Success this bow season will most likely depend on how much you prepare before the season starts. Whether hunting private property, a lease or public land, there are many matters you can take into your own hands to increase your chances of success.
Deer Food Plots and Food Sources
Identifying what deer will eat throughout the season is a significant factor in placing yourself in a position to see deer consistently. Knowing what and where deer will be eating will lead to deciding where to place your treestands and ground blinds. Once you know where your stands and blinds will be, you will be able to strategize the best way to access your setups and factor when the best times to hunt them might be.
Several months before the season starts, take some time to walk your hunting property and study aerial views of it. Identify what farmers planted in any fields in the area, whether they be on your property or surrounding properties. Consider when the farmers might harvest any of those fields and plan accordingly.
Identify any mast trees such as preferred oaks in your area. These varieties vary from north to south. Locating and persimmon trees can be valuable, too. Learn when these species drop their nuts or fruit and place a treestand or ground blind before the season starts, allowing the deer to become familiar with any new structure in the area.
Treestands and Ground Blinds
Treestands and ground blinds have proven to be the most effective tools to place yourself in a position to effectively harvest deer. These accessories provide the flexibility required to hunt most areas while remaining concealed.
It is imperative to ascertain that any treestands left out all year are structurally sound and haven't been tampered with by any critters or Mother Nature. While using a safety harness, climb into the setups and check every strap, chain, rope, or cable.
When you're checking the condition of your treestand or ground blind, it is a great time to check for any limbs that need cut for the upcoming season. Creating shooting lanes is an important step in bow season preparation. Any pole saw, or limb saw is the perfect tool to accomplish this task.
Supplements and Minerals
Deer supplements and minerals serve a critical role in a buck's antler development and physical well-being. Also, they serve the same nutritional functions to does and fawns.
Where legal, placing supplements and minerals can attract deer to one area, helping to acquire pictures with trail cameras. These pictures can be used to assess your deer herd's overall health, buck-to-doe ratio and to take inventory of the bucks using your property.
Trail cameras can be your most important tool when preparing for bow season. They do your scouting for you 24/7, allowing you to stay out of the woods, minimizing human intrusion and pressure on the deer.
To best prepare for bow season, it is best to set trail cameras around July 4th in the north and throughout the Midwest. In the south, early August is an excellent time to consider placing cameras on your property. These dates are when bucks are well into their antler development, making them easier to identify and recognizable for the years past.
During summertime and early fall, it is best to place trail cameras on frequently used water holes, along field edges or corner of commonly used soybean fields or over a mineral or supplemental feed sites (where legal).
One of the most fun aspects of bowhunting and preparing for bow season is shooting bows. Frequently practicing with your bow helps to get your mind prepared for your shot routine when your shot opportunity presents itself during the season. A quote commonly used by Navy SEALs is, "We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training."
Archery is an art and a discipline. The archer owes it to the animal to be extremely familiar with every aspect of his/her equipment. This means fully understanding which arrows, broadheads, release, sight, etc. are best for the bow he/she uses. Once the right gear is acquired, it is imperative to practice in a wide variety of settings. The most common mistake archers make as they prepare for bow season is the practice in the same location and the same shooting distances.
The proper practice would be to place yourself in uncomfortable situations and high-stress situations. Deer will rarely offer a shot like you practice, standing flat-footed on a perfectly level surface at 20, 30 or 40 yards, aiming at a perfectly broadside target. It is beneficial to practice how you will be shooting in the woods. Wear the same gear and place yourself in the same position, whether it be standing/sitting in a treestand or from a chair in a ground blind. Practice shooting targets at random distances such as 9, 27, 33, 42, etc.-yards. Learn how to aim for those specific distances with your yardage marks or with the sites you use.
Practicing for the effect adrenaline has on you is very beneficial. Shooting with an increased heart rate is the best way to simulate high adrenaline or "buck fever." An excellent method to overcome the stress of any situation is to focus on your breathing. A rapid heart rate will cause you to take short, quick breaths if you don't make a conscious effort to slow down your breathing and remain focused on the task at hand.
Shooting after a series of sprint or push-ups is a great way to overcome the effects of adrenaline. Next time you practice, do as many push-ups as possible and shoot a round of arrows to see how your "high stress" arrow groups compare to your "normal routine" arrow groups.
Take an inventory of your camo, general hunting accessories and bowhunting gear. If you notice you need new bowhunting supplies, either to replace what's old and worn out or to upgrade your gear, consider the following items.
Arrows & Arrow Accessories
Bow Cases & Carriers