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.

Recommended for You

Good location is just part of the equation. Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

Improve the nutritional benefits that your land offers local deer. Land Management

No Matter the Season, Deer Orchard Work Brings Big Benefits to Whitetails

Lynn Burkhead - June 27, 2019

Improve the nutritional benefits that your land offers local deer.

Who says you can't be in two places at once? Other

Real-Time Intel: Moultrie Mobile

Gordon Whittington - July 22, 2019

Sponsored By
Moultrie Mobile

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Imported video NAW14-WyomingWhitDr. James Kroll and Gordon Whittington are in Eastern Wyoming hunting whitetails with their crossbows.etailCrossbowHunt.mp4

North American Whitetail - Canadian Conundrum

North American Whitetail - Canadian Conundrum

Pat Hogan heads to Saskatchewan, Stan talks Browning Hells Canyon clothing, and Dr. Kroll tells how vital it is to manage your hog population.

Fundamentals of the Bow Selection

Fundamentals of the Bow Selection

On this edition of "On Target," Pat Hogan highlights the importance of applying the fundamentals of the draw cycle when it comes to the bow you select.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's fertile United States

Best Spots for Bowhunting Kentucky Trophy Bucks

Gordon Whittington - July 21, 2016

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's...

Improve the nutritional benefits that your land offers local deer. Land Management

No Matter the Season, Deer Orchard Work Brings Big Benefits to Whitetails

Lynn Burkhead - June 27, 2019

Improve the nutritional benefits that your land offers local deer.

Good location is just part of the equation. Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

See More Stories

More Early Season

Mike Clerkin goes in search of Midwestern whitetails in Illinois. Early Season

Pre-Rut Illinois Whitetail Muzzleoader Hunt

NAW TV - January 14, 2018

Mike Clerkin goes in search of Midwestern whitetails in Illinois.

 The author tagged this Minnesota buck last September 19. Some bowhunters write off the early Early Season

Early Season Deer Hunting: Get Off the Couch

Tony J Peterson - September 28, 2015

The author tagged this Minnesota buck last September 19. Some bowhunters write off the early

Stan Potts heads to Montana with his rifle in search of a Big Sky buck. Early Season

Montana Whitetail First-Day Success

NAW TV - July 27, 2018

Stan Potts heads to Montana with his rifle in search of a Big Sky buck.

See More Early Season

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×