Bowhunting season is upon us! Be sure you are prepared for it. More often than not, you feel confident that you will be able to fill up your tags early in the season. While some will, others won’t because they make early season mistakes.
So, with that being said, here are 10 mistakes that you will want to do your very best to avoid early in the season if you want to try to make the most of it this year:
Mistake #1: Getting Up at the Crack of Dawn.
The problem with getting out in the woods early is that the deer are up early and eating. More than likely, you are going to go right by your food plots to get to your tree stand or the area that you’re hunting from. This is true regardless of how early you get up and going. It’s going to be very difficult to get to where you need to be undetected.
Though, it is possible if you know where their bedding area is and you can set up a route from the backside. However, you still run that risk of running into the deer. Therefore, for the best chances of success, you need to wait until the middle of the day and plan for a late evening hunt to avoid coming face-to-face with the bucks you’re trying to tag.
Mistake #2: Not Staying on Top of Scent Control.
During early hunting season, it is extremely hot and humid. This means you are going to be sweating, and sweating a lot. This also means that you are going to be putting off an odor. Unfortunately, odor is going to significantly reduce your odds of killing a buck, regardless of how early or late in the season it is.
Your hunting routine must include scent control. This is particularly true early in the season because of the higher temperatures and the fewer clothes that you will be wearing. It’s going to be extremely hot and you can’t hide that sweat odor underneath five or six layers of clothing as you would during colder conditions. Also, bucks are going to be using the wind to their advantage as they move to their food sources from their bedding areas. So, failing to maintain control of your scent is not something you want to do early on in the season, though it isn’t something you want to do ever.
Mistake #3: You Spent Your Summer Shooting from the Ground.
It’s great that you spent time during the summer practicing your aim. However, if you spent the entire time on the ground when you’re going to spend hunting season up in a tree blind, then you have failed miserably. Your practicing was essentially counterproductive and could have cost you that trophy buck. Another scenario is that you could actually wind up striking a buck but not ever find it.
It is a lot different shooting from an elevated position than it is shooting flat-footed on the ground. Your shot angles and arrow impact change drastically, and that is only to name a couple. So, consider how you will be hunting when opening day arrives and make sure you’re practicing the right way.
Mistake #4: You Failed to Spend Ample Time Scouting.
The several weeks that lead up to the opening day of hunting season are very important when it comes to scouting. Food is the primary thought for deer and most will stick to a very similar routine unless something changes it, such as food availability changes or scouting pressure. With that being said, it is a good idea to do your scouting early in the summer or form afar with quality optics. This ensures that you don’t disturb the area, leaving your scent behind, while still keeping tabs on the deer herd. You could also set up some trail cameras, but remember to check them late in the morning so as to reduce the chances of bumping into any deer.
Mistake #5: Failing to Become Familiar with a Preferred Source of Food.
Your game plan is going to go straight down the drain if you don’t know the favored food source of the local deer. Early in the season, it is critical that you are one step ahead of the animals that you are trying to tag, and this means knowing the sources of food that will be available. This does not only pertain to the food plots, but also the hardwoods. In the hardwoods, you need to know what is available when it comes to mast crops. The availability of food plots can change depending on how they were maintained before the season and the weather.
Mistake #6: Underestimating the Importance of Water Sources.
If you are already set up to hunt in an area that has a pond, stream or creek, then you will be good. Otherwise, it is crucial that you consider relocating to an area with a water source. Many people tend to overlook the importance of a water source early on in the hunting season; however, with conditions so dry and humid, deer are going to find nearby watering holes – that’s a given. Therefore, under the right circumstances, you can be just as successful setting up near a water source as you would be setting up near a food source.
Mistake #7: Failing to Prepare an Exit Strategy.
As a general rule, you will be set up near a deer herd’s food source. This means that there is a good chance that you could get caught in your tree strand while the deer are eating. If this happens, what would you do? Will you have an exit strategy?
Ultimately, you have a couple of options. You could have a friend or the landowner drive up to the field’s edge (if this is the case) and steer the deer away from the food source when the sun sets. This draws their attention away from you and onto them. An alternative option is to steer the deer away with a predator call. It usually doesn’t take much, so make sure to use it softly at first. After all, you can always get more aggressive if needed.
Mistake #8: Checking Your Trail Camera Too Frequently.
Trail cameras can be incredibly helpful for scouting, but they can also tip off the buck that you are after. However, when the latter is the case, it is usually your fault. How so? It happens from you going out and checking on your camera far too often, especially in the few weeks leading up to the beginning of the season and shortly thereafter.
So, if you’re aware that a buck is in the area, make sure to hang up a trail camera. Don’t check it every single day – really, this isn’t even necessary. Simply check it a couple of times and then forget it’s there until you’re ready to actually hunt. The last thing you want to do is run into your buck when you go to get the camera card because this is a sure-fire way of never seeing that buck again. Ultimately, the best way to go about using trail cameras is a wireless camera if there is service in the area. Otherwise, simply limit the trips out there to gain access to the images.
Mistake #9: Leaving Old Nocks on the Arrows.
Over a summer of hard, gruesome practicing to prepare for a hopefully successful deer hunting season, your arrow’s nocks have taken a pretty good beating. You have to think about the toll that beating will have on your shooting as well as your equipment as a whole. You don’t want those arrows on your quivers when it is time to shoot a buck out in the field. Therefore, right before opening day, get yourself a new set of nocks and install them. This will help tighten things up and instill some confidence in your shooting abilities.
Mistake #10: Failing to Test Your Broadheads.
After going through everything already mentioned here, what was the point if you failed to test your broadheads and ended up missed your shot? Ultimately, there wasn’t one. You can blame poor broadhead flight down on many things, but you will never know that they won’t fly well unless you actually shoot them. And this most certainly shouldn’t me the opening day of the season.
It is important that you take the time before deer hunting season arrives to shoot your mechanical or fixed broadheads to make sure that they’re fixing properly. Otherwise, you are taking the chance of blowing your once-in-a-lifetime chance of getting that trophy buck that is right in front of you.
Early deer hunting season is a fantastic time to stock up your freezer and get the buck of your dreams. However, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you allow these mistakes to take over. Aside from keeping the aforementioned information in mind, also make sure you’re fully equipped with the right gear by visiting Full Draw Archery or giving us a call.
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