When a branch breaks 100 meters away, your head whips around toward the sound. On a crisp fall morning, any sound will or should catch your attention. The rustle of leaves, the distant sound of geese drifting away from their nightly nest, or the snap of a twig should bring your mind into a heightened state of awareness.
We’ve all been there during the early days of archery season; every little thing brings us back from our dreams. Identifying sound can sometimes be difficult, especially as the years go by and our hearing is not as good as it used to be; this is me being politically correct here.
Picking up the sound and from which direction can be difficult. There are plenty of options on the market to help some of us who are in that boat. What I found is quite simple, but at the same time difficult, so let me explain. Always be on high alert. Keep your phone in your pocket. Look for the little things to keep your mind busy.
When you hear the rustle of leaves, find where the sound is coming from. Don’t mentally dismiss it as a running squirrel. Identify the sound and look for the sound. Don’t give up until you find the source of that sound.
If you need a mental break, take one, not a long one, but take the time to relax your mind for a few minutes. This is not a marathon, this is hunting and should be relaxing.
With less than three weeks to go until October 1, it’s time to make sure you’re ready. I trust that we have all shot and fine-tuned our equipment. Know your kill zone with whatever “bow” you choose, but that’s all for naught if you’re not seeing deer.
There is a growing group of stick and rope hunters who don’t care about the start of the season and hunt on the grind. While this is good for some people, I come from school that if I can legally hunt, I’m in the woods. There’s something about feeling the sun rise on your face on a crisp morning, so there’s nothing that can keep me from the autumn forest.
Having a game plan is important. In our case, we have a series of game plans for each hunting location. Between trail cameras and boots on the ground, the plan is being put together, but I always have a backup plan to account for wind, weather, and hunter experience.
The only thing I and other hunters can control is having areas to hunt that adjust to whatever situation comes our way.
There are plenty of good fat males and females to take during the early part of October. In early September, the velvet falls off the deer antlers and your testosterone begins to rise. Singles groups are breaking up and food sources are changing.
Some hunters love this time of year because the deer focus almost entirely on the available food and don’t bother them, so their patterns are generally predictable.
The key to success during the early season is staying on top of food preferences and making the move when the deer do. Patterns are available, and if you’re diligent, you can get to the right place at the right time. The key to using this technique early in the season is knowing when to make the move before you realize the deer has moved.
During the summer, die-hard deer hunters are always out exploring, whether they’re checking cameras or surveying the fields while driving. Many times mature males do not enter a field in a position where they can be seen from a distance. They may use a ditch, grassy waterway, or finger of trees to enter a field and avoid going out into the open completely until the last moments of daylight.
Traditionally, it is common for deer to change trails or entry points. Rather than pick one and hope for the best, it’s often best to set up a stand, what I call a viewing perch, in an area with high visibility of the entire field. A high corner on the edge of a field, for example, would allow you to spend an afternoon in a stall in an area that might offer a shot, but has a better chance of giving you a view of the most common entry points for feeding deer.
Deer, especially mature bucks, choose staging areas where they can see the field at all times, but mostly, they just hang out and wait to see if deer already out in the open feed calmly. These areas can be identified by the mark left by the males as they prowl. Droppings, footprints, rubbing and sometimes scratches are signs of their presence.
These areas are some of the best places to shoot big bucks early in the season because they spend a considerable amount of time here during the last hour of the day. Place your tree stand where you can take advantage of the wind and don’t hunt the stand until the wind is right. You may only get one shot at a big buck in one of these areas, so make sure everything is ok before you make your move.
Trails that follow the edge of a farm field can be hard to find because they don’t get much use, but they can be your ticket for an early season dollar. Like the two sites already mentioned, these are the result of the reluctance of mature males to go outdoors in daylight.
These parallel trails will be 6 to 30 yards inside the edge of a field and are on distinct trails, so they are usually identified by a few footprints rather than the bare dirt of a well traveled trail.
Males use these trails to sniff the field and connect lookout points or staging areas. A deer may appear at the edge of a field an hour before it is ready to enter. These trails seem to give you something to do while you wait. Walking these trails gives you a sense of security and helps you determine if the shoreline is clear.
Most of the time, these tests will be done on the downwind side of a field, and since deer tend to enter a field from the downwind side, they may cross a driveway. Where a parallel trail intersects with a driveway, it is a good place to set up a stand of trees on the lee side. You may be too far out in the woods to get a clear view of the field, but that’s a fair trade-off for a higher chance of shooting a mature male.
One thing we all need to keep in mind is not to let the deer shape you. It’s your job to model the deer. That’s why I use the rule of two sets when looking for any position. The two-set rule is quite simple. I never look for a position for more than two outfits: morning or afternoon outfits or vice versa. Then I will let the support stand for at least three days. During this time, no matter what the conditions are, I don’t look for the booth. This is when experience and patience are important.
Staying flexible during the hunt at this time of year is important. This is one of the reasons I post several posts that offer different settings depending on the conditions or hunting situation.
Food sources are key during the early season, as much or more than any other time of year. From what I’ve seen and from reports by others, the hard dough crop seems to be great, while the soft dough crop seems a bit off this season. Good thing he wasn’t selling apples this year.
Knowing what deer feed on and when they feed will help increase your chances of seeing game and getting early season meat for your freezer.
Early archery season is an exciting time. There is no reason not to take advantage of the good weather and fun.
Last week I heard from a good friend Alberto Rey and he asked me to share that the Children In The Stream/4H Youth fly fishing program is in its 24th season (since 1998) and classes started last Tuesday.
Fly fishing and fly tying classes will be held every Tuesday from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. , November 29, December 20, December 27 and January 3.
Hikes are also regularly scheduled during the spring at Canadaway Creek.
The program is open to children ages 12 and older (younger if accompanied by an adult), faculty, staff, and community members of all ages. Classes and supplies are provided free of charge. No long-term commitment is necessary.
Today’s latest news and more in your inbox