Early season bowhunting can be a crap shoot. Some people enjoy hunting deer that don’t know they’re being hunted yet and are very successful in the early days of the season. Other hunters spend September fishing or tending to food plots and wait until deer get motivated to procreate before they climb into a treestand. There are some benefits to early season hunting. Bucks are often still in bachelor groups and tend to be driven by their appetites. This makes them a little easier to pattern. If you don’t mind swatting a few mosquitos and wiping the sweat off your brow, read on. Here are three tips for early season bowhunting.
Create Mock Trails & Scrapes
If you walk through the woods in early September, you will notice it looks far different than it will in November. The understory is still thick with lush understory. This provides deer with more cover and food, but it also makes it a little more difficult to move through the woods for you and for deer. Creating trails through thick areas is a good way to artificially funnel bucks to your stand site. Just putting in a trail anywhere in the woods isn’t going to be successful. Politicians are often criticized for “Bridge to Nowhere” road building projects. Creating deer trails work the same way. Be sure your trails lead through bedding areas and into known feeding zones. Obviously, this is a project that needs to be started well before the season begins.
Put Your Cameras To Work
Big buck stories often start with “this is the first time we’ve ever seen this buck.” Those deer are usually killed during the rut when whitetails cover long distances to find hot does. Early season deer hunting is a different story. Most deer hold pretty tight to their own territory. Often times they seem almost ritualistic. A friend of mine had a mature buck passing by his camera site at about the same time every day for nearly two weeks before opening day. He climbed into his stand three hours before the golden hour on opening day and sure enough, the giant walked by on schedule. Big deer aren’t usually that predictable and will change patterns based on changes in preferred food sources. But an effective camera strategy can tip the odds in your favor.
Early Season Haunts
Some locations are traditional hotspots for early season bucks. Getting your stand in these areas will be a big advantage to anyone trying to tagging a September buck. Food sources such as green fields, soybean fields, and fruit tree orchards can be highly productive. Water sources are excellent hunting spots in the early season, especially when it is hot and dry. As the season progresses your stands should start moving away from open areas and closer to bedding areas and isolated staging areas.
Early season bowhunting can be downright miserable if temperatures have deer laying low during daylight hours. However, being ready to capitalize on early season patterns will put you on the deer and keep you in your stand. Before heading to the woods invest in a ThermaCell and some lightweight hunting clothing.