by Eric Hall
Whitetail deer season may be over, but now is the time to be preparing for the upcoming season. Today we will examine three key things that we can do in April to stack the odds for fall whitetail success.
Practice with your bow
The importance of practice with hunting equipment prior to the beginning of the season cannot be overstated. Years ago, I would begin shooting my bow in late August. I have since adapted my philosophy and began to shoot almost year round. If the weather allows, I try and shoot every weekend beginning in April through the entire whitetail season in February. More time spent shooting leads to more confidence that I will be on target when it counts.
Beginning to shoot early allows for some experimentation if I choose to change my arrow shafts, broadheads etc. The last thing I want to do is find myself in late September behind the eight ball with a change to my setup. Confidence is key when deer hunting. Knowing that my bow is dialed in long before opening day, I am free later on to focus on the other details that can make or break a hunt.
Prepare Stand Sites
April is the perfect time to finalize stand locations ahead of the upcoming whitetail season. Many of the best hunters believe that you must be done preparing your locations in April to allow the woods to remain undisturbed for five to six months.
During March and April, the deer sign is still visible in the woods from the season prior. Right now, the 2017 deer sign is abundant ahead of the spring green up so zeroing in on a key funnel or bedding location is much easier. Scouting and preparing stand locations is least impactful now because even if you bump deer, they will have plenty of time to relax and return. Deer will have time to get used to cut shooting lanes and trimmed trees long before we set foot in the stand. Offseason pressure can be equally as damning as in-season pressure to mature bucks so plan ahead.
Begin Glassing and running Trail Cameras
We have been watching a 14 deer herd feed in and out of the 40-acre parcel of land behind my home for the past four weeks. The herd is on their feet ahead of the summer feeding patterns, refueling on any fresh green browse that is coming up. It is great to see so many deer on their feet and learning how they are relating to the topography. While these patterns will change as food become more available, the way the deer use the land to move from point A to point B is great intel for fall success.
I like to ask myself “WHY” a lot during this time of year. Why are the deer feeding here? Why are they entering and exiting at this point? Why do they feel comfortable here with the current wind? I begin to take notes on weather fronts, wind conditions, food sources and will continue this process with each sighting. The intel I gain may be on a large doe family group but can pay dividends during the rut. Knowing where does feed during specific conditions will lead to a more educated stand choice in late October and early November when the boys of fall are on the prowl.
April is also when I will place trail cameras in strategic locations and let them run for a month or even longer before pulling the cards. I place these cameras at locations I can get to them easily without disturbing bedding areas and bumping the whitetails. I check the cameras on a perfect wind in the middle of the day to avoid the morning and evening deer movement. Like with glassing, the intel is added to the list as I mentally prepare for the upcoming season.
Successful whitetail hunting begins with preparation and attention to detail. Being ahead of the curve by putting in the time in April will lead to increased odds of harvest success in the fall. Take the time to prepare and above all enjoy the process. The 2018 whitetail season opener will be here before we know it! Will you be ready?