It is never too early to be prepared. And when it comes to hunting whitetail deer, you certainly don’t want to be caught off guard, unless you are actually looking to have a bad time.
Really, hunting of any sort requires quite a bit of preparation before even the early months, and you better believe this is especially true of whitetail deer hunting.
If you want a productive hunting season, or if you want a better chance of bagging that buck you missed last year, try some of these off-season tips on for size.
Know What You’re Hunting On
It should be pretty obvious that hunters who know the lay of the land will have a huge advantage over those who don’t.
You’re going to want to know where it is you intend to hunt, and where your whitetail deer will most likely be grazing and roaming during the hunting months.
Before the season starts, or even during the early season if you plan on hunting later, look into the place you’re wanting to hunt at. Look up maps, satellite pictures, and previous testimonials. Go ahead and ask a few hunters who’ve been on the site before. They ought to know a thing or two as well!
When observing the behavioral patterns of the deer there, make note of budding or existing food sources. Look for acorns and clover, among some of their other favored foods, among the brush.
Make sure you keep a good eye out for potential nesting places near these food sources, too. This is especially important for someone preparing for the early season, as deer tend to bed closely to their food sources out of convenience.
Get Some Eyes In There
One of the most useful items in the modern hunter’s repertoire is the game camera. Whether they be wireless or cellular, it doesn’t matter.
Setting these things up is often quite easy, even for those not savvy with technology, and even cheap game cameras can capture quality deer photos that will tell you where and how often deer are in a particular area of the hunting grounds.
Finding a suitable trail camera for your needs is quite simple. You will first need to consider your budget, as trail cameras can cost anywhere between $50 and $200 a pop, with the most fully-featured and technologically advanced going for more.
Those who haven’t used trail cameras before, however, will find enough to love from cameras between the $70 and $120 range, as these are where some of the best cameras for the money are.
Online retailers, such as Amazon, also run frequent sales on these, so do be considerate of that if you are on a tight budget.
Learn How to Follow Their Noses
Whitetail have excellent senses, especially in the case of smell. Anyone who’s had a hunt ruined because of their scent being left on the hunting grounds can tell you that. Yet, their sense of smell also comes with a great opportunity for you, the hunter, to exploit.
Whether it be with buck scents to challenge the young and feisty ones, to doe estrus to lure them in in the later months, their smell can be used against them.
The key here is scent control: control the scents of the area, and you’ll have some control over the deer as well. Keep your human scents off with scentless soap or baking soda.
If you’re packing your hunting clothes in luggage, sprinkle a bit of baking soda over your clothes to make sure it stays unscented.
Also look for scent-causing items, like buck scents and doe scents, which outdoor suppliers sell usually according to how early or late in the season it is. Whatever you do, though, make sure you are using the Whitetail’s sense of smell for you, and not against you.
Be Comfortable With Your Weapon
This bit of advice is especially important to novices who may not be completely comfortable with the rifle or bow they are hunting with.
Being uncomfortable with your own weapon is like being uncomfortable with your computer, or with a musical instrument: you’re not going to do much of anything with it until you’ve gotten over it.
If you’re not 100% comfortable with your weapon, to the point where you know how to clean and care for it, you should take every opportunity to get comfortable.
If you haven’t taken a gun or archery course, do that before you do anything else. Many places won’t let you have a firearm without taking a mandatory class. But, in this case, you’re going to want to know the ins and outs of your weapon of choice.
Learn and practice the proper stances, try to perfect your breathing when aiming, and take a few practice shots at a range. You never know what will happen come Whitetail season, but you will want to be prepared. Nothing is more disappointing than missing an easy shot because of nerves.
Don’t Get Too Eager
This is an important one, as this tip more or less dictates the others in some way. Another way of putting things is this: everything in moderation.
Don’t check your trail cameras too many times. Don’t be getting too close to the deer’s grazing and resting spots during the off-season.
Don’t think weather conditions and other natural events won’t change the layout of hunting grounds, or at least the movement patterns of the deer inhabiting it. Essentially, don’t let your eagerness for Whitetail hunting ruin your Whitetail hunting!
Deer aren’t stupid. It’s one of the reasons why there’s still Whitetail to hunt every year, because if they were stupid, every random Joe could hunt down and end these creatures.
No, Whitetail know the habits of a sloppy hunter, and they know that when they spot a human during the early season, that area isn’t going to be safe for a very long time.
Do everything you can to keep yourself away from deer during this time. Check your trail cameras no more than twice a month. Keep your distance from deer at all times, and be especially diligent about your scent (as stated earlier). Essentially, don’t let deer see you before you’ve seen them.
These are just five tips to help prepare for the whitetail deer season, but there are other things you can do to prepare. These are just the five that are the easiest to follow and remember.
As a matter of fact, they are practically common sense for anyone wanting to go out hunting, but some things can be overlooked during the excitement of the coming hunting season.
But don’t let your excitement ruin your actual hunting season! Just remember to learn the lay of the land, learn the Whitetail’s behavioral patterns and frequently visited spots.
Also take advantage of trail cameras, as they’re very useful to have around and relatively inexpensive nowadays.
Practice shooting your weapon of choice, as you’re going to need your aiming skills during the season proper. And, above all else, don’t let your early season preparation ruin your chances later on. Be invisible, be stealthy, and happy hunting!