Deer Hunting: Early Season Tips

The season has finally arrived, the wait is over. I got my first hunt in on our farm this past weekend—in a monsoon. Many hunters will wait out the less than desirable conditions until the weather cools (or in my case, dries) and the rut kicks in before they really make their press for whitetail glory. But success can be had in the early season.

Entrance and Exit Strategy

Nothing can kill a hunt before it gets started like a poor entrance strategy. Being aware of where deer are bedding and feeding when entering your stand and how the wind is carrying your scent is critical. Ditches and creeks are ideal choices for entrance and exits to and from stand locations. If hunting a field, try using standing crops as a visual shield between you and the deer and have a buddy pick you up in his truck if possible. Deer don’t seem to equate vehicles with human pressure, especially in farmland where vehicle noise and motion is frequent.

Hunt Food

Know where your food sources are. This time of year there is plenty of browse, but deer will still hit the areas where they can get the best nutrition. Agriculture fields are still a good bet as deer are typically following their food to bedding pattern in the early season. Don’t forget about acorns. Deer will pass up other food sources once acorns begin to drop, especially white oak. A good acorn crop will keep bucks in cover of the timber. Once acorns begin to drop, find a white oak near a known travel route. This spot is a good bet to see deer movement.

Limit Morning Hunts

This is a tip I struggle to follow as I want to be in the woods as much as possible, but morning hunts in the early season can be a risky proposition. During this portion of the season, deer are usually long gone back to their bedding before you ever hit the timber. To hunt a morning you should really have bulletproof information from cameras, or scouting, telling you to be in a stand on a given morning. If you are planning to hunt a morning, make sure you know conditions are just right for your stand location. Otherwise, you are educating deer of your presence and hurting your chances for good daylight movement as the season progresses.

Follow Your Information

This seems like a simple one, but we hunters often outthink ourselves and fall victim to analysis paralysis. You’ve spent the offseason placing trail cams and scouting; now is the time to trust all the information you’ve gathered. Be decisive and deliberate in your efforts and don’t be afraid to make aggressive moves when weather conditions and your information are telling you the risk is worth the potential reward.

Have Fun

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the chase that we forget why we started hunting in the first place…it’s fun! A day in the outdoors spent in a stand is a day well spent. If you’re having a slow hunt, breathe in the clean air and remember how fortunate we are as hunters to be able to experience the thrill of the hunt and freedom most only wish they could feel. It really is an awesome experience. So just get out there and enjoy!