Opening Day Deer Hunting Game Plan, Part 1
Bob McNally 09.02.16
Opening day of deer season (bow and gun) is fast approaching in almost every whitetail state. So it’s time to get serious about choosing hunting locations and stands.
It’s surprising how many large bucks are downed every opening week in places where someone had regularly spotted the deer and reported it to a hunter (automated game cameras help, too). That kind of information isn’t always available, so when it drops in your lap, be sure to take advantage of it. Check out the place where such a buck has been spotted, because the best chance to collect him is opening week before a buck realizes hunters are on the prowl.
If you have only one property to hunt, have several different stands in various places, affording good chances to see and tag deer according to wind direction and “temperament” of animals (spooky, calm, in rut, etc.). Only tap the very best locations when conditions are absolutely perfect.
Sometimes it makes sense to hunt the least good spots first, particularly “peripheral” areas if hunting conditions are less than ideal. It can be wise to save the best interior or “core” places for when the rut kicks into gear, especially on large tracts of private land.
However, if you hunt public ground, try the best spots first, but be certain your approaches to stands are wise, wind completely favorable. It’s smart not hunt the hottest of hot spots if the wind is wrong, rather than alerting bucks you’re in their neighborhood.
Keep in mind that opening week is a great “first strike” opportunity to tag bucks that are lulled into believing the woods is their safe and sole domain. An open field, for example, may never have a daytime mature buck in it after the first week of the season. But one morning of opening week there could be a “big rack” standing on a field edge feeding, oblivious to the danger soon around him.