It’s hot! With recent heat indexes soaring near triple digits in much of the country, that last thing on your mind might be the fall deer hunting seasons. Preparing for them shouldn’t be, however. Regardless of the heat and humidity, if you expect to have success this fall, then you’d better get busy checking off boxes now.
As each day finds bucks’ antlers adding more inches, setting up and placing trail cameras is important if you want to know what kinds of bucks you have running around. They will also let you know where they are and are not frequenting.
Water sources are always good places to set up a camera or two. Also look for well-used trails and set one up wherever you find one, especially if you find an area where more than one trail come together.
Avoid putting them in areas that will cause you to be too invasive in order to check them. You don’t want to spook deer or allow them to pattern you before the season starts. If you’ve splurged and bought cameras that send the photos directly to your tablet or phone, then this is not a concern.
Scouting doesn’t start as season draws near; it should be a continuous process thought the year. Scouting in the summer is as good as any. It allows you to identify areas and travel routes and feeding areas that the deer are using when there is no hunting pressure, which can be invaluable for those first early season sits.
It also enables you to see how many, and what types of bucks, you have hanging around. Often, they are in bachelor groups this time of year, making getting an eye on them easier.
There is no need to go deep all the time on your summer scouting trips. A lot of the time, you can spot bachelor groups of bucks and other deer feeding in crop fields from the road. Or consider parking and walking a short distance to a fencerow, hill, or other easy spot to get to where you can glass the area without tromping through the woods.
You’ll be surprised what a little scouting can do that trail cameras can’t. You’ll see well-worn trails, old rubs and scrapes, and bedding and feeding areas that cameras can’t find.
Treestand preparation and placement
We all hate it, and a lot of people put it off until closer to the opener, but putting your treestands up and preparing them now is a good idea.
There are valid points to wanting to wait until closer to season to hang stands. Deer patterns can change between summer and fall, requiring you to move a stand or two after putting them up, but overall, where you place your stands now will still be the right decision come fall. For those always occurring instances where you notice deer using an area during season where you don’t have one hung, keep an extra or two in the garage for just this reason, but you don’t want to wait until season approaches to hang them all.
If you have properly done your scouting and studied your trail cameras, you should already know where you need to hang them.
Sure, it may require torturous hikes through standing crop fields to hang them now versus later, but the extra work now will not only make you more prepared come fall, it will allow you to leave the area less disturbed as the season approaches.
Hanging stands, all of the trimming, etc., that goes along with it takes a ton of time; time that really isn’t available as hunting season approaches when there are other things to do and get ready. Doing it now may be hot and sweaty work, but will be so worth it come fall.
Besides just hanging stands and trimming shooting lanes, think a bit deeper. Clearing brush, weed-eating or weed-killing entry and exit trails will make getting to and from your stands a lot quieter. Obviously, this isn’t necessary for stands on field edges and the like, but for those hung in the timber, think about getting rid of as much of the debris as you can along the trail in order to make those calm morning entries as quiet as possible.
That’s right, depending on what you intend to plant, now is the time to plant food plots if you intend to have any.
A wide variety of crops can be planted this time of year. Beets, oats, tubers, alfalfa, and greens like brassicas are all best when planted in the summer heat. They are heat and drought resistant and come up in time to coincide with when you plan to be hunting over them.
Yep, there really is no off-season when it comes to serious deer hunting. In fact, if you do it right, there is a lot more work to be done now than once it’s time to be out hunting, so don’t let summer get away without knocking some of these things out.