Thousands of Summer giants fall to successful early bow season hunters every single year; will you be one of them? Whether you connect or not each season, can either determined by the lower odds of luck or the higher odds of a strategically defined plan of attack. Here is a set of early bow season tips that you can use to tilt the odds in your favor this year:
1. Early Bow Season Stand Locations
Although there is a way to effectively hang a bow season during any time of the year, earlier is typically better to a point. When I can actually prioritize the time, I like to set my stands so that the signs of clearing shooting lanes are brown, crisp and dead by the time I hunt. That typically means an August 1st cut-off in most areas. By the time a mature buck moves into his preferred Fall habitat closer to October 1st, he shouldn't be able to tell if the changes to the area were completed during late Winter, or mid Summer. As long as the cut limbs and brush have completely died, it will all look the same to a mature Fall giant
2. Shoot, and Shoot Often
I actually experienced some years where I spent so much time planting plots, installing treestands, setting game cams and cutting habitat improvements that my shooting time took a back seat. It was a slow progression, but eventually my shooting skills began to suffer. Shooting early and often will not only make sure your muscles are in shape, but it will give you time to work on any inconsistencies in shooting form, or symptoms of target panic.
*Is your bow season shooting form in top shape? Check out these poor-form solutions by reading, "How To Cure Target Panic".
3. Defined and Enhanced Bedding to Feeding Deer Movements
In order to consistently connect on a mature buck during the early season you have to know exactly where he beds during the day, feeds at night, and how he gets there and back. Recognizing the natural lay of the land and both quality feeding and bedding areas is the first step, but there are also ways to increase your odds! Mineral stations, waterholes and mock scrapes can all be used to make sure that the patterns of use you are hunting are established early, often and consistently throughout the entire hunting season.
4. No Scent, Sound or Site Hunter Access
If the local deer herd can smell you, hear you or see you while you access your early bow season stands, than it will be nearly impossible to run into a mature buck. Only improving the habitat in areas that you do not expect to access through during hunting season is an important practice, but so is making sure that your access trails are clutter free and quiet. Your goal should be to get in and out of your hunting stands while leaving as little hunting pressure behind as possible.
*Do you follow an effective scent control strategy? Check out these critical season saving tips by reading, "Scent Control For Deer".
5. Quiet Treestand Climbs
Of it creaks, tings, pops or squeaks I suggest you fix it or get rid of it. Your stand location should be the closest you get to spooking any deer. When you make a successful stalk to your stand, the last thing you want to do is announce to the woods that you have arrived. Is a climber appropriate for these conditions? I think so, as long as the access is quiet, limbs are pre cut and your climb is dead quiet.
6. Downwind Scent Blockers
When you get the entire movement figured out, you have enhanced the movement and entered your stand with the prowess of an elusive cat; where is your scent blowing? Scent control starts with your stand location. During an early bow season hunt you often have to allow many deer to pass before a mature buck travels by, so it is vital that you can blow your scent into a non-deer area. My favorite deerless areas are steep terrain features, waterways, roads, houses, open fields and mature, opens forests.
*Check out where you should Sit All Day, depending on the time of day and season.
7. Evening Early Season Sit Priority
During the rut I like to place a premium on morning stands but this is not the case during early bow season, October Lull or Kate season, where mature bucks are often already in their bedding areas well before daylight. However after sitting all day away from high quality food sources, all deer in general can be counted on to move to their evening food sources with precision. Many evening mature buck opportunities are spoiled due to ill-timed morning hunt. If any portion of the line of deer movement (from bedding to Feeding and back again) is spooked, than the opportunity is over no matter how far the bedding and feeding areas are located from one another.
If you can hunt a morning stand without hindering a high quality evening hunt than by all means; go for it! But during the early bow season a hunter should never risk a low value morning sit at the expense if a high value evening sit.
*Choosing when to hunt which stand becomes even more complex the more options that you have. To makes sense of which stand to hunt for the conditions of time of season and time of day, please read "Spook Proof Deer Rotation Guide".
8. Predatory Trail Cam Use
Many potential sits are hindered each year by trail cam overuse. I rely on trail cams to a great degree for my mature buck hunting efforts, but I am very careful to not add additional pressure to the lines of deer movement on the lands that I hunt. Changing SD cards while accessing bow stands, nighttime social area placement and cell cams are all ways to use trail cams as non invasively as possible.
9. Leave Your Treestand Alone
After your strategy is set, leave it alone! There is nothing better than a high quality early bow season set that has been allowed to age like a fine wine, after weeks of absolutely zero human pressure. Often hunter activity peaks as opening day approaches, so it pays to be one of the few hunters in the area who's preparation activities are actually decreasing as the season draws near, instead of increasing.
*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series including, "Whitetail Success By Design" and "Food Plot Success By Design", to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!
10. Defined Hunting Opportunity
If it is warm, hot and windy try waiting for the conditions to improve. Instead of forcing a sit while being controlled by the whims of the weather, try using those same poor conditions to set up the incredible opportunities that will follow shortly behind.
Would you believe I know a lot if hunter who skip the early bow season in favor if the rut? The early season can be one of the best times to harvest a monster with a defined plan of attack. It takes patience and careful planning, but it can be done! Do you have a Summer giant in mind? Make sure that you don't skip out on this once in a season opportunity, for a precision sit in your favorite bow stand.