If you have a hit list buck on camera and you are trying to get a shot at him before the rut. Here are some things to remember when trying to bring him into range early in the season.
• Scouting and preparation are the keys to finding a great early season spot. Scouting can play a big role in how well your early season goes. Using trail cameras and spending time driving around and using binoculars to check fields before dark are a great tactic for scouting right before season. Being able to pattern a bucks activity in early season will make your time easier in the fall when you know where the deer are moving and what sources they are using frequently.
• Water. Early season tends to be warm and thirsty deer will travel to creeks, small ponds, and natural springs more frequently during this part of the season. If your property doesn’t have a water source, dig a small pond in an area relatively close to a primary food source and create an easy place for deer to come and get water. You have just created a killer early season spot.
• Food. All deer need to eat so try and find a food source that the deer are comfortable coming to in shooting light. If it is a self made food plot deep in the woods that you have regular trail camera pictures of bucks hang a stand down wind and only hunt when conditions are good for the stand. If your property doesn’t have food plots find the food source that they are using and “get your back to the wall.” If it is an oak ridge that’s fine because deer love acorns so set your stand placement at the edge of a flat where there is a break in terrain such as a bank or ridge. Find the save haven food source and you’ve got yourself a prime early season spot for an encounter with a shooter buck.
• Natural barriers can be your best friend. Looking at aerial maps look for a spot where it is thin or there is a natural barrier like a creek, a ravine, a field edge, a road, or even a house that will push deer to use a narrow spot to get from one spot to another. If you can pinpoint a spot where deer are funneled from a bedding spot to a food source and can slip in undetected then you have a great chance of seeing a lot of deer traveling back and forth.
• Be patient and smart. As a hunter you need to consider all options when selecting an early season stand. Use scent free spray, check wind directions, entry and exit routes so that you are minimizing your impact on the area. Bumping deer in the early season can play a big role in rut activity in that area. Stay in your stand until it is completely dark before making your exit. If you play all your cards right and be smart you can slip in on a buck early without him even knowing you are on him.
• Don’t force it. If the only route to your stand is across a field that the buck might be feeding in before daylight breaks don’t go. Hunt that spot at night.
I hope these tips help you on early season success.