May 11, 2017
Tips on Making the Most of Your Off-Season
Believe it or not, for most of us in the hunting community, we do not live on the same 4 season calendar that the rest of the country follows. Our year is split in to two different seasons, Deer season, and not deer season. The 8 months out the year outside of deer season can be long, boring, and filled with day dreams of that next trophy on your wall. Most of you already know what you SHOULD be doing with your off season to increase your odds for success, but are you actually putting in the work? Consider this list a helpful reminder to guide you on the path to being at the top of your game on opening day. And for those of you who spend they’re off season thinking about what they should be doing, and not actually doing it, then consider this your kick in the ass to get outside and make this upcoming deer season different!
This seems simple, and it should be. The age old expression that “practice makes perfect” holds true with hunting. You need to make time for this. Everyone can set aside some amount of time out of their schedule to practice with their bow. Whether you are able to set aside 1 hour a day, or 1 hour a week, make a schedule, and stick to it! Every little bit will help, after all, the difference between a great season and a regretful one, can be decided by inches. You may even consider taking a lesson or two at a local bow shop, find a 3D target range close to you and get some semi-real condition shooting in. By practicing constantly throughout the off season you will gain more confidence in your ability to make that shot when it counts.
It’s never too early to start putting out trail cameras. I tend to start getting mine out at the end of May. You can never have too much information on the behavior of the deer population in your area. Really pay attention to the deer you are seeing. Try to think like a biologist who is trying to get an accurate count of a certain specie’s population. Identify them and give them names, and log everything on each deer, where you saw them, when you saw them, and what the weather was doing. The more trail cams you can put out the better, I tend to go with cheap cameras, ebay is a great place to find some good deals. I would rather put out 6, 40$ cameras than one 250$ camera.
This can be something you can literally do on the shitter every day. Read some books on deer hunting such as “Mapping Trophy Bucks” and “Strategies for Whitetail”. I found those books extremely helpful. Study the animal you’re hunting, learn new strategies, learn how to hunt the wind. We live in an era where information is literally at your fingertips, use it! There is a plethora of hunters out there sharing experiences via blogs, podcasts, and videos. You will not have to look very hard to find something new to try in the field.
This is like killing two birds with one stone. One, chasing predators is hard and can really sharpen your skills and woodsmanship ahead of the deer season. But the more important thing is the fact that there are areas in the US where 75% of the newborn deer fawns are killed by predators, especially coyotes. By killing predators you’re actually saving your future prey, in this case the deer you’re going to hunt!
No matter what your target is, method you use, or terrain you hunt; there is a certain level of fitness required that will increase your odds of harvesting an animal. Whether the task of your hunting season requires you to backpack mountains for 7 days, or be able to sit in the same spot for 12 hours. Being fit and healthy has been shown to increase your concentration levels which is extremely beneficial while hunting. Start jogging/hiking, try yoga, or visit the nearest gym and lift some weights.
Trees and overgrown foliage can grow a lot throughout the year, and that can cause a logistic nightmare when needing to sneak into the woods under darkness. So get out well ahead of the season and clear out some paths and set up some routes. You will make getting in and out of your hunting area easier and quieter. Another added bonus to your efforts is that deer tend to take the path of least resistance. So in turn, you may shock yourself and create an exploitable travel route for your deer.