A Late-Summer Deer Hunting Checklist
In the words of the great baseball legend Yogi Berra, it's getting late early. We're only in the month of August, but that also means we are several weeks to a month away from many deer seasons opening up. Some of you folks in places like South Carolina or Tennessee are looking at a matter of days before you can hit the deer woods.
If you have yet to make preparations in anticipation of the upcoming deer season, now may be the time to get rolling. There is a laundry list of things that the hardworking deer hunter can do to make things better once that opener rolls around. And while we did say that it is getting late early, you still have time to get those tasks crossed off of the list.
So let's look at a late-summer deer hunting checklist that could potentially apply to the majority of whitetail hunters across America. Keep in mind that things can change drastically from region to region. It may be prime time to plant a food plot at my place here in Ohio, but the completely incorrect time to do that down in South Alabama.
1. Pull Your Trail Camera Cards or Scout
It's awfully hard to finalize your game-plan for the fall without some scouting information in your back pocket. Even if you hunt the exact same spot year in and year out, things change from year to year. Especially if you are trying to chase down a specific mature buck. I believe that it's best to form your fall game-plan based upon scouting information. Whether you glass from a distant road or run trail cameras like I do, scouting information is key. Now is the time to pull those SD cards from trail cams if you got on top of things and set them out in June or July. If you are a low-tech or no-tech hunter, review your scouting observations and go from there. Informed hunters are often the best hunters.
I'm going to lump supplemental feeding, minerals, and food plotting into one section here. It's all about providing. Providing that extra kick of nutrition to the deer that you plan to hunt in the fall. A healthy deer herd should be the goal of all whitetail hunters. Food sources aren't just about healthy deer herds. It's just as much about attracting deer to your piece of ground. If you are legally able to provide minerals, this is an excellent time of the year to refresh your mineral stations. Bucks are solidifying those last few inches of antler before the fall. Even things like corn or pellet feeders can be great in providing deer with that extra kick before the antler-growing season is over. August is a great time to get food plots in the ground if you're in the northern half of the country. Successful fall food plots are not always the easiest thing to develop, but they can yield massive benefits when it's time to climb into your stand.
3. Hang Stands or Set Blinds
When you are armed with prime scouting information and you have deer preferring your property over others, you are ready to hang those stands and set your blinds. Now, it should not go without saying that preparing early is best. A lot of people will tell you that hanging a stand or setting a blind in August is against the rules. I am not one of those people. I believe that we can get away with a good deal of prep work before the month of September. September is when the big changes truly occur. I would also prefer to hang my stands and set my blinds when I am armed with solid information from my cameras or scouting trips. Especially if I am hunting on public ground or hitting a new piece of private property. Hanging a stand in March will only benefit you if the big buck you're after happens to be hanging out in the area 8 months later. Things can change a lot in 8 months, so I'd prefer to get myself situated once I have some information in hand.
4. Establish Mock-Scrapes
You can always establish mock-scrape locations closer to the actual fall, but I have seen incredible results from getting those mock-scrapes established early. It seems as if deer are more apt to hit your mock-scrapes if they become accustomed to them for several weeks or even months. Regardless of when you decide to establish those mock-scrapes, there is no doubt on the benefits of doing so. Mock-scrapes are absolutely dynamite when it comes to drawing early-fall bucks in to trail cameras. They can also serve as pretty dynamite locations to hunt in the early-season. It may not be a bad idea to go ahead and get those scrapes going before the season starts.
5. Organize Gear and STAY OUT!
There's nothing like the satisfaction and high anticipation that comes once you have all of your ducks in a row and the season is just off in the distance. Unfortunately for a lot of hunters, this is a time where they drop the ball. They can see the season closing in and they believe that it's best to keep plugging away. Hard work pays off, right? Folks end up over-pressuring their hunting spots and truly hurting their hunting in the months to come. I did mention that you can still get away with a little bit of intrusion during the month of August, but my tone changes tenfold once September arrives in Ohio. Remember, that's in my particular area of Ohio and not across the country. You have to get familiar with your own situation. But there is nothing worse than letting anticipation force you into the field when you shouldn't be there. It's best to get all of your essentials in order and count the days. Shoot your bow, organize all of the gear you will rely on, and enjoy the other aspects of life. The overzealous hunter can do a lot of damage in the days just before the season.