With about a month to go before archery season, now’s a good time to get out there and see what’s happening with the deer, especially if you are looking for blacktail and muleys.
We had a lot of rain last year in the west after a big drought so things are bound to change. Getting out early is a definite edge, especially after a few years of poor hunting. Here are 6 tips to get ready for archery season.
Look for new sign
I visited one of my favorite spots recently and noticed a lot more food sources and water than in previous years. After cruising the route I usually take when I’ve got my bow and tag, there were some new game trails and new activity in places that showed no sign last season. Learning to read tracks, study the environment and to see the whole picture are essential in scouting.
Visit sites with activity often
Deer, especially blacktail, are very tricky and wise. Not only do they know when hunting season comes around, they also pay attention to intruders. I like to visit a good spot a half dozen or more times before the season starts and scout at the times I would normally hunt. Doing this casually alerts the deer to your presence and they tend to calm down if they don’t feel threatened. Don’t wait till opening day to surprise them.
Don’t pressure during scouts
If you do have luck spotting a good one (hopefully you’ll be practicing your stalking skills), don’t put pressure on him. Make a mental note and keep going. As you move away, look carefully for sign including routes in and out of where he was. Usually, they follow the same pattern as the year before but things can change drastically after a good year of rain.
Expand your horizons
I’m a creature of habit like most humans and I tend to stick to the spots I know the best. But after the weather pattern changes, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find activity where there was none. This is a good year to expand your horizons, especially because the abundance of greenery and water. I like to set my game camera out for a few days and see what’s walking around.
Another thing I like to do is to take my 3D archery target with me when I go out for a day. I find that I am more accurate when I practice somewhere other than my back yard. When I’m out scouting and have a little down-time, I move my target around and practice shooting uphill, downhill and in areas where it might be trickier to make a good kill shot—that’s usually where we get surprised.
Glass from a ridge line
Deer hunting, especially with a bow, takes a lot of practice and patience and that’s why I like to discipline myself to sit and glass from a ridge line. It hones my senses and re-trains my eyes to see movement. It also makes me sit still and shut off my mind. After a year of looking at the TV and computer, I find that I have to get back to total awareness if I want to be successful.
Photo credit: Wikimedia