4 Summer Projects for Better Deer Hunting This Fall | Deer Management
No matter if you are hunting big mature whitetails in the hardwood hills of the Midwest or chasing full fanned gobblers in the mountains of Montana or the swamps of the south, each of us feels something magical when we are out in the great outdoors. Hunting is a sport and obsession that helps us as humans connect with nature and the animals we are chasing on a whole other level, unlike any other sport can. That is why when the final day of season has come to an end, and the dreaded “offseason” pushes its way on the scene, we as hunters can have difficulty adjusting to the change. Luckily preparing for hunting season can be a 365 day a year hobby, and these 4 summer projects for better deer hunting this fall will keep you satisfied.
Luckily, as many successful hunters have learned, no matter if you are a deer hunter, turkey hunter or enjoy chasing small game the hunting season doesn’t have to end with the sunset on closing day. In fact, with a little ambition and drive you can not only spend your offseason thinking about opening day but also improving your opportunity for success come fall. Much like any sport, success always comes down to a few basic things and the sport of hunting is no different. Success is typically a result of timing, preparation and a little bit of luck sprinkled in. While luck is obviously something that you cannot directly impact, the other two factors you can influence with a little time and effort. The offseason provides hunters with not only a much deserved (and needed) break from the woods, but also provides an excellent opportunity to regroup and begin to use what you have learned during the fall season in preparation for opening day. These 4 summer projects for better deer hunting this fall will directly influence your success.
Summer Project 1: Inventory
In the world of hunting, the word “inventory” can mean a variety of different things. From assessing the properties you hunt to determine how many bucks made it through the winter to digging into your hunting gear to see where you stand. Both of which are equally important. The offseason provides you with a great opportunity to assess both aspects which will help yield excellent results during the fall.
The spring and summer months are an excellent time to begin to evaluate your deer heard or turkey flock. Many hunters elect not to run trail cameras during this time of year for a number of reasons, ranging from issues with the summer time vegetation, heat and weather. While it is true that running summer time trail cameras can be somewhat difficult, the information you can gather can be greatly beneficial come fall.
The first of the 4 summer projects for better deer hunting this fall is running trail cameras during the offseason. This can greatly improve your ability to evaluate where you stand in terms of animal health and heard or flock quality, especially when utilized during the offseason months. Bushnell trail cameras can help deer hunters identify fawning does and fawns themselves along with capturing images of turkey broods, all of which will help you develop a sense of what the survival rate was with the wildlife on your properties. This information will be important to have during the late summer and early fall when you begin selecting which farms you want to hunt as well as helping you determine stand locations as well. One added benefit of running trail cameras during the offseason is the ability to better pattern the animals on your farm, which believe it or not, can help you when opening day rolls around.
While inventorying the animals you will be chasing come fall is very important, you cannot discuss “inventory” without also discussing hunting gear and equipment. Regardless if you are chasing big mature whitetail bucks or hard gobbling turkeys, the sport of hunting can require a lot of gear and equipment. From Hoyt bows, arrows, G5 broadheads, and deer stands to ground blinds, Thompson Center Muzzleloaders, Berretta Shotguns, and the American Whitetail Slug, the list can go on and on. For many hunters, the day after the last day of the season can be a difficult and busy time of year. Many hunters will make an attempt to go through their hunting gear to take inventory of their equipment and supplies. Many of these hunters will not lay eyes on their equipment again until right before the season opens. This can be a costly mistake.
The off season provides hunters the valuable time they need to take inventory of their equipment. Everything from going through your bow to repairing and replacing deer stands can take place during this time. The off season is great time to complete any upgrades to your deer stands, safety harness or camera equipment. The goal with this tip is for the hunter to stay proactive during the offseason, and avoid putting themselves in the situation of not having enough time to secure the equipment or complete the repairs needed to be ready for opening day.
Taking inventory of the animals on your property as well as your gear and equipment is a critical ingredient to the recipe of success. If you stay proactive during the offseason and monitor your cameras and address your equipment needs you will without a doubt be ready to go come opening day.
Summer Project 2: Assess and Address
To be a successful hunter, no matter the game species, you have to be willing to accept that there is always room for improvement. Once you have embraced the fact that you can always improve then you can begin the second of the 4 summer project for better deer hunting this fall, to “assess and address”. What the term “assess and address” really means is that as a hunter, you are always evaluating your approach and techniques to hunting. This approach is consistently effective regardless of the game species you are after, because it forces the hunter to constantly strive to improve. Complacency can be one of the biggest obstacles that can stand between success afield and failure. If you can committed to constantly assessing and addressing your efforts, then there is little chance you will become complacent.
The offseason is a great time to begin the assessing and addressing summer project. The offseason provides you with plenty of time and opportunity to think through the trials and tribulations of the previous fall, understand what went wrong and develop solutions to the problems you encountered. Now, we all go through the process of assessing and addressing while hunting, however, the offseason does provide you the opportunity to take a more formalized approach to the process. Without feeling the pressures of needing to make an equipment change or strategy change during the season, assessing your strategy for the upcoming season and utilizing information you gathered from the previous fall will greatly help you develop a game plan moving forward.
Using current information such as offseason trail camera surveys and off season scouting efforts can help paint a clearer picture of areas to improve in during the coming fall. In addition to assessing your hunting techniques, the offseason provides you the opportunity to assess your hunting gear as well, providing you with ample time to make a change in gear and become familiar with using it. There is nothing worse than feeling behind or rushed to make a significant change your hunting approach or equipment, and when you use the offseason to assess and address, feeling the pinch of being prepared come opening day becomes a thing of the past.
Summer Project 3: Form a Game Plan
Without a doubt, to be successful in the field you have to be able to capitalize on the third of the 4 summer project for better deer hunting this fall, to strategize and form a game plan. Effective game planning is simply a process in which you use all of the information available to you to develop a process that achieves a specific objective. In the case of a hunter, that usually means meat in the freezer. In the hunting world, game planning is really synonymous with scouting as the two truly go hand in hand. The offseason provides the hunter with an excellent opportunity to develop a game plan for the fall.
Too many times, hunters will work to ensure that their hunting gear and equipment are in tip top shape but will fall short when it comes time to develop their strategy. Often hunters will tend to inevitably fall back on what has either worked in the past or what they did last year. While this process can yield some successful results, it does not replace the confidence and effectiveness that is attained from spending the offseason scouting and developing your game plan.
Effective game planning truly comes down to information. There can never be too much information when you are trying to develop a strategy to successfully harvest that whitetail of your dreams or that hen’d up gobbler. There are a wide range of factors that need to be considering when developing your game plan, all of which typically require the hunter to continue to scout or take inventory of the properties they hunt, assess and address their current situation (equipment, access, etc) and use that information to develop their game plan moving forward into the fall. While it may seem a little bit overkill to put this much thought and effort into determining how you will approach hunting your properties this fall, the fact is the better prepared you are the higher your chances for success. The offseason provides you with valuable time to stop and consider all of your options in terms of hunting strategy. Don’t put off game planning until the last minute, it can be a mistake that comes back to bite you in the end.
Summer Project 4: Work on You
As hunters, we tend to sometimes overlook the fact that we can always get better. As you begin to assess and address your hunting strategy and hunting gear don’t forget to take a good hard look at the most valuable resource in your hunting arsenal, and that’s yourself! You are the fourth and final of the 4 summer projects for better deer hunting this fall!
There are always things that we can improve on, and the offseason provides the hunter with an excellent opportunity to do just that. Whether it is working on becoming a better turkey caller, or becoming a better archery shot, it is important to take time during the offseason to continue to work and improve your craft. Many hunters will not feel the need to begin refining and improving on the areas they are concerned with until closer to opening day, and by doing this they are sacrificing valuable time. No matter what the skill is, spending a couple minuets every day during the offseason on practicing or addressing the areas in which you feel weak will add up and pay large dividends during the fall hunting season.
While improving a particular skill or trait during the offseason can be extremely beneficial, do not overlook the not so obvious factors such as physical fitness as well. Hunting can be an extremely demanding sport. This is especially true when spending long days in the field chasing upland wildlife or spending time at high altitude chasing game such as elk or sheep. Don’t overlook the opportunity provided by the offseason to work on becoming a little more fit and in shape. To be successful in the field can sometimes mean walking long distances through very rugged terrain, and ensuring that you have the stamina and endurance to do what is needed to be successful can help make all the difference.
The offseason provides hunters with an opportunity to head into the new hunting season rested, refreshed and with their best foot put forward. These 4 summer projects for better deer hunting this fall will lead you in the right direction. The hunting season doesn’t have to end with closing day, and if you take the time to try these simple summer projects, you will be prepared and at the top of your game when opening day of deer season rolls around!