5 Things To Do Before Early Season Bow Hunting
Feature: Team Radical
The mad end-of-summer scrabble to prepare for hunting season is upon us. Perhaps you just have not had the time to prepare in the ways you really would like to, right? Between self-doubt and endless social media pressure from other “prepared” hunters, you are most likely thinking that you are no doubt a terrible hunter. That simply isn’t true. The rest of the offseason still offers plenty of time to correct your mistake. To help you along here are five things you need to do before early season bow hunting!
#1 Plant Fall Food Plots
Fall food plots can be planted in the remaining few weeks leading up to the season with great success. Forage like planting oats creates kill plots which help increase your chance of success. Plan for cool season forages like brassicas, which have turnips, and peas that will be able to grow quickly in the waning days of summer but provide peak nutrition in the heart of hunting season. Planting a fall food plot is best done in tight quarters. Plan for the shot you want and plant for it. Find smaller areas less than three acres in size to lay down seed. The purpose of a fall plot for the specific intention of killing your target buck is to provide him with a sense of security. Big bucks thrive on security and can be enticed to revealing themselves in daylight if the right combination of food and cover are present. Maximizing edge cover, pinch points, and food plot shapes with your fall food plots inevitably make for great bow hunting plots!
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#2 Developing a Hit-List
Building history with your deer helps in the long run. Building your hit-list is key to success as a property manager as it allows you to hunt with a purpose. Instead of hunting of any deer that walks by, learning to zero in on specific bucks in their areas is not only beneficial for the herd but increases your skills as a hunter. Learning to break down an area to the few hundred yards a mature buck calls home is a journey that may take several years. Keeping a journal of movement, encounters and a well-stocked hard drive of trail camera shots can help you build your target list each season.
Trail cameras are key to building an effective hit-list. If your state allows mineral and protein supplemental feeding through the summer you should not hesitate. This is the easiest way to see what deer are on your property. Place your supplements five to ten yards from the camera and ensure the angle of the camera is level to capture the action. Set the camera to a 5-minute interval, with a 3 photo burst. This will ensure a proper portrait of any buck without taking too many pictures of does feeding. Check your cameras sparingly as the season approaches so as to not spook any mature bucks from the area. Always wear rubber boots, use rubber gloves and spray yourself down with scent killer before checking cameras to reduce the amount of scent left in the area! Study behavior, antlers, characteristics, and of course any weaknesses a buck may reveal. Also be sure to age the buck on the hoof to see whether or not he fits your harvest goals. If the moment comes to pass on a 3.5-year-old, you best be sure he is a 3.5-year-old and not 4.5! Check out the video below for some early season action, and a buck that just didn’t make the hit-list for Dr. Grant Woods of GrowingDeer.TV!
#3 Bow Practice
Practice makes perfect and as an effective predator, you should always strive to prepare for that one shot in your uniform to have an understanding of how your clothing choices may or may not impact the shot. You see professional football players practicing in their pads constantly. So why should you not prepare in your gear as well? Early season clothing in easier to adjust to, unlike late season clothing that is much bulkier. Clothing for bowhunting in the early season revolves around scent killing base layers. Having a base layer that can wick sweat away from your skin will help increase your chances of getting close to a wary buck. Early season shots must also be practiced for. Fortunately, in the late summer foliage you can replicate tough practice shots in the dense underbrush you will likely need to shoot through in the first weeks of the season. Work on shooting at your target through a small opening in the leaves to prepare yourself to overcome the impending target panic of having to sneak an arrow through perhaps just a small opening at what small section of vitals you may have
#4 Make Your Broadhead Selection
Broadhead section for bow hunting early season bucks should be no different from what you should choose for the entire year. The new DeadMeat expandable broadhead from G5 gives you peace of mind that your expandable will stay shut upon drawing and expanding upon impact. If you choose to hunt with fixed blade broadheads it is imperative to make sure the arrows and broadheads are properly tuned to each other and the bow. While this may sound like common knowledge, any imperfections such as limb deletions, bad cam timing, improper twists in the strings can be magnified and reveal themselves when you can’t find consistency with your fixed blade heads. Scrutinizing the work of your archery tech to ensure quality may be a bit awkward, but what is worse, telling someone to redo the work or miss the biggest buck of your life three months later? You choose!
The new DeadMeat Broadhead accompanied with the Ballistic Match Point (B.M.P) allows you to practice with a field point, yet remain tuned for a broadhead. This saves you plenty of foam in your target, and saves the sharp broadhead for your hit-list buck!
#5 Decide on Stand Locations
As you scour maps and plan your food plots, hang your cameras, you should have a good idea of where to place stands as well. Remember, early in the season a big buck is going to move as close to darkness as they can. They may travel incredible distances to and from their sanctuary bedding to the food. It only takes a bit of pressure early in the season to bump a big buck from his core area. Find the paths to and from food and plan to set a stand further down the travel corridor in order to catch a big buck on his feet going to get dinner. These staging locations are often overlooked by many hunters all in the name of sitting over a nice food plot. Some of the best early season bow hunting stand locations are not visually pleasing.
You should base an early season stand location on three elements:
1) Distance from a buck’s bedding area.
2) The cover on the travel route to food.
3) Where the prevailing winds blow.
Hang stands in the middle of the day as quietly as possible in order to avoid bumping your buck from his location.
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Early season bow hunting can be the best time to kill a mature deer as they are still fairly unsuspecting after a summer of not being pressured. However, with each passing day, the difficulty to kill your target buck decreases as the hunting pressure increases. Planning to kill a big buck takes a bit of extra work in the early season, but the rewards for planning a precise strategy based on the information you gather from scouting make it worth while.