When the season ends, some hunters think their work is done until next season. Though if you know and love your deer hunting, you’ll be well aware that the whole deer hunting
process is actually a 12-month activity. If you’re sitting around watching your calendar,
counting down the days till the season starts again, then you’re missing out big time.
Getting things right during the off-season can be the difference between a successful deer
hunt and a complete washout. Here are 5 things that you can be doing to best prepare
yourself for the start of the season, and ensure that this upcoming deer season is your best
Scouting and Shed Hunting
Scouting should be high on your to-do list when preparing for the deer hunting season.
Scout the land and just generally check out the areas you intend to hunt in to see if there
are any obvious signs of recent activity. Some things to look out for are bedding ground,
grazing marks, trails and feeding activity. Exercise some caution here though, as you don’t
want to be continually snooping around a common deer spot as they’ll move elsewhere.
If there is still snowfall on the ground postseason, then you can get a much better idea of
what route the deer may take during the season. Shed hunting season also gives you a great
idea of the size of the deer potentially present for next season, as well as the location of the
antlers to give you a better idea of where to look during the season for the deer.
Habitat Management & Feeding
Simply put – look after the deer. Depending on who owns the land and whether you have
permission to do so, you should be looking to improve the land that the deer use for the
upcoming season. This can include planting more trees for cover, cutting some brushes
down and clearing some shooting lanes. Create more bedding and suitable land for the deer
to sleep and graze on.
As well as keeping the land in top shape for the deer, you should look to make sure that you
look after the health of the deer also. This is the perfect time to improve food plots and your
feeding program. Get all the feeders setup, and ready to go with food as soon as possible.
Put your time and money into providing lots of quality minerals and supplements all year
round for the deer. Ensuring the quality of the deer ensures the quality of your hunt during
Trail Camera Surveying
This ties in with the scouting and surveying mentioned above. As stated, one of the obvious
problems with you scouting a potential deer area consistently is that you could drive them
completely out of the area.
One option that reduces the chance of spooking the deer but may require some investment
is the use of a good trail camera. Simply attaching to a tree, they offer 24/7 scouting for you
and giving you a great insight into deer activity. Note down and keep any findings that could
potentially lead you to a big catch.
Depending on which state you’re in, coyote hunting is a great alternative to keep you sharp
and also manage the predatory threat levels for the deer. By shooting some coyote, you’re
keeping yourself active and out there on the field. You’ll also be helping the deer numbers
for the upcoming season, which ultimately gives you a much better chance of that big catch.
If it’s an option for you, then it’s a no-brainer.
Gear & Equipment Inspection
The last thing you need is for your gear to fail you on the day of your hunt. Offseason is a
perfect opportunity to get your guns out and give them a good clean, as well as giving them
a quick test out. It also gives you the chance to practice and shake off any offseason rust
while you’re at.
The offseason is also prime time for checking out the condition of your tree stand and
ensures that you don’t have a major problem with your stand during the season. Such
problems can require a lot of attention and potentially spook the deer you’re after,
especially if you have to adjust things during the actual hunting season. Get things seen to in
advance, go out to your tree stand and give it an inspection to make sure it is still safe and
secure, replacing any straps, etc. that are a little worse for wear.
Check through all your gear and equipment beforehand to make sure everything still works
safely and without any issues. It should only take a day or so to go through everything and
may end up saving you from making a complete blunder when the season starts.
These are just 5 things that you could be doing with your time during the deer hunting
offseason, though, in reality, the list is never-ending. The point is that no matter how much
preparation you have done, there’s always something that you can do to enhance the health
of the deer population further. There’s certainly no reason to be bored or suffer cabin fever
during the off-season months. If you’re serious about deer hunting, then you should be
serious about your preparation. And please, don’t leave everything until the opening day!