The dog days of summer are upon us as the calendar flips to August. For some, the season starts in under 30 days. For me, the September 28 whitetail deer opener will be here before I know it. It is the last minute prep time before we let the woods rest prior to the season. Here are five things we can do NOW for Success Later in the 2019 whitetail hunting season.
Get those trail cameras out
Get your trail cameras out in your hunting locations. August provides great insight into what the deer herd will potentially look like come fall. Yes, home ranges can change, but knowing what deer are using the property now helps plan for the fall.
Use mock scrapes, food plots, travel corridors, etc. to set up your cameras. so that you are getting the most pictures. In some areas, it is legal to bait and use a mineral supplement to get the whitetails to “pose” for the camera. Just be sure to check your state laws before baiting.
One of my favorite places to set up a camera is on an inside corner where multiple habitat features meet. I have a spot where timber, a hayfield, and an overgrown field all meet creating a classic inside corner with multiple edges. The deer love traveling this edge structure and I get many great pictures in this spot. This is the spot where I got pictures of Mr. Crabs in 2018.
Be careful not to check your cameras too often or on the wrong wind. It may feel like Christmas when we pull the card, but if we go in too often we are doing more harm than good. This time of year the whitetail deer are typically bedded close to food. The wrong wind or too much human disturbance will alert a mature deer more often than not. I plan on letting my cameras sit for 30 days and only pulling the card on the right wind and hopefully using rain to help wash my scent away.
Check your tree stands
Be sure to take a quick walkthrough of any stand locations I have not visited. Take the time to make sure all shooting lanes are open and replace any straps that are over two years old or show signs of damage. I leave my ladder stands up year over year and this is a necessary step to ensure my hunts are safe.
While checking stands is important for safety, it is also important to be sure that someone hasn’t stolen the stand either. I had one ladder stand stolen a few years ago and I was glad I checked prior to the season opener. I was mad enough that it was stolen but it would have been even worse had I shown up on the opening day of deer season to find it gone.
Scent control is important to me during this time as the whitetail season opens in just two months. I will spray down and wear rubber boots when I am in the woods. I also like to try to make these checks either before or during a light rain. As stated earlier, the rain dilutes the human scent profile left in the woods.
Plan your whitetail rut vacation
Get those vacation days in. Now is the time to get the late October and November vacation days requested. (Honestly, you probably should have done this already.) Where I work it is first come, first served when it comes to time off work. I normally like to have my vacation in before August so that I am in my tree stand during the whitetail rut.
If you are one of the luck who do not need to give advance notice to use your time off, good for you. For the rest of us time is of the essence, do not risk not having the time off you need this fall.
Shoot your bow
This is a recurring theme because proficiency is paramount to success. Shoot your bow to be sure everything is sighted in and functioning properly.
Archery hunters, the more we shoot the more confidence we will have in the deer woods. There are enough things that go wrong when hunting whitetail deer, do not let preparation be one of them. SHOOT, SHOOT SHOOT!!!
Put in fall food plots
Many people missed the spring/summer food plot this year due to the unseasonably wet weather. It was just too wet to mow, spray or turn the plot over. The weather has dried up enough now to begin planning for the fall.
The majority of the fall blends of food plot seed recommend planting in mid to late August depending on the zone you live in. Most varieties need 45 to 60 days prior to the first frost to establish a good fall whitetail deer plot. Be sure to check manufacturer recommendations for optimal planting dates.
With every passing day, I get more excited for the start of the 2019 whitetail deer season. Get out and get these 5 things done prior to the month’s end so you can let your woods rest in September. It is time to get ready for a great 2019 whitetail season.