The velvet isn’t even off yet and chances are you’re already taking steps to ensure you fail in the woods this fall. Lucky for you, there’s still time to get it right. Not a lot of time. But enough, if you start right now. Let’s talk about what you’ve been doing (or not doing) that’s sure to spell disaster for your deer season.
How often are you shooting your bow? When was the last time you shot your deer rifle? Are we going with the, “It was fine the last time I shot it” defense? Even if nothing is changing about your setup, you should treat your hunting rig like a Reagan treated the Russians. Trust, but verify.
Do you need to spend hours every night slinging arrows or lead? No. Will it hurt to spend some time at the range? Also no. Bow sights get bumped, scope turrets get messed with. What you don’t want to do is wait to find out when the buck of a lifetime is running away from you, unharmed.
A good hunter is familiar with their tools. They are an extension of their own body. If you’re not planning on putting the time in to verify that every arrow goes where it should, and every bullet finds its target, you’re making a mistake that could cost you dearly this fall.
This one cuts both ways, and both ways can have terrible results. What do the extremes look like?
Johnny Deerkiller can’t wait for season to get here. He checks the cards in his trail cameras every three days. He’s walking trails looking for big tracks once a week, and parks and glasses deer every night after dinner. He’s scouted three new stand locations this week. And last week. And he’s planning the same thing next week. Johnny can’t understand why he’s seeing fewer deer on the cameras and while scouting. Johnny doesn’t understand that he’s over-scouting his land and pushing his deer.
Billy Itelbefine isn’t worried. He’s hunted this spot for years. The deer use that trail. They go bed here. They feed over there. Everything is fine. Billy doesn’t know that they logged the next woods over, and the deer love having those tops to bed in. He also doesn’t know that the normal corn/soybean rotation for the field that surrounds his woods got a wheat crop surprise this year. Billy is in for a world of hurt when he shows up opening day and realizes he should have been paying a little more attention.
Neither Johnny or Billy is likely to kill a deer this year, and it was completely preventable. They just needed a little balance. Don’t be either one of these guys. Pick your spots to scout. Be diligent, but don’t push. If you’ve been pressing, be sure to give the woods a break before season gets here.
Relying on last year
This isn’t just related to scouting. Sure, it’s a big part of it. Lots of hunters get complacent and think they know what their deer are doing day in and day out. That’s under-scouting.
Relying on last year can have other, more devastating, and permanent results. Far too many hunters leave their stands out year-round, without checking them before season starts. Many times nothing happens, but relying on what worked last year may mean that the strap securing a stand to a tree fails when you stand in it for the first time this year.
Failure to check and clear trails could lead to an ATV accident.
Thinking you know what’s going on could mean far more than missing out on deer. It could literally be a case of life or death.
Make sure you are familiar with your hunting ground. That your equipment and trails have been checked and ready for the season. One afternoon in the woods could very well save your life.
Hunting season will be here before we know it. Hopefully you’re already on the right track, but if you need to make some adjustments, there’s still time to save your season. After all, it hasn’t even begun yet.