As this fall progresses and transitions into winter, we are going to closely evaluate what it means to be a devoted whitetail hunter 365 days a year and what common thread binds us all together in our successes. The effort you assert during your pre-season scouting sessions will ultimately affect the outcome of your hunts, but it doesn’t stop there.
Once the season is underway, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to quit scouting, and once the season is over, staying home until opening day will certainly not put you in the driver’s seat. Stay tuned with North American Whitetail this season as we fully evaluate how to be efficient as a 365-days-a-year player.
Whether you live 10 minutes or three hours from your property, you need to maximize your efforts in order to get a firm grip on the habits of the local whitetail population. There is no substitute for spending time on foot walking through your properties, but there are times when staying out of the woods is essential; it can take years to intimately know a particular piece of land.
Herein, we’ll discuss a few things that will improve the amount and quality of information you will gather by scouting, regardless of when, but we are also going to look at strategies specific to the pre-season and early season. This is your chance to make any tactical and last minute adjustments to your approach in an effort to capitalize on the early-season feeding pattern.
If you only take one thing from this article I hope it is that you begin keeping a journal to document your efforts and encounters. I cannot over-emphasize the value of having this information at your fingertips. Only after you invest in this aspect of outdoor observation will you fully grasp that documentation will help you kill more and bigger whitetails. Beyond that, it’s free.
The information you keep can be as elaborate as you like, all the way down to the last detail, or you can keep it brief and to the point, documenting the weather conditions, stand location/food source and number of deer encountered. The bottom line when maintaining a journal is it needs to contain highlights that were unique and applicable to your next outing, even if it seems irrelevant at the time.
Being able to look back at how you reacted to certain situations in the past is how you apply what you learn in the woods each fall. Whether you carry a notebook in your pack, or you update it each time after you return home, just the simple fact you took the time to note your learning experiences could mean the difference between peeling the adhesive cover from the back of your tag or accidentally putting it through the laundry for the third time.
Some of the greatest minds in whitetail hunting today understand the importance of taking your pre-season work to the extreme, and their results speak for themselves. To help me illustrate the endless value on this topic is Midwestern whitetail fanatic Terry Drury, who is the elder half of the legendary duo known as the Drury Brothers.
“We look at whitetail scouting from more of an observatory standpoint, and we are dedicated to watching, observing and documenting the whitetail’s habits as there is always something new to learn,” Terry explained. “Understanding the travel patterns of a whitetail is essential to how often you encounter him during the season, but recognizing the changes of his habits as the season progresses will help you stay one step ahead him.”
Drury explains that the late summer and early fall pattern revolves around green food sources, and often soybeans. Late summer is the time when bucks are really coming into their own as their antlers are done growing, and they will begin to shed their velvet by the last week of August and going into early September.