By Cole Daniels
I often hear hunters say they’re going to wait to hunt until the hunting gets really good. They’re waiting for rut hunts in hopes of all day deer action. Those kind of hunts are a lot of fun because you never really know what is going to happen next. But hunters who wait may be passing up on a golden chance at bagging a bruiser buck. Early season doesn’t have the reputation that rut hunting has but it may be the best part of the season if you’re willing to put some work into it. Here are five great tips for early season whitetails.
Hunt The Right Bucks
Game cameras are no longer a luxury item. Prices have dropped considerably and now just about everyone can afford a quality scouting camera. As summer fades into fall hunters get excited when they find photos of top heavy bucks on their trail cameras. The problem is many of those photos are night time shots. Early season bucks are creatures of habit. If they’re passing by your camera in the middle of the night in August, that is probably when they will pass by in September. Having nice deer on your property is a great sign. However, find a deer that is visiting your camera site during daylight hours and you have yourself a target deer for early season hunting.
It seems like just about every big buck in the woods follows a smaller one before exposing himself. There is a reason for that. Most hunters will shoot the first antlered buck they see. That big boy uses smaller deer to test the waters. Setting a few decoys in front of your stand creates confidence that all is well in a field. Set your decoys upwind and wait for deer to emerge from the shadows.
Hunt Rub Lines In The Morning
Just about everybody bowhunts in the evenings during early bow season. The after work hunt is kind of a tradition in many deer hunting havens. But mornings can be very productive too. The same spots you hunt in the evening won’t be any good in the morning. Fields will be full of deer feeding under the cover of darkness as you head to the stand. Instead, enter the woods and hunt rub lines. Bucks often work rub lines early in the morning as they return from feeding.
Most bowhunters set their stands well ahead of the season. But keep in mind a bean field can go from the hot ticket to a ghost town as soon as the beans start to turn yellow. A corn field that has a few deer working it can turn into Grand Central Station at harvest time. A ground blind or a climbing stand can allow you to move into a spot at the most opportune times.
When hunting during the rut, time spent in the stand is vital. Bucks are on their feet and moving. Being in a position to kill them is the key to success. There are certainly spots that are better than others but it is difficult and maybe impossible to pattern a rutting buck. During early season, bucks are more schedule oriented and are driven by their bellies. Instead of hunting hard, you may be better off to hunt smart. Don’t spend every available night in a tree. Scout your property from afar and take note of what fields are being hit the hardest and where deer are entering and leaving fields. It may seem counterproductive, but your rate of success will increase exponentially.