What's the best thing about leap year? That's easy: It gives us one more day to get ready for next deer season.
These preparations can take many forms, and not all apply to every hunter. On your land, the big question might be whether or not that big 9-pointer you chased all fall made it through the winter alive and well. Thus, most of what you have going on right now is shed hunting and post-season scouting for some better stand locations.
Meanwhile, some hunter two miles down the road might be pondering how much of what to put in for food plots this spring. And yet another local guy is sitting in his home office every evening, doing online research about season dates and license application deadlines for that dream whitetail hunt out west.
All of these are valid ways to spend at least part of the off-season, and all can have a direct impact on how one's 2012 hunts turn out. If you haven't already started your own preparations, it's high time to begin.
Whitetail hunting is by law a seasonal activity. At the same time, for us serious addicts the activities surrounding it know no legal time limits. We view whitetails as the focus of a year-round lifestyle. As a result, sometimes we almost lose track of where one season ends and another begins. Even as we're thinking about the season that just wrapped up, we're trying to figure out how to apply what we just learned (or think we learned), so we can be more successful on hunts yet to come.
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Some hunters simply aren't that good at making the seasonal transition without a hitch. And the reasons for that vary. Often, other obligations and interests take priority. At other times, it's a simple result of burnout. A long hunting season can take a lot out of a person, especially if it ended with tags left unfilled or taxidermists left unvisited.
Another problem is that some hunters simply don't realize how helpful it is to get things done early, especially if the goal is to shoot a mature buck. By waiting too long to zero in on a better hunting area, to scout more productive stand setups or to make habitat improvements, they unwittingly set themselves up for another round of frustration.
(REALTED: Shed Hunting No, No's)
Of course, not everyone takes whitetail hunting all that seriously. Do you think about deer every day of the year? I do, and it's been that way for my entire adult life. Granted, I'm in the "deer business," but I know plenty of non-professionals who share that mindset. Call it an obsession if you wish, but we're really into whitetails, whether it's the middle of the rut or the middle of May. That's just the way it is.
And there are far worse addictions than that!