Avid hunters know that the season starts months before opener. Some even say hunting season never really stops. Early in the spring, deer hunting preparation begins with shed hunting and taking stock of what bucks made it through the previous hunting season and winter. By early summer, deer begin their summer feeding pattern and become quite predictable in their habits. Day after day they will leave bedding areas and follow travel corridors toward a food source. Not only are deer more predictable in their habits, they also spend more time on their feet during daylight hours. This provides a unique opportunity for early season scouting and now is the time to take care of everything that needs to be done before season. You have enough lead time before season to not worry too much about bumping deer off your property or area you hunt.
Food Plots & Throw and Grow
If you are considering a food plot or even a throw and grow planting, don’t wait any longer. Now is the time to plant everything from clover to chicory. Check the ideal time to plant your chosen food source for optimal growing but as soon as the time is right, get planting. The idea is to give the crop enough time to germinate and let the deer find it and become accustomed to frequenting it. Also consider what the purpose of the food source is. Do you want to provide late-season nutrition for your deer? Is it going to be a early season hotspot that you want to hunt this fall? Answering these questions will allow you to customize what you are planting to fit either when you want to hunt it or when it will be most beneficial to your deer herd.
TIP: Later in the summer (late June-August) Buckwheat is often an overlooked option but it shouldn’t be. Buckwheat has some of the highest protein content around and deer absolutely love it. Plus, it is extremely adaptable and will grow in almost any condition. If you are trying your hand at creating a deer food source for the first time, Buckwheat is an excellent starting point. Buckwheat also works well in remote food plots or areas you either can’t till or don’t want to. If you can’t or don’t want cut trees and till the soil, try finding a small grass meadow with non-desirable plants. Spray it with weed killer and once it’s dried, mow it down. Simply go in and broadcast Buckwheat overtop of the mowed grass. The seed is small enough to fall through the thatch layer and will begin germinating. The best time to do this is right before a solid rain. Don’t expect a gorgeous “food plot” result but for areas you can’t get back to till, this works extremely well.
Game Camera Management
Now is the time to get scouting cameras in the woods. By late May, deer have developed their summer feeding patterns that they will follow closely all summer. Setting cameras on the outside edge of a major bedding area or on a food source are great locations. Creating mineral sites or seeking out natural mineral sites, such as a old river runoff, also work well this time of year. Creating a mineral site will allow you to capture a ton of great pictures and provide excellent nutrition for antler growth and fawn development during the summer.
TIP: Suppress the urge to over check your cameras! This is the biggest mistake hunters make when using game cameras. Buy large SD cards (some cameras accept over 100GB cards), stock your camera with fresh batteries, and plan on leaving them out for long periods of time. Ideally, check them no more than once a month. This will be the toughest part about summer scouting and prep. It’s like being a kid on Christmas morning. Trust us, the less you go in and introduce your scent into an area, the better off you are. Anything you do in an area will impact deer movement and the whole point of patterning them in the summer is come opening morning, you will know exactly where they will be. Try using portable hand cutters to trim limbs around your camera for the perfect shot and angle. They are much lower impact than a chainsaw and will leave the area nearly undisturbed with very little human or foreign odors. Keep in mind the direction of the sun. Never face your camera east or west. You will get terrible sun washout. Over the summer months, try to face your camera south to get the least amount of sun glare.
Treestands and Groundblinds
How many times have you had a deer approach your stand, come within range, walks perfectly broadside, only to have a limb in the way preventing you from executing an ethical shot? You live and you learn. We’ve learned long ago that clearing shooting lanes in the spring and summer is an absolute must. A tool like the Woodsman can serve a variety of functions and cut everything from limbs to larger trees. The goal is to cut enough to have clear shooting lanes out to the distance you feel comfortable shooting while still leaving you with ample cover in the stand.
TIP: If you are setting up a stand location for later in the season when the leaves are off the trees you have to ask yourself, “What does this area look like with the leaves off?” This goes for your stand setup as well as the area itself. Building an image in your mind of how much cover you will have and what the area surrounding the stand will look like with the leaves off will make you more successful in concealing yourself as well as cutting potential shooting lanes. You will be amazed at how open a stand becomes in November when all the leaves are gone. An area that looks great in the early season could become a barren wasteland come fall.
You can search the deepest, darkest primordial forest and never find a tool as versatile and capable as the 4-in-1 Woodsman™. Carry this one Zippo® product into camp and you have a bow saw that cuts oak up to 4” in diameter, a mallet, a stake puller, and a hatchet with a 5” blade, all in one tool. Call it a handy camp tool or a survival tool, no tool gives you more capability for the weight or the money.