Photo courtesy of Buck Country Outfitters
It’s one of the most exciting time of the year for big game hunters in the United States. Deer season is just around the corner and many outdoorsmen and women are getting that familiar old itch to begin preparing their gear, making a trip to their favorite hunting spot, and scouting before whitetail deer season officially opens.
Being a successful deer hunter doesn’t happen by chance. It takes many hours of dedication and focus and there are some specific ways to prepare for deer season that seasoned hunters follow to ensure that they are ready to hit the woods this fall.
We caught up with some whitetail deer hunting guides that have devoted years to hone their hunting skills and asked them about the best ways to prepare for deer season. Here are the 7 best ways to prepare for deer season and get ready to take aim at a great year.
This one is obvious, but starting as early as possible is truly part of a successful deer hunting strategy. Derick Robinson, owner of Buck Country Outfitters, stresses the importance to start early instead of waiting until the last minute.
“A lot of guys make the mistake of waiting until a month or so before the season starts to scout and plan for the season,” says Derick. “This is something you should have out of the way as early as possible so you don’t intrude on the deers’ habitat too much.”
Too Many Trail Cams Can Be a Bad Thing
Derick also says that you shouldn’t always rely only on your trail cameras and focus your efforts on placing and checking them too often. Using trail cameras to locate and spy on deer is one of the most popular ways to prepare for deer season, but you can do more harm than good with them.
“Trail cameras are great, but a lot of guys use them in the wrong way and at the wrong times,” says Derick. “When you go in and place a trail camera, that doesn’t usually spook the deer too much. However, when you’re in there every week or so checking those cameras, the deer will take notice and will often high-tail it out of there if they feel pressured.”
Derick says he uses trail cameras sparingly at his Kentucky property and makes sure to be minimally invasive when it comes to checking those cameras.
Spotting from a Distance
Perhaps one of the more interesting ways to prepare for deer season we came across when speaking with deer hunting guides is the use of spotting scopes in scouting for deer. Derick says he and his guides rely heavily on spotting scopes and considers this one of the best ways to prepare for deer season without ever letting the deer know you were there.
“Using a spotting scope allows you to sit back from a safe distance and observe where the deer are, where they are going, and a bunch of other behaviors that are helpful,” says Derick. “A lot of guys don’t have the time to sit and do this, but if you want to be a successful hunter, it’s going to take some time and effort to do things the right way.
The Truth is in the Trails
Brian Lindberg, owner of Soap Creek Outfitters, says one of the most important ways to prepare for deer season is to pay close attention to the deer trails on your property.
“Finding and mapping trails is probably the most important ways to prepare for deer season,” says Brain. “You can really get a good handle on where the deer are going on your land by looking at the trails and finding those spots where they intersect or cluster. Everything we do is based off of where the trails are and where we expect the deer to be at.”
Soap Creek Outfitters is located in southern Iowa—considered by many hunters to be among the best locations in the world for whitetail deer hunting trips.
Whitetail Heaven Outfitters is located just south of Frankfurt, Kentucky and is aptly named based on the quality of deer hunters typically harvest from the Bluegrass State. Tevis McCauley owns and operates the guide service and says that one of the most important ways to prepare for deer season is to get comfortable with your weapon of choice.
“Whatever you’re going to hunt with, you need to become as familiar and comfortable as you can get with,” says Tevis. “You can do everything leading up to that shot perfect, but if you miss or wound the animal, all of that time and effort is not worth much. I tell my clients to go out and shoot their weapon as much as they can from a variety of distances and positions.”
Tevis notes that hunters should have their weapons sighted-in and also make sure to keep their guns, bows and anything else they plan to hunt with in excellent condition.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
Jason Johns, owner of Boneyard Outfitters, stays busy at his hunting property up until opening day with some of the best ways to prepare for deer season. Jason says that starting small (going after some does first) is a smart way to truly prepare for taking the shot on a monster buck.
“If you’re just getting into hunting and really want to be successful, there’s no shame in taking a few does to become acquainted with the practice of hunting and taking a good shot and harvesting the animal you intend to take,” says Jason. “Some guys think they can just pick up a rifle and climb into a stand and kill the buck of a lifetime, but that rarely ever happens. One of the best ways to being a great hunter is to work toward it.”
Jason says that some of the best advice he can give on ways to prepare for deer season is to pay attention to the does.
“Start out hunting does because you’ll learn a lot about the whitetail deer species,” says Jason. “Once you hone your skills and know where those does are going to be at what time, you’re in the perfect place to see some big bucks. Where are the bucks going to be during the rut? They’ll be where the does are.”
Play the Wind
Jason also says that, perhaps the most important ways to prepare for deer season is to understand how wind plays a role in everything a whitetail deer does.
“Knowing how to plan and set up your stand based on wind direction is one of the most important ways to prepare for deer season,” says Jason. “You also be aware of your own odor and do everything you can to minimize your scent and hunt in a position where your scent won’t give you away.”
We hope you can use these tips on the best ways to prepare for deer season and have a great year. Happy hunting!