Summer Essentials for Fall Whitetail Success
10 things to do right now to make this upcoming season your best yet!
Whether it be a presentation, sporting event, job interview, or in this case a hunting season, much of success boils down to preparation. Period. I firmly believe the extent to which you prepare, you will find success, and that as much as 90% of success is based on it. Many times, however, we hunters underestimate this critical success principle and suffer the predictable consequences (mediocre success, frustration, and further complaining). Good news is, regardless of past habits or experience level, you can start leveraging the preparation principle to your benefit right now. So here are ten summer essentials to help make this fall possibly your best whitetail hunting season yet!
Before I dive into this I will say each person may have a different list of top 10 essentials. This is what I will be focusing on this summer, and what I feel will give me the best results with my particular hunting situation. Keep this in mind, and the fact that every hunter’s situation is different. Nevertheless, I think you too will benefit from these practices.
Plant the Plots: Yes, everybody talks about them, maybe too much, but now’s the time to get them set. Having a high quality food source is a major factor to drawing, keeping, and seeing whitetail in your area. They don’t have to be huge or require a lot of expensive equipment to be effective either. Just turning over a little soil, and scratching in some no-till mix will be much better than nothing. Get them set this summer and give whitetail a reason to be hanging around your stand come fall!
Equip Equipment: Preparing equipment is not something to be done the night before opening day, or on your way out the door to hunt. This takes time, attention to detail, and should be done months in advance. What if your stand has a faulty component? You need adequate time to fix this, and any other issue you may find. Go over gear with a fine tooth comb and make sure all is working in prime condition. Check for safety, charge all batteries, sound-proof all your plastic and metal so you don’t have to think about this at gametime. (To sound-proof all your gear with Buck Bumper CLICK HERE ). Equip your equipment now for success!
Take Inventory: This can be a very exciting time of year, one where bucks literally grow right before your eyes. Use trail cameras on field edges and food sources (places with easy access and no intrusion) and start watching the antler grow! Keep a journal of bucks, where they show, what you feel their home range is now while they are highly visible from the road and other easy access points. Yes, they will change patterns come fall, but will be close to the area, and when pressure is on may return. The point here is learning the animals you may be hunting, and learning any quirky thing you can about them that will give you an edge if they show back up in a few months.
Acquire New Spots: It’s so easy to get lazy, and just sit back on the couple decent spots you have to hunt, but now’s the time to do the opposite. Hit the back roads, explore new public land locations, and knock on doors to maximize your options this fall. You never know when a spot will go dead, or get hot, and the more options you have during season the more chances at success you have. Competition is high, so get on it now or someone else will be sitting in the honey hole spot instead of you!
Re-secure Permissions: At the same time, don’t assume the farmer up the road that allowed you to hunt the last ten years, will automatically this year. Make effort to visit, maybe do some work around the place, and re-ask permission for this hunting season. Make them want to keep you around, and make sure it is still fine to hunt all your properties this coming season. I’ve known hunters left high and dry due to having a property leased out from under them. Don’t let it happen to you, don’t make assumptions, re-secure permissions!
Set Up Camp: One of the most exciting parts of hunting for me is anticipation, and planning. If you do not participate in a “hunting camp,” I highly suggest the idea of starting one. This is easy to do with family and friends, makes great memories, and really adds excitement to the season. Planning meals, who’s bringing the tent, reminiscing on how Uncle Joe destroyed the outhouse back in ‘02, and yes some good deer taken can really take a good season and make it a great one. Get this tradition started now by setting up some camp plans!
Ditch 2D: Shooting a good 3D course might be nonessential to many, but it is definitely on my list, and I know makes for better hunters. First, there’s the excitement of an event with a bunch of other hunters all competing to do their best (making you tighten up your skills so you don’t embarrass yourself). Second, the realistic situations and shots on life-like targets prepare you in ways that flinging arrows at a bail of hay just cannot. It really forces you to get a better grasp on your equipment, and helps mentally prepare you for moment-of-truth type scenarios. Shoot a 3D course this summer!
Finalize Trips: Are you taking any trips this fall? Near or far, many of us will. Make sure to finalize these plans so you have no surprises when you’re ready to hit the road in November. Landowners appreciate knowing when you will show up, and it also is a good time to secure that time off work well before anyone else may (some jobs limit numbers of people on leave at one time, and may deny you if you wait). If you’re using an outfitter, take a few moments to confirm your payment, dates, and reservations, making sure these align with your time off work. Mistakes happen, we’ve all heard these stories, so finalize your trips so you don’t become one of them!
Map Out Routes: This what I feel is the #1 mistake of hunters. Not carefully mapping out entry and exit routes ahead of time. Analyze, brush, and plan out how you will get into and out of each location you plan to hunt or all your prep will be for nothing. If you overlook this, you can expect to spook deer, increase hunting pressure, and help the neighbors shoot that buck you’re after. Also, a stand may be placed or brushed-in differently depending on the time of year you plan to hunt it. Get this set in the field now, so come hunting time all you have to do is get in and hunt via your carefully planned, extra stealthy, mapped out route!
Set Realistic Goals: It’s hard to hit a target if you don’t even know what you’re aiming at. It’s also hard to hit a target that doesn’t exist. Setting goals for your season (age class, number, desired locations to harvest deer, etc.) is a good idea and helps put a target in front of you. It helps clarify what you will and will not accept, and helps you say no when you should pass, and yes when that right buck steps into sight. However, don’t allow someone else’s goals to become yours. You have to know your land, your hunting opportunities, and set realistic goals for YOU. Don’t get hung up on watching 150+ inch Iowa bucks on TV and expect to have that on your ten acre parcel in Pennsylvania (that is unless you know you have that buck hanging around). Goals are good, when they work for, not against you, so set realistic ones!
So leverage these ten summer essentials, and you just may create your best fall yet!
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