By Harrison Hoegh
Besides the locations where a few bucks are still traveling in the late afternoon, during the first few weekends I focus on not messing up locations for later phases of the season. But there are a few habits of deer that I try to take advantage of to can increase my chances without having to hunt the top tier stands. Here are a few things to consider for the early season.
Observe: the two most important times to watch fields are the early season and the late season. Just like late muzzleloader season if you are in the wrong field chances are you won’t see anything all day. I will be in a stand October 1st because it’s too exciting not to be, but after opening day I will spend a great deal of time finding where the deer are hanging out each day instead of sitting in stands hoping to get lucky.
The Observation Stand
I place a few stands far from bedding areas. Basically, a location that is not a major travel corridor during the rut, that may see some action in early October, but more importantly where I can view deer from a distance. These stands are located on high points that overlook stands that are likely to be successful as the pre-rut picks up. I have a stand in the corner of a field uphill from a draw that is hard to scout from the road. Last year, on October 24th, I saw a small eight point working down a known travel route on an afternoon hunt, and the next day I shot a buck at 9:30 am at a prime pre rut location. Being in a stand that you can see whether the pre rut is picking up can be huge to tune you into when you should move to your better stands.
The Doe Stand
Shooting a doe in the early season relaxes a hunter by adding confidence in the shot. These stands allow you to scout a field non invasively and you might just get lucky and have a buck walk by. Also shooting a doe will balance out the herd and create better hunting in the future. Chances are there is a group of two or three does that feeds in the same obscure spot every evening. Grass strips on the edges of fields that will offer little food or cover after harvest are often locations for these stands.
The Concealed Stand
Many deer we see feeding in the afternoons are eating soybeans near a cornfield. Deer love to travel near cornfields for added security, and may even be bedding there as well. However, they do not want to eat corn at this stage in the game, and they do not want to travel through corn if they do not have to. If you can hunt a stand near a bean field that has recently been harvested with a cornfield nearby for protection you may tag a buck in the early season.
Most likely there will be a stand location on your land that has a combination of these characteristics, this spot may become a go to early October location. Each one of these stands offers a slightly different approach from the pre rut location. Changing your game-plan slightly may be the trick to being successful in the early season. Good luck and happy hunting.