Dr. Louis Pasteur once said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” I never knew the famous chemist was a deer hunter, but he must have been to make such a profound statement.
This statement has been the mantra of every consistently successful deer hunter for as long as I have been deer hunting, which is a lot longer than I care to admit. I guess it could hold true for other things, too, but I am positive he was talking about deer hunting when he said it.
So taking his advice, now is the time to prepare our minds, bodies and hunting stands! The hot and sticky dog days of summer are the perfect time to start preparing for the upcoming season, it is barely two months away and closing in fast.
July and August are the ideal times to get those trail cameras out and see what is roaming around your hunting area. Mineral licks and well used trails are great areas to set up your cameras to catch sight of that trophy buck you want to bag this fall.
Having trail cameras out will help you figure out where the deer are actively moving and feeding. The photographic evidence that the bucks are there will also help keep you in the stand on those cold November mornings when the weather is nasty, but the deer are moving.
If you aren’t into the trail camera movement, nothing beats the old fashioned approach of boots on the ground. Walking around in the humid summer air may not be the most pleasant conditions, but the deer you bump while scouting won’t go far and will be more tolerant of your intrusion than they will be in late October.
Looking for deer sign is still the best way to learn the habits and haunts of your quarry and to pick out those perfect ambush sites. The rubs and scrapes from last fall can still be seen by the discerning eye and those well-worn trails are quite visible without the freshly fallen leaves to obscure them.
A lot can be learned by a walk in the woods, no matter what time of year it is. Once you are armed with all of the knowledge of your hunting area, it is also a good time to set up that new treestand or tweak one that wasn’t just right last season.
Always make sure to check every stand before getting into it each fall. If the stand has been out all year, make sure it is safe and sturdy before you put any weight on it. Nothing ruins a hunt like a trip to the hospital after a fall.
There are a lot of hospital visits that can be avoided by using that safety harness every time your foot leaves the ground, especially if you are using safety lines that go from the ground up. “Hook up, from the ground up!” Most falls occur getting into or out of a treestand.
Regardless of if you are hunting from a tree or the ground, you will need to clear some shooting lanes. Make sure you have a clear shot when the moment arrives. Deer will hardly notice a few limbs cut this time of year, but clear a landing strip for a 737 in November and ole mossy horns won’t be caught dead around it.
If you are hunting from a ground blind, those trimmed branches are perfect to brush in your blind so the deer won’t even know you are there. Who knew there was so much to do in the off-season?
Oh and let’s not forget to practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter if you are using a stick bow, crossbow, compound bow or the top of the line deer rifle, the practice you put in today will pay off huge when Mr. Big walks out.
It is easy to make that shot in the back yard, but the difficulty level is ratchet up about 100 times on that cold rainy morning when your heart is pounding out of your chest because the biggest doe ever is right beside your stand and you know her boyfriend can’t be far behind.
There is no time like the present to get out there and start making this hunting season the best ever. Remember, luck favors the prepared and what deer hunter doesn’t like to have luck on his side?