As opening day of bow season approaches, everyone hopes that they will get that early season deer. Some will, but there are some that won’t because of mistakes that they make as the season opens.
You see, during the early season, there is one thing that is most important: food. In addition, the best chances of securing your kill is going to be in the evening just prior to sunset. So, trying to get to and hole up in your treestand in the dark hours just before dawn isn’t going to do you much good.
Without further ado, here are the 10 mistakes that many hunters will make in the early season and forgo their chances of that early season buck that they’ve been waiting to score.
It does not matter how early you get up and get into the woods, chances are that you are going to bump right into the deer that you are trying to hunt at the food source. This is particularly true if you’re hunting food plots or food sources. Even if you aren’t hunting at the food source, there is a good chance you will still be detected before you make it to your treestand.
However, it is possible to get to your stand undetected if you are familiar with the bedding area and you are able to come in from behind this area. However, it is still a risky move. Ultimately, your best chance is to wait until the middle of the day and come in for an evening hunt.
Early in the season, it is still hot and humid. This means that you are going to be sweating up a storm, which also means that you are going to get quite smelly. When you are emitting an odor, the whitetail aren’t going to come anywhere near you, regardless of whether it is early in the season or late in the season. However, things are worse for you, as a hunter, in the early season.
Scent control is an important part of your hunting route, and it is especially important during the early season. This is due to the high temperatures and reduced amount of clothes that you are wearing.
So, when you are going to be sweating, and it can’t be hidden under several layers of clothing like during the cold temperatures during the rut, it is imperative that you take proper scent control measures. Deer will be using wind to their advantage when they move from one area to the next, and you don’t want scent to be want keeps you from getting your kill.
As a general rule, you won’t be shooting from the ground when you head out into the woods in the early season. So, why would you practice shooting during the weeks leading up to opening day from the ground? Doing so could cost you that trophy buck, or wounding a deer and not being able to find it.
This is because there are so many mechanical differences when you shoot from an elevated position compared to that of a position on the ground. For example, when you shoot from above a deer, the shot angles and arrow impact are significantly different than when you shoot at an animal at eye level.
The best time to scout your deer is the few weeks leading up to opening day. During this time, the thoughts of the deer are dominated by none other than food, and the deer tends to stick to the exact same routine day in and day out unless there is some kind of outside variable that presents itself such as food availably chances or scouting pressure.
So, scooting should be done from a distance using quality optics to maintain that element of surprise. Trail cameras can be used if you are hunting in the mountains, but make sure to check the cameras in the late morning hours so that you minimize the chances of running into the deer.
Speaking of sources of food, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that if you aren’t familiar with the deer’s preferred source of food that you are unlikely going to be able to devise a solid game plan for the early season.
You must be able to stay one to two steps ahead of the deer, and this involves knowing the food sources that will and will not be available when the season opens. This applies to hunters who are hunting over food plots and the hardwoods.
Hunters who are hunting hardwoods must know the availability of mast crops in addition to the ridges that hold oaks that will be dropping them. In addition the bounty of the food plots can and will change depending on how hard they were hit over the preseason and how their growth were affected by the weather.
All in all, it is crucial that you are familiar with your food sources and their conditions prior to the season starting.
Unless you are spending your time hunting in areas that harbor ponds, streams, or creeks, you may want to consider how important the source of water is. During the early season, the weather is dry and humid, which means that the deer are going to need water. If you can set up near a water source, there is a good chance that you can get yourself a kill—as a good of a chance as setting up near a food source—in the right circumstances.
If you hunt near food sources during the early season, there is a very good chance that you will get stuck in your treestand while deer are feeding. If this happens, what are you going to do?
One option that you have is get a friend or landowner to drive up, assuming that your stand is on the edge of a field, and push the deer away as soon as the sun goes down. This ensures that the attention is off of you and is on the intruder instead. Another option is to use a predator call to lure the deer away. If you go this route, keep in mind that a little often goes a long way. So, start softly, and if necessary, get more aggressive.
Trail cameras can be beneficial for you for scouting, but they can also tip off your deer. However, the latter usually happens when you check the camera too frequently in those weeks leading up to the first day of bowhunting season.
If you know that a solid buck is in the area, then put up the trail camera and only check it a couple of times until you are ready to head into the woods and hunt him down. Checking the camera could indicate that the deer isn’t in the area any longer, but this is better than leading him out of the area because you accidentally ran into because you needed to check the camera again.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is invest in wireless scouting cameras if your area has good cell phone service. Otherwise, simply limit the trips you take in and out of the area to take a look at the images that the camera caught.
This one may sound a little petty and silly to some of you, but if you practiced a lot over the summer, then those nocks took a lot of beating over the summer. This will take a toll on your hunting equipment, not to mention your overall shooting.
You don’t want to be in your stand, pull out an arrow from your quiver, and realize that it is too beat up to take a good shot out in the woods. The best thing you can do is purchase a set new of nocks and install them a week or so before opening day, as this will tighten things up and boost your confidence.
Why would you want to go through all of the above and then end up missing your perfect shot due to the broadheads not flying right? You wouldn’t.
The poor flight of broadheads can be due to many things, but you won’t know that they are flying poorly until you actually shoot them. For this reason, they shouldn’t be shot for the first time while you are out in the woods staring at a trophy buck.
Take the time to test your broadheads before opening day to make certain that they’re flying properly. Otherwise, you may run the risk of not getting that perfect deer.
Opening day and early season can be the perfect times to get the kill of the season and/or get some good venison in your freezer. However, it can also be a disaster. In the end, it is up to you which way the season goes for you.
For more information and to make sure that you are prepared for the bowhunting season, contact the professionals at Full Draw Archery.
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