now, you will beat many other hunters to the punch.
Another advantage of beginning your quest for additional land access early is that you have plenty of time to move on to plans B, C, etc., should your initial requests be denied. Simply put, you have the potential to converse with many more landowners in 3 months than you do in 3 days.
Practice Makes Perfect
Shooting a bow is like any other activity that relies heavily upon muscle memory to find consistent success. Without regular practice, you become rusty. We owe it to the game which we hunt to stay in practice, and sharpen our abilities. This not only prepares us for the moment of truth, but better enables us to make a clean and ethical kill under any set of circumstances.
Leaving your bow in its case all year long, until the week before season, is similar in nature to never riding a bike until the week before taking part in a 10-mile road race. By shooting your bow a minimum of 2-3 times a week for the duration of the summer, you will be in peak form, both mentally and physically, to go afield with bow in hand.
Getting a Jump on Success
Much of the road to deer hunting success begins long before the sun peaks above the horizon on opening morning. By getting a jump start on the season to come, well in advance of going afield, you can prevent the missteps that often accompany hastily made preparations. As a result, you will have done your part to ready yourself for a deer season like none you have ever experienced before.