Hunting Early Bow Season has Advantages Over The Rut
Early archery season is a much easier time to plan and successfully bag a nice (trophy) buck, but it does take time and preparation. You will need to consider; temperature, food source, water supply, bedding area, scent blocker, and a way to approach your stand for entry and exit.
Preparation For The Hunt
The first thing you will want to do is get a couple of trail cameras. These cameras will help you find the early season travel patterns from the bedding area to the food and water sources. You will also capture how many bucks are in the area, when they travel, and if there is one that meets or exceeds your expectations (a shooter).
Second, once you have determined which buck you’re after you need to plan your stand placements and have a strategy for being able to enter and exit these stands while leaving little to no scent. You also want to minimizing your walking distance in the area your bucks will be traveling.
Third, what techniques should you be using to help aid you in bagging your Buck? For example; what natural scents are you going to use and which calls are right for this time of the year?
In my 30 years of experience in hunting the early bow season I will use a Fawn and Doe bleat, once or twice per setting, along with a light rattle. when working the rattle use it lightly, simulating two bucks sparring or testing each other and avoid the dominant fight rattling. For a Natural scent blocker there is nothing better or easier to use than leaves from the woods you’re hunting.
This past weekend (Oct 11) I used my rattle lightly for approximately 15 seconds and 5 minutes later this Doe came in looking. 5 minutes after that this small buck came in, head down and following the fresh Doe scent. This left a great shot, but not what I’m after. In most cases when rattling in the early season you will bring in a Doe or small buck before a mature bucks arrives, which is great for giving you time to be ready for that shooter. However a couple of years ago a shooter buck came in fast, within seconds, and yes my buck season was over.
Early Bow Season Advantages
1. The water holes are still open and the deer will use these until they are frozen over.
2. Food plots and orchards are still very active.
3. Using Natural scents to cover your own scent is very easy to do and still very accessible.
4. Bucks will bed very close to their food sources.
5. Bucks will stay to a pattern which is easy to figure out; bedding, feeding, and water, until the corps are taken off.
6. Bucks will travel in pairs or more (bachelor Bucks) with the larger bucks a few seconds to a few minutes behind. So know your bucks via the trail cameras and wait with patients, passing up the smaller bucks.
7. Deer are not on full alert from hunters being in the woods.
8. Bucks are not in Rut charging around, which also tends to make the meat tougher and have a stronger wild taste due to hormones pumping throughout their body.
Archery Hunting Tips
It’s much easier to scout, find the food sources, find the bedding areas, and locate the water supply in the Early Bow Season then it is in the Rut Season. You will need to hunt the earlier and last hours, as these mature bucks will hold a pattern of feeding and traveling at dark. So set up near the travel lanes and near either the bedding or food source and focus on hunting the early and late hours. Once the corps (Corn & Beans) come off then this changes everything and the Bucks will start to travel more during the day light hours. They will also be push into the cover such as woods, swamps, and thickets, so you will want to plan your stands accordingly.