Early Season Bowhunting Can Be Excellent!

Most bowhunters of my acquaintance tend to focus on all of the negatives of early season bowhunting. They include that there are too many bugs; it is too hot; the cover is too thick; the deer are not moving; and the rut is not even a glimmer in a buck’s eye. All of these are true, but so are these reasons to hunt the early season.

One: Deer are never more relaxed than they are at this time. Even two weeks after the opener it is a whole different story.

Gary Clancy

Two: Deer are rarely as easy to pattern as they are prior to opening day. That’s because in many areas of the country bow season opens while deer are still in their late-summer program of getting to the food source well before the end of shooting light. Since most of these food sources are in the form of low-growing crops, such as alfalfa and soybeans, the deer are easy to see. Spot a buck in a field once, that’s a sighting. See him in that same field again the next evening and you are talking a pattern. Watch that deer often enough to know, which trail he is using to enter the field and you have a prime location for an evening stand.

Sure the rut is fun to hunt, but bucks are far less predictable during that hallowed time than they are right now.

Three: That heavy cover, which you cuss because it makes it difficult for you to see deer, also makes it tough for the deer to pick you off in a treestand. You can hunt a lot of places now which you can’t hunt later, just because of that lush background cover.

Four: The same hot weather which makes you thirsty, makes deer thirsty, too. This is one of the two peak times to be hunting water sources. The other is during the rut when bucks are on the prowl and working up a lather.

Speaking of water, deer tend to drink before they feed in the evening and again in the morning on their way back to their bedding area.

Five: No competition. I’ve hunted public land during the first week of the season and had it all to myself. The same WMA during the rut is swarming with hunters.

Six: No need to tough it out all day on stand. An hour or so in the evening is all you need and maybe an hour in the morning if you are lucky enough to find a good morning stand. The reason I stress the evening hunt early in the season is that you stand a much greater risk of bumping deer on the way to the stand in the morning than you do in the evening. I only hunt mornings if I can find a stand well removed from where the deer are feeding and if I know that I can access the stand without bumping the deer I’m trying to hunt.

Seven: If you tag a buck the first week, you can plan that trip to Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska or wherever your dream destination might be.

Clancy’s Early Season Hunting Tip
One of the biggest obstacles to early season hunting is that very often you are set-up in a stand overlooking a field. If you don’t get a shot, odds are good that the field is going to be holding some deer when shooting hours end and it is time to get down.

How do you get down without spooking the deer out of the field and in the process educating them to your position and the fact that it’s hunting season once again? The best answer is to have someone drive a vehicle right to your stand (with permission from the landowner of course and without damage to the crops) or as close to the field edge as they can get to pick you up. Deer are accustomed to vehicles and they will simply run off of the field and back into the woods and return minutes after your “taxi” has picked you up. Using this method you can milk four or five evenings out of a field edge stand instead of just one.

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