-By Rich Miller
Heat, sweat, briars and mosquitoes - this is the time of year that I am in the woods preparing stands, cutting shooting lanes and finding trees with acorns on them. I don’t know every tree that I am going to climb or hang a stand in this year, but I can give myself a lot of options for the early season and have stand locations ready that I hunt year after year.
The last part of July and the first of August has always been my time to start preparing for my deer season. I can’t anticipate every place that I am going to hunt because I like to be versatile as the season moves into October. I like to have a lot of different options when September 15th roles around.
The reason I like this time of year to start my preparation is because the foliage is as full as it is going to be in the woods and any cutting that I do will not have time to grow back before I am ready to hunt. Another good thing about getting all of my cutting and clearing done early is that all my scent and sweat is gone from the scene long before season so that I am less likely to spook the deer I am after. Once I have these places ready to go I won’t return to them until I am ready to hunt.
This is also a good time to find acorn trees and muscadine vines that are going to produce well in the early bow season. A good pair of binoculars is the only thing you need to find these. The muscadines will be ready come the middle of September, but most of the acorns will not start dropping until the last of September and into October. I normally prepare to hunt the most loaded trees first, even before they start falling because the squirrels will be cutting the acorns off before they start dropping and deer will find these and use them. A good thing about these natural food sources is that most of the time these places are where I will start finding my first buck sign.
Getting all of this done well before the season has always proved to be very productive for me. Several years ago I was at my hunting club and it was the second week of the season. There were several other bow hunters in camp and they were not seeing any deer while I had already taken a couple of does and a good eight-pointer along with seeing deer every time I was on stand. While he was checking out the eight-pointer, one of the guys made the comment that I was really lucky. That was the first time that he had been to the hunting camp all summer. He hadn’t seen all the hard work that it took to be seeing all these deer. I had more than a dozen different stand locations that I had prepared well before the hunting season so that I wasn’t putting too much pressure on one stand. The guy that made the comment was hunting the same spot morning and evening and he said “I was lucky”.