As the summer wanes many hunters are looking forward to crisp fall mornings and the great pre-rut and rut deer hunting that goes along with them, however, your opportunity to harvest a big buck is now!
Early season hunts can be the best hunts of the year if a hunter reasonably scouts their hunting ground and used the information garnered to place stands. Although, scouting and stand placement are critical elements whenever, and wherever deer are hunted, early season hunting has specific requirements for both.
Early Season Scouting
Early season scouting must be done, well, early. In many regions, hunters should begin looking over their perspective hunting grounds in July and no later than August. During this time scouting should be done at a distance early in the morning a late in the afternoon by glassing fields where deer are feeding.
Many bucks during this time are going to still be in bachelor groups and should be slipping into late summer feeding patterns. Just remember, optics (such as a spotting scope or a night vision scope) are necessary tools, keeping a good distance while early scouting will ensure that spooking deer will be kept to a minimum. Watching where and when deer enter a specific field will be critical information to be used later when choosing stand locations. A good trail game camera will also help a lot.
Once it has been determined where and when deer are entering a particular field to feed, a hunter must move in a place your stands accordingly. This will require that the hunter enter the field that they have been scouting, however, this can be done with minimal impact if the hunter enters and exits the field during the right times. Placing stands during or around the noon hour is a good practice and should minimize any deer encounters.
Use the information gained during scouting to place the stands near the trails deer are using to enter the fields. Be sure to place the stands in locations that will offer the best shots along the trail and in the open field. When placing stands also keep predominant wind patterns in mind, and set multiple stands accordingly. This offers flexibility. If the wind is not right to hunt one stand, then another stand can be hunted.
For example, if a stand is placed on the north side of a field, then hunting that stand with a north wind would be counter productive, whereas, a stand placed on the south side of the same field could be hunted in that wind.
Putting it Together for Early Success
One of the biggest advantages to early season hunting is that during this time bucks are still following a pattern and getting them locked down because of their daily habits is much easier than when they are rutting. Scouting feeding areas early and placing stands accordingly can offer one of the best chances of the year for harvesting a big buck.
For more specifics about early season hunting there are plenty of resources available. Excellent books, such as Hunting Tough Bucks by Gary Clancy have a section about early season hunting. Furthermore, internet magazine articles such as “How to Pattern Early Season Bucks” by Dan Kibler are able to be viewed at Game and Fish Magazine. These resources, among many others, can give specifics that can be used in a particular hunting area. Apply the information and hopefully, a chance at a big buck will present itself.