Editor’s Note: Jeremy Seymour, originally from Louisville, Georgia, has lived in Greenville, South Carolina for the last 20 years. Just completing his ninth season as a Mossy Oak pro, he's a competitive shooter and hunter for PSE archery, works fulltime for the Greenville Fire Department and is a part-time bow technician and archery instructor at Saluda River Archery in Piedmont, South Carolina. During deer season, Seymour prefers to wear Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, since he hunts in shadows and shade, and in turkey season, he likes Mossy Oak Obsession.
During August and September, I like to hunt hardwoods surrounded by pine plantations, especially if those hardwoods have some oak component. Deer like to eat acorns, as soon as they start falling, but they don’t carry a calendar that tells them what day the acorns should fall every year. So, in those hardwood bottoms, they’ll come through checking the acorn trees in August and September, when we first start hunting, hoping to find the first acorns that fall.
I also like to hunt over soft mast crops, since deer love persimmons and muscadines. In those low-lying places with cooler temperatures, the muscadines and persimmons will start falling earlier than they will in an area that’s hot and getting a lot of sun. Just like the deer check the acorns to see if they are falling, they will be examining those persimmon trees and the muscadine vines to start feeding on those fruits as soon as they start falling.
Primarily, the deer will stay in thick cover most of the day where the air is cooler, and they have plenty of shade. In South Carolina, we don’t have saddles like the terrain out West provides, like a dip in a mountain range. The type of saddles I hunt will be low places in a little hill or perhaps a gradual slope going over the top of a hill. Even a drainage area coming out of a field can represent a saddle, since it’s a low place where deer can travel almost unseen and walk easily between different types of habitat. These low places are the travel corridors the deer use often - especially during hot weather.
When I'm hunting a new property, I’ll start with a topo map to pinpoint the low places on a property. After I find the low places on the topo map, I’ll go to the land and scout them for deer sign. If I can find hardwoods close to pines, or if I can locate mixed pines and hardwoods to hunt, I like to put my tree stand in the pines. The pines give me more natural cover, so the deer aren’t as likely to see me. Many times, I can find an isolated persimmon tree or two or three isolated oak trees in a planted pine plantation. In the southern half of South Carolina, I often can find patches of muscadines, even in pine plantations. If you identify an area like that, and you can locate a pine tree big enough to hold a tree stand, you'll have plenty of natural cover. Plus, you'll be watching a food source where you know the deer want to come and eat. So, this is an ideal place to put a tree stand.
When I find patches of muscadines, especially before deer season, I’ll use 0-17-17 or 0-13-13 fertilizer to fertilize those muscadine patches. I've found that a perfect place for me to take hot-weather bucks still in the velvet is a muscadine patch or a persimmon tree close to a creek where the air is a little cooler. I believe that the deer want to be cool, just like we do. I don’t really think they want to be hot and panting, just like we don’t want to be hot and panting.
For more information on early-season deer hunting in South Carolina, go to www.dnr.sc.gov.