Early Bow Season Strategies
(Jeremy Flinn photo)
Although we still may be enduring some hot days, every once in a while we feel the cool breeze of autumn upon us. The days are getting shorter, and college football stadiums across the country have started to rumble from cheering fans on Saturdays.
That can only mean one thing; deer season has finally arrived. For most, the opening of deer season starts with bow hunting. The thought of sitting in a tree is becoming, or already is, a reality. But the anticipation can quickly turn to frustration if you have not adapted your early bow season strategy to the ever changing whitetail woods.
After watching bucks cruise lush crop fields all summer, it’s easy to get wrapped up in planning to ambush a buck on his summer pattern. But over the next few weeks, things will dramatically change. Crops will be harvested by combines, acorns will begin to rain down, fall food plots will begin to grow, and a buck’s behavior will change. From hanging out with his buck buddies in a small section to roaming over many acres and letting his buddies know that this is his territory. With all the changes, it’s critical to have a strategy that mimics the changing whitetail world.
For those states already open, or opening in the next couple of weeks, you still have a shot at encountering bucks on their summer pattern. But if this is your game plan over the next month, you will quickly find yourself battling the fall/October lull.
Sure there are things out of our control that play into the lull, but often it is self-induced. If you continue to sit on the same crop field that was once lush with green soybeans, but now looks more like a desert, then you likely will experience the lull.
One person with plenty of experience at beating the October lull is Nick Mundt of Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector TV show on Outdoor Channel.
“It’s important to be mobile,” says Mundt. “The more you are willing to adjust, the more likely (you are) to find deer.”
Part of the adjustment strategy is to think about the changing food sources. If you migrate towards oak flats, you will likely continue to see deer. In other words, what lull?
So what’s the best strategies? The most flexible ones.
Start with areas you have seen the most deer in the last few weeks. Even though it may not last, a crop field could be the best place the first week of the season, or until crops are harvested. As action begins to die off, start to ease back in the woods, particularly near dropping red or white oaks. If you have some food plots established, this also could be good, but I wouldn’t recommend battling acorns; you will lose.
Hold off on those plots until mid-October. Scrape action will begin to pick up and you may get lucky and catch a buck cruising in the daylight hours.
If nailing down deer on acorns is tough, maybe because you are hunting big tracks of forested land, identify known bedding areas. Set up on the fringes of these areas, this will increase the likelihood of encountering a buck coming back from feeding areas in the morning or heading out to feed in the afternoon.
In order to succeed early in bow season, especially after the first week, be mobile with your strategy. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will be to tag a buck early in the year.