Make The Most Of The First Days Of Bowhunting


August 01, 2013

The anticipation of bowseason keeps hunters on their toes practicing through the dog days of summer and into the fall. Even though most of us enjoy the trials and tribulations that go along with being hunters, filling a tag early can set the tone for the rest of the season.

Anytime you can put fresh venison in the freezer in October is a good thing.

While there are a lot of theories and ideas about early season bow hunting, here are some tactics that have helped me tag an early Michigan whitetail.

Hunting On The Edge

During the early season, it’s important to locate active trails that lead into a food source. Finding these entrance and exit trails will help hunters decide where to hang a stand near the edge of a food source.

The early season is the perfect time to use a deer’s stomach as their biggest weakness. Hunting the edge of crop fields is a great way to start bowseason. During the summer and early fall, bucks are more visible feeding, this allows hunters to get a good view of them and to pattern their movements. Glassing these agriculture fields is a good way to see what bucks are located near your hunting stand. Try spending time during dusk/dawn glassing agricultural fields, try to pinpoint where deer are entering and exiting the field. Hunting the edge of these crop fields are great spots to ambush a buck when it’s still demonstrating its summer feeding patterns.

Be wary of trying to hang a stand blindly on the edge of the field without doing your homework. I have made this mistake more than once. The extra time a hunter spends scouting will pay off when it comes to early season success. Bucks have gone several months without being hunted or hassled, so this is a perfect time to use the wind and be smart.

I like to hang at least two stands that will cover the two main entrance and exit areas of the deer. It’s important to get there early and use the wind. As night starts to arrive, these agricultural fields will start to fill up with deer. The last thing you want is to spook or scare off the deer before they make it to your treestand. If the crop field is full of other deer, the bucks are much more likely to feel comfortable entering the field. Be sure to check the field and if possible, communicate with the farmer that plants and cultivates the field. There have been times I had watched several bucks all season, only to have the crops harvested before bowseason. Once the crops are off, the deer will move onto to other fields. Hunting on the edge of a crop field is a great spot to fill your first tag this fall.

Key On Water

And Oak Trees

Hunting near water in the early season is a great idea. Deer can find water in a variety of places, but they especially love having a water source close to a feeding area. Look for a watering spot within 100 yards of a food source and it’s sure to have a lot of early season action. A pond, river or small creek can provide a great spot to intercept a buck. Especially during the early season when temperatures are warm, deer will look for nearby water source that is easy to access. The hotter the weather, the more deer will look to drink. This can be especially true during October when temperatures are still warm. In addition to water, deer love oak trees. During the early season, locate an area within 100 yards of nearby acorn trees. This is usually an ideal staging area for deer. Deer will stop and eat acorns before heading into the crop field or food plot. Having a treestand near water and acorns can be essential for bowhunters looking to fill their tag quickly.

Be In Front

One of the best early season hunting tactics is to hunt before a storm front. Hunters aren’t the only ones looking for some relief from the warm early October weather. There have been times in Michigan during bowseason that temperatures have reached 80 degrees. Be ready to hunt before the temperatures drop. Bucks that were sluggish due to the heat are now up and moving. Hunting before a cold front is a great way to surprise a buck in the early season. As much as I love to bowhunt, I try to plan to be in my treestand when the temperature is getting ready to shift and drop. These cold fronts can really make a difference in deer movement. So find some an active crop field or some acorns and be ready.

The excitement and planning of the upcoming bowseason is one of my favorite Michigan traditions. Hours of scouting and shooting my bow will be put to the test starting October first. Even with all the time and thought put into hunting season, hunters are always looking for ways to fill their archery tag early. Hopefully this year these tips can help you put venison in the freezer while making the most of your first days afield.