Oh, the delicious smell of fresh venison tenderloins and back strap poppers sizzling on the grill during fall tailgating parties – can’t you almost taste them! Finally, the long awaited deer season is less than a month away in most parts of the country and what always feels like an eternal wait, somehow manages to sneak up on me every season. So what’s still unchecked on the summer to do list that will help me get a bite of those little grilled sensations come fall?
Lock up the hunting rights to another property or two
Every season I try to expand my “land network”. Basically I try to accumulate more land to hunt come fall. No, not by buying land, rather by simply asking for permission to hunt on other properties. If knocking on doors doesn’t work, I research and scout public areas. While I don’t mind hunting public land and like the challenges it brings, I would much rather hunt a prime piece of private land where hunting pressure is controlled. It’s simple – the more I can lock up, the more I can leave unpressured, then the more options I have, and the more my odds go up.
Hang Stands – as many as I can afford
This task will be completed sooner rather than later to avoid any major disturbances close to the season opener. A few have already been hung, but there are few new areas and hopefully properties that will need some stands. I am a firm believer in the more options you have, the better off you will be. You need at least four different stands just to cover the main wind directions unless you would rather sit some days out. Not saying that skipping on a sit is necessarily a bad thing if it means not messing up an area, but I’d still rather have the option to hunt if possible. From my experience with filming and hunting the past couple seasons, more mature bucks were killed during one of the first two sits at any particular stand location. That was enough proof for me to hang additional stands this season. Not to bore you with science, but there is university research that supports the notion of mature bucks avoiding known stand sites after a single sit!
Conduct a camera survey
It’s like Christmas in August! There is nothing better than a Legendary buck in velvet! Talk about getting pumped up for the season. While most folks stick out there cameras to see what bucks are trouncing around the property, I take it a couple steps further and conduct a detailed deer herd survey. The survey allows me to learn some important characteristics about the deer herd such as the buck to doe ratio, age class distribution, fawn recruitment and the number of unique bucks using the property. It takes some time and effort to do it right, but it’s well worth it. From the survey, I also build a “hit-list”, which is simply a list of bucks that meet my harvest criteria.
Deer Gear Preparation
Even after thirteen years of accumulating mounds of hunting gear, I still find a way to spend at least a couple hundred bucks on more gear every single season. I always organize my gear and find out what I’m missing prior to season opener. I also take the time to wash my clothes a couple of times and hang them outside for at least a week or more before opening day. Scent control is no joke and it takes a strong willed commitment to follow through the entire season, especially once the temperature plummets. Part of my gear preparation also includes checking all my tree stand straps and hanging a safety line from every stand. A safety line keeps you harnessed to the tree while climbing up and down. This is literally a life saver and a “must have” for all hunters, especially on those frost-covered mornings.
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Shooting my bow is basically a year round activity, however, I ramp it up during the final month before season. The bow never sees the case, it’s left sitting on the table near the door so that every time I walk outside, a few arrows get zipped at the target.
Wowza! I got exhausted just writing about all the stuff left to do. Now I actually need to do it! Thankfully, all these activities are enjoyable (minus the ones in mosquito-infested areas) and build the anticipation of that season we o’ so love.