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The early season is a thrilling time for bowhunters, offering unique opportunities to capitalize on the relaxed patterns of deer and the abundance of food sources. Are you ready to unlock the secrets of early season bowhunting? In this blog post, we’ll explore various strategies, tips, and tactics to help you master early season hunting and increase your chances of tagging that dream buck.
Gain an understanding of early season bowhunting to capitalize on higher chances of success.
Scout and prepare pre-season, adapt to weather & environmental conditions, understand deer herd behavior for successful hunting.
Utilize private/public land strategies with deer calls & rattling techniques for a successful hunt.
What is Early Season Bowhunting?
Early season deer hunting, also known as early bow season or early archery season, is an exciting period before the rut that offers several advantages over other times of the year. During this time, deer are typically still in their summer patterns and less impacted by hunters, making them easier to predict and providing you with higher chances of success.
Capitalizing on early season opportunities requires a solid understanding of deer behavior, scouting, and adapting to ever-changing conditions. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the early season period, its importance, and how to make the most of it.
Defining Early Season
Early season hunting, especially during deer hunting seasons, is a fantastic opportunity to hunt bucks that have not been pressured much and are typically still on a predicable bed to food pattern. During this time in the season the weather is typically warmer and can be pleasant compared to hunting in the frigid temps during the late season.
Hunting during the early season presents numerous benefits, such as fewer hunters in the field, more predictable deer behavior, which can increase your chances of success.
Moreover, having a mobile and flexible hunting strategy is essential during the early season. Staying mobile allows you to quickly move and set up new positions as the deer patterns and sign shifts.
Key Factors for Successful Early Season Bowhunting
To make the most of the early season, it’s essential to focus on three key factors:
Understanding deer behavior
Scouting and pre-season preparation
Adapting to weather and environmental conditions
By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these factors, you’ll be better prepared to make calculated decisions and maximize your chances of success.
Know Your Deer Herd
Knowing your deer herd and their habits is crucial for successful early season hunting. By understanding their behavior, movements, and preferred food sources, you can increase your chances of tagging a mature buck. Observing fields while deer emerge to feed is a classic strategy for taking inventory of mature bucks in the area, including spotting a mature buck.
Scouting and Pre-Season Preparation
Scouting and pre-season preparation also play a vital role in early season hunting success. For efficient scouting, utilize trail cameras and glass food sources from a distance. By keeping your distance you are less likely to alert the deer to your presence which could chance their patterns.
To increase the odds of a successful hunt, it’s essential to put in the work before the season starts. This includes identifying potential stand locations, food sources, and bedding areas to have a solid hunting strategy in place for opening day.
Adapting to Weather and Environmental Conditions
Adapting to changing weather and environmental conditions is another crucial factor in early season hunting success. Here are some tips to consider.
Hunt during cold fronts to increase deer activity and chances of success, as deer tend to be more active during cooler temperatures.
Strategically adjust stand locations to capitalize on food availability.
Be aware of the wind direction to avoid alerting deer to your presence.
Following these tips can enhance your chances of a successful hunt.
Early Season Food Sources and Feeding Patterns
Understanding early season food sources and deer feeding patterns is essential for successful hunting.
Some potential early season food sources and feeding patterns to look out for include:
Agricultural Fields and Food Plots
Hard and soft mast
Hard and Soft Mast
Hard and soft mast, such as acorns, are one of the primary food sources for deer during the early season. Deer have a preference for white oak acorns before transitioning to red oak acorns due to their sweeter taste and lower tannin content. Soft mast includes fruits like apples, pears, and persimmons, which can be highly attractive to deer.
Agricultural Fields and Food Plots
Agricultural fields and food plots play a significant role in attracting deer and providing opportunities for early season hunting. Some plants that deer often seek out include:
Still-green bean plants
Focusing on these areas can help you capitalize on deer feeding patterns and increase your chances of tagging a mature buck. Hunting near agricultural fields and food plots requires strategic stand placement, timing, and avoiding overpressure to ensure successful hunts.
Water sources are incredibly important during the early season, as deer are more likely to visit them during warm weather. Look for areas with lush vegetation, as deer are likely to be drawn to these areas.
Also, seek out areas with natural water sources such as streams, ponds, and lakes. Hunting near water sources can be an excellent opportunity to observe deer and increase your chances of success during the early season.
Stand Setups and Ambush Tactics
Setting up stands and employing ambush tactics in various early season hunting locations can greatly increase your chances of success. In this section, we’ll explore strategies for hunting agricultural fields and food plots, bedding areas and funnels, and oak stands and soft mast locations in farm country.
By understanding the different hunting locations and how to effectively set up stands and ambush tactics, you’ll be well on your way to tagging that early season buck and successfully hunting early season bucks.
Agricultural Fields and Food Plots
When hunting agricultural fields and food plots, pay attention to stand placement, timing, and avoiding overpressure. Focus on field edges, wooded edges, and water sources for optimal success.
In the evenings, target deer that are staging on secluded food sources, and avoid morning sits in agricultural fields. If sightings increase in a clover or oats plot, head for the acorns or a bedding-area funnel. By adjusting your strategies based on food availability, you’ll increase your chances of a successful hunt.
Bedding Areas and Funnels
Hunting near bedding areas and funnels requires low-impact approaches and an understanding of deer movement patterns. Set up stands close to bedding areas and use scent control to avoid spooking deer.
Identify natural funnels and crossings, such as narrow ridges, creek crossings, and pinch points, to capitalize on deer travel between bedding and feeding areas. By employing stealthy approaches and exits and focusing on deer movement patterns, you’ll enhance your chances of tagging a mature buck.
Oak Stands and Soft Mast Locations
When hunting oak stands and soft mast locations, identify productive trees and adjust stand locations based on food availability. Focus on field-edge oaks that drop acorns into alfalfa, clover, or soybean fields, attracting deer.
Also, consider hunting near fruit trees, such as apple, pear, and persimmon trees, as they can be highly attractive to deer. By targeting oak stands and soft mast locations, you’ll maximize your chances of a successful early season hunt.
Timing Your Hunts: Morning vs. Evening
Choosing the right time of day to hunt during the early season can greatly impact your chances of success. Morning and evening hunts each offer unique advantages.
In this section, we’ll compare the benefits of morning and evening hunts, helping you decide when to hit the woods for the best results.
Advantages of Morning Hunts
Morning hunts during the early season can be advantageous due to cooler temperatures, more relaxed deer patterns, and increased visibility. Deer are typically more active during the first few hours of daylight, making morning hunts an ideal time to catch them on the move.
By focusing on morning hunts, you’ll capitalize on relaxed patterns and increased visibility of deer, giving you a higher chance of tagging a mature buck.
Advantages of Evening Hunts
Evening hunts also offer several advantages, such as:
Predictable feeding patterns
Opportunities to observe deer movement
Deer are more likely to be feeding and visiting food sources during the evening, making it easier to predict their movements
Better visibility in the blind
Comfortable temperatures, allowing you to observe deer without the need for a flashlight
By targeting evening hunts, you’ll be able to capitalize on predictable feeding patterns and observe deer movement for successful early season hunting. To maximize your chances, it’s essential to hunt early season deer during these prime evening hours.
Proper Scent Control and Stealth Techniques
Scent control and stealth techniques are crucial for successful early season bowhunting. Reducing human odor and being stealthy in your approach will increase your chances of getting closer to deer without spooking them.
In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of scent control and stealth techniques and how they can help you succeed in the early season.
Importance of Scent Control
Scent control plays a vital role in early season hunting. Reducing human odor can significantly increase your chances of success by allowing you to get closer to deer without detection. To achieve proper scent control, wear clothing made of natural fibers like wool or cotton, and use scent-eliminating products such as sprays, soaps, and detergents.
Additionally, avoid wearing heavily scented items like colognes and perfumes and be mindful of wind direction and thermals to keep your scent away from deer.
Stealthy Approaches and Exits
Stealthy approaches and exits are essential to avoid spooking deer and maintaining low pressure on the hunting area. Utilize natural cover like trees and bushes to block your scent and move quietly to avoid startling deer.
Be aware of other hunters in the area and collaborate to ensure a successful hunt for everyone. By employing stealthy approaches and exits, you’ll significantly increase your chances of success during the early season.
Utilizing Deer Calls and Rattling in Early Season
Deer calls and rattling techniques can be highly effective in attracting early season bucks, especially during the pre-rut period. In this section, we’ll explore various deer calls and rattling techniques that can help you lure in that elusive early season buck.
Contact Grunts and Bleats
Contact grunts and bleats are exciting vocalizations made by deer that hunters can easily imitate to attract deer. Using these calls can help you communicate with deer and draw them closer to your location. When using contact grunts and bleats, be patient and wait for a response. Vary the intensity and duration of the calls to sound more natural, and use the calls judiciously to avoid overuse.
By incorporating contact grunts and bleats into your early season hunting strategy, you’ll increase your chances of tagging a mature buck.
Rattling Techniques for Early Season Bucks
Rattling techniques for early season bucks are different than those used during the rut. Early season bucks are more likely to be attracted to lighter rattling and tickling sounds, as they’re still in their social phase. Combine rattling with the occasional call or grunt to keep a buck’s attention and lead to success.
Be patient and take advantage of these specialized rattling techniques to attract early season bucks and increase your chances of success.
Hunting Early Season Whitetails on Private and Public Land
Whether you’re hunting on private or public land, early season bowhunting presents unique challenges and opportunities. In this section, we’ll discuss strategies for hunting early season whitetails on both private and public land.
By understanding the different hunting environments and employing effective tactics, you’ll maximize your chances of tagging an early season deer.
Private Land Strategies
When hunting on private land, it’s important to minimize hunting pressure, focus on edges, and make calculated moves when conditions are right. Scouting the area thoroughly, identifying potential stand locations, and following landowner rules and regulations are also crucial for success.
By employing these private land strategies, you’ll increase your chances of tagging an early season buck and maintaining a healthy deer population on your property.
Public Land Strategies
Hunting on public land requires a different set of strategies, including aggressive hunting tactics, identifying natural funnels and crossings, and targeting deer returning to bedding areas. Scouting the area thoroughly, identifying potential stand locations, and being aware of local hunting regulations are essential for success on public land.
Additionally, be mindful of other hunters in the area and work together to ensure a successful hunt for all. By implementing these public land strategies, you’ll increase your chances of tagging an early season deer and contribute to sustainable deer management.
In conclusion, mastering early season bowhunting requires a comprehensive understanding of deer behavior, scouting and pre-season preparation, adapting to weather and environmental conditions, and employing effective stand setups and ambush tactics. By utilizing deer calls, rattling techniques, and scent control, and learning the differences between private and public land hunting strategies, you’ll be well on your way to tagging that dream early season buck. Now that you have the tools and knowledge necessary, it’s time to hit the woods and make the most of this exciting hunting opportunity!