Most early season deer hunting strategies include setting up near a food source. However, you can up your odds of killing a buck by dialing in on two additional locations.
Since January we’ve been thinking about opening day. Early season deer hunting is practically all we think about in the spring and summer. If you’re anything like us, that leads to experimenting with new gear and mulling over different hunting tactics. The latter represents an interesting opportunity to harvest deer – sometimes, success comes in the form of a unique change of pace.
Whitetail Properties Land Specialist Pete Alfano said he hunts field edges that he can access undetected. “In picking those spots, I need to have a good exit strategy at dark,” he said. “Scouting plays a big role. In most states, the bucks will still be in bachelor groups. If they haven’t been broken up and you see them do the same thing two out of three evenings, you know where you need to be.”
If you see deer using a field on a regular basis, that is where you need to be on opening day. Likely, there’s a food source there, and the cover of the surrounding woods is perfect for a hunting blind. Ensure you can get out of your blind or stand without being detected. This usually means a trail through the woods, away from the fields. However, if you have yet to see big bucks in the fields before sunset, go a little deeper into cover, which brings us to the next point.
How many times have you been hunting directly over a food source, waiting until the mature deer join the does and young bucks already out in the field? As light fades, you hear heavy footfalls, but it’s too dark to see. It’s probably the buck you’ve been waiting to show up in the field. He is stalled, waiting for night.
Staging areas are great late afternoon hunting locations. They are often close to the food source, but offer the protection of cover. And the more hunting pressure, the more bucks will use these areas. Set up around trails, small food plots or heavy, overgrown cover where a buck can feel safe until dark. Usually a rub line is a dead giveaway of these secondary travel routes.
In both spots, you are hunting near food or water. It’s important to fine-tune your strategy – not getting too close, yet being near enough for a shot. Figure that out, and you have a surefire hunting blind location to shoot a buck during the first week of the season.