Skip to main content

Anticipating Autumn: Early Deer Season Preparation

I started whitetail hunting when I was the tender age of five. And I began my fishing career a year or so earlier. So to say I've been a lifelong addict of both woods and water is hardly exaggerating things.

Depending on the time of year, the degree of my interest in one versus the other varies, same as yours. Sure, I'm "mostly" a whitetail guy, but when the trout are rising well to dry flies or the white bass are schooling under birds, I can be drawn to the water without much hesitation. It's all part of being an all-around sportsman, I suppose. And it's part of what keeps things interesting. But it also can cause us to lose track of where we are in our preparations for fall.

With summer rounding into view, we find ourselves pulled in more directions than usual. The time to hunt turkeys, mushrooms and shed antlers has passed, so many will be grabbing their fishing gear and heading for the nearest lake, creek or bay. It might not be summer on the calendar, but with an early stretch of hot weather hitting much of the U.S., a lot of outdoorsmen are about to get their first taste of angling for the year.


But let's not forget there are still plenty of things to be doing on the hunting side. Granted, it's a long time until even the earliest whitetail seasons open, but it's certainly not too early to be getting ready. The most obvious parts of that preparation involve habitat management and off-season shooting.


If your warm-season food plots are up and growing (and nearly all of them are, especially with this early spring), you might want to check to be sure they're progressing as they should. April showers bring more than just May flowers — they also bring weed problems to a lot of food plots. So ask yourself if you need to consider some weed control measures. And if you didn't put at least one exclusion cage in each plot before the growing season began, go ahead and do that. Comparing the growth inside and outside a cage is the most reliable way to figure out how much of the forage you're growing is actually being eaten.

Even if your food plots are doing perfectly well on their own, for sure you'll want to get going with that off-season shooting. For most of us, that means archery. It might seem a very long time until bow season starts, but it really isn't. Before you know it, you'll be climbing into that first tree stand or ground blind of the season . . . and you don't want to find yourself wishing you'd shot more.

Or more realistically. I try to do a good bit of my off-season bow shooting from various positions, including kneeling on the ground or seated on a chair. Not every shot opportunity is textbook, so you want to have tried a range of postures and angles before the moment of truth arrives. It's a confidence builder and could show you subtle adjustments that are necessary for making the big shot when it happens. I even like to wear my early-season hunting garments during such practice.


And if you're one of those folks who travel to Iowa to hunt, or simply want to some day, go online this week and get your  permit application in. The deadline is June 3, and applications are made online. Few whitetail states have lotteries for their permits, but with limited tags available by zone, Iowa is one of them.

My outfitter buddy Aaron Volkmar, who owns Tails of the Hunt in famed Zone 4, notes that even if you're not looking to hunt Iowa this season, if you think you might in the future, you can go ahead and buy a preference point instead of putting in for a permit. The same June 3 deadline applies for that. It takes several preference points to get drawn in some of Iowa's best trophy areas, especially for bow season, so buying a point now could be a wise move.

So as you look for that favorite barbecue recipe and get the boat ready to put in the water this weekend, stop for a moment and ponder the question of whether or not you also need to be getting your deer season in order. Fall just isn't that far off.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Dr. Deer: Protein Supplementation

Dr. Deer: Protein Supplementation

For many hunters and land managers, feeding the herd is now a popular management activity. Here's the research behind doing it right.

Creating Warm-Season Food Plots

Creating Warm-Season Food Plots

On this edition of "Deer Factory," Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss tactics for establishing warm-season food plots.

Gordon

Gordon's First NAW Hunt

This segment features Gordon Whittington's very first on camera hunt for North American Whitetail.

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Deer Dog: Shed Conditioning

Jeremy Moore talks about the importance of your deer dog's physical conditioning.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

So easy to make, this Venison Queso Dip Recipe can be whipped up in as little as 30 minutes.Venison Queso Dip Recipe Venison Recipes

Venison Queso Dip Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

So easy to make, this Venison Queso Dip Recipe can be whipped up in as little as 30 minutes.

Good location is just part of the equation.The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

Be prepared to take care of the carcass and cape after downing your trophy buck.Gear Planning for After the Kill Shot Gear

Gear Planning for After the Kill Shot

Mark Kayser

Be prepared to take care of the carcass and cape after downing your trophy buck.

See More Trending Articles

More Early Season

James Kroll heads to Texas to take part in his first handgun whitetail hunt.Texas Pre-Rut Handgun Whitetail Hunt Early Season

Texas Pre-Rut Handgun Whitetail Hunt

NAW TV - August 09, 2017

James Kroll heads to Texas to take part in his first handgun whitetail hunt.

Follow these tips for getting out there and taking advantage of the early season opportunities.8 Tips to Shoot a Buck on Opening Day Early Season

8 Tips to Shoot a Buck on Opening Day

Bernie Barringer

Follow these tips for getting out there and taking advantage of the early season opportunities.

Here are five factors that might make you rethink your October complacency.5 Reasons to Hunt October Early Season

5 Reasons to Hunt October

Bernie Barringer

Here are five factors that might make you rethink your October complacency.

Mike Clerkin goes in search of Midwestern whitetails in Illinois.Pre-Rut Illinois Whitetail Muzzleoader Hunt Early Season

Pre-Rut Illinois Whitetail Muzzleoader Hunt

NAW TV - January 14, 2018

Mike Clerkin goes in search of Midwestern whitetails in Illinois.

See More Early Season

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now