Many of you have undoubtedly been in the whitetail woods with the September opening of archery season in many states. Some of you—such as NAH Web Editor Josh Dahlke—have already found success. Others will be slipping into the woods any day now, as many states will be opening seasons through Oct. 1. It’s hard to hold back that opening-day enthusiasm, but don't let it get the best of you.
Early-season bachelor groups are visible, bold and look like easy targets, but hold on. One slip-up on your behalf and the mature buck that's been routinely showing his face might disappear forever. To get the most out of your first day in a slam-dunk stand, consider curbing your enthusiasm and follow these tips:
1. Put your stand or blind out during midday, and at least a week in advance of the season. You want to avoid being seen in a deer-rich environment when deer are out wandering around, and you want your intrusion to be forgotten before you hunt. Plus, you want deer to become comfortable with a blind well before you sit in it.
2. Only hunt when conditions are right. You’ve waited a long time and put in a lot of scouting; don’t sit your stand if the wind is wrong. Wait for the perfect night and you could get lucky on the first sit. It’s especially true in the early season. Your first time in a stand is usually your best.
3. Don’t shoot the first buck you see. If you’ve had your eye on a big buck, it might be the last in line, so let the young bucks pass you by and hope your goal is bringing up the rear.
4. Use scents. You can use scents well before the rut to stop a buck in the perfect shooting lane. Mist some spray at nose level and it could be just enough to bring a buck to a screeching, curiosity-driven halt.
5. Make mock scrapes. Like scents, scrapes begin attracting attention, and a scrape along a field edge or a trail in between can be the ideal way to stop a buck to get a clean shot.
Early season is often overlooked, but if you follow some of these tips you might never overlook it again.