10 tips for tagging early season bucks

The absolute best time to tag an adult buck you’ve identified and found is right now, during the early season. Sure, you’ll see more deer during the November rut, but if you know where a special buck is standing, the early season can’t be beat. Not only is your money reasonably predictable, but he also sticks to a fairly small core area, and manhunters have been off his radar for months. Here are 10 tips for putting it on the wall.

1. Make a mock scratch to entice early season bucks

A pair of money early in the season works in a good line.

If you still think that scratches are just a bad thing, you need to change your way of thinking. Whitetails use scrapes year-round, and things really pick up after bucks drop velvet. Make mock scratches now, both for your camera setups and to sweeten the offer next to your best sites. Killer tip: Hang a 10-inch piece of hemp or nylon rope from the branch you’re slapping, dip the frayed end in the scent, and watch your mock scratch go from ho-hum to fire in a matter of days.

2. Watch the weather and hunt when it gets cold

You know that weather and temperature can dictate deer movement, but this is especially true now. Whitetails are shedding the clothing that kept them comfortable in 90 degrees and replacing it with one that will help them survive sub-zero temperatures. So when the temperatures feel like summer, the bucks lie on their bellies until the thermometer swings the other way. Check the forecast and when the mercury drops, get out there. This is especially true when late September summer feeding patterns turn into the so-called October lull and deer become less visible to hunters. You know what makes them more visible? A nice cool day with maybe a misty rain. Forests are never deader than on the unseasonably warm days of early October, but that can quickly turn with a cold front. So make sure you are there.

3. Enter the field and glass for big money early in the season

It’s not enough to look at street camera photos; you have to go outside and glass.

There is always a slight difference in where the money is now. Bachelor groups split up, food sources change, and core areas readjust. Cameras can pick up some of the movements bucks make in response, but for real-time updates, nothing beats pressing your face against an ID scope or binoculars. Get out there and glass the edges of the main food sources (alfalfa and soybeans on the farm, grubs in the big woods) in the last hour or two of the day to get the latest information on a great man. And if you spot a shooter, make a move on him quickly before his pattern changes again.

4. Scout for deer during Acorn Fall

The white oaks are falling now. Go and find the hottest trees.

We tend to be a little obsessed with our food plots because, after all, we planted them. But while deer appreciate our efforts, they’re not wedded to rye, wheat or brassicas—especially when the mast crops start to fall. Early season is the best time for fall white oak, as well as soft-masted treats like persimmons and apples. In some areas, red oaks begin to drop heavily in September, so don’t forget them. In any case, the key is to lace up your boots and (while avoiding known bedding areas) go find what the deer are eating in the woods.

5. Keep your early season deer stand mobile and set up on the fresh mark

With the deer herd in constant flux right now, having a mobile and flexible hunting strategy is essential. Ladder stands and box blinds might be the ticket if you’re sitting on a funnel along the way or in a late-season food plot, but the only way to lock in the food source of the moment is to have a mobile setup. useful. Sure, you can have some semi-permanent stands in some perennial early-season hotspots, but it’s essential to also have a climbing stand or lightweight pole hanger that allows you to quickly set up on the hottest mark or sightings. . .

6. Small frictions can lead to big bucks early in the season – Don’t ignore them

Even big bucks make little scrapes like this early in the season.

Forget the snapped telephone poles of last October. (Well OK, if you find one, go ahead and get excited.) But what you’re much more likely to find now are rubs that look like they were made by Rudolph, not Godzilla. In the early season, even the thinnest slicing is likely to be the work of an excellent loaf. Look for seedlings and clean them – usually near the hottest sources of food – with the newly formed bark. If you find this, you’re looking at a potential big-buck ambush site.

7. Hunt for early season bucks near water sources

Water is such a powerful attractor in warm early season weather that you can almost plan your hunt around H2O alone. If I’m hunting a new area this time of year, I’ll often just find the water, find the speed for the best mark, and sit right there. However, the ideal water setup is a stream, natural pond, or push pond that is close to safety cover and food. This is why I go to the trouble of installing small ponds in this location on most of the farm I hunt. On warm days early in the season, deer will take a drink before heading out to feed. It’s a slam-dunk setup that will pull in money now and well in the mess.

8. Don’t forget about green food sources

A nice 8-point indicator scratches into a food plot planted in Biologic.

Yes, when acorns, especially white oaks, fall early in the season, every deer in the forest is on them. But deer eat like your children eat, enjoying one thing until they feel bad and then turning to something else. And when deer want to rest from the oaks, what they return to is usually green. Think about it: Every food source in the whitetail world is drying up, and deer have the rest of the winter to gnaw on twigs, so they look for tasty foods while they can, including still-green bean plants, alfalfa, wheat, rye. , clover, peas and brassicas. Even if there is a good crop of acorns, count on the deer eating the nuts for a week, then turn your attention to the greens.

9. Hunt The Morning to Roost a Monster Buck

Most early season hunters limit their hunting to an evening feeding pattern, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out in the morning. Dawn is prime time to spot a monster slinking off the field on its way back to bed. Because early season deer tend to sleep very close to their favorite grain, there is a good chance they will enter the field from the same spot in the evening. As in turkey hunting, a roast isn’t a roast, but it greatly increases the odds of tagging the buck on your evening.

10. Rattle In An Early Season Buck

An early-season bowhunter tickles a set of buzzing horns.

Squealing horns aren’t just for messing around. The weeks after the velvet shed features a lot of sparring and some surprisingly intense fights as the bucks renegotiate the pecking order that was established earlier in the summer when the antlers were tender. Don’t make the same loud noise you would in November, but know that some judicious tickling and light snapping can draw a curious buck into bow range now.

3 bonus tips for early season money

1. Bring your deer calls

As is the case with antlers, many hunters hold all their calls until at least the end of October. But deer are vocal year-round, and a contact noise and buzz may be just the thing early in the season to drive bucks to the shooting range. And don’t forget snoring. Most hunters think this call is only used by crazy bucks itching for a fight. But it is more than that. I have used it many times to get money early in the season when nothing else works. It’s a great last call to have in your bag of tricks. -Dave Hurtau

2. Hang two supports for the target money

When you have a good early season buck entering an ag field or food plot day in and day out, it’s tempting to hang a stand right where he enters. The problem is that this time of year, bucks tend to sleep tight on food, which means you can bump it as soon as it gets inside. The solution is to hang two stands, one more aggressively placed near the entry point and a second one further up. -Stay conservative at a safe distance with a reliable wind. Start in the conservative stand and do some mock scratches nearby or call to lure your buck once he’s in the field. You can even swipe a subdominant decree to withdraw it. If none of these work, however, you can go for broke by waiting for perfect conditions and sliding into the more aggressive stance. However, you may want to stand with your bow in hand at this location. -DH

3. Hunt the Field-Edge Oaks

Early season hunters often wonder, Should I hunt the edge of the field or go to the woods and hunt acorns? But keep in mind that you don’t always have to choose. Oaks on the edges of the field become early-season magnets the moment they start to rain acorns on alfalfa, clover or soybeans, in which the bucks are already coming. Because they receive more sunlight, oak trees that slope over fields or food plots often produce bumper crops and fall early. When they do this, the deer may change their pattern a bit and enter the field under the best trees or they will enter their usual places and walk on the hottest oaks. Either way, as long as you keep an eye on which oaks at the edges of the field are dropping acorns and when, it’s a killer opportunity for you. -DH

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