Ask a bowhunter what his favorite time of year is and more times than not, you’ll hear “the rut”. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a late October through mid-November hunt? When thinking about early season bowhunting though, there are several great advantages to this time of year. There are a few key areas of the early season that I’d like to discuss along with some strategies for success.
Throughout the Midwest, early season whitetail hunting typically brings high temps that carry along other unpleasant commodities. It’s hot out, which means you’re sweating and producing scent that doesn’t help your cause. The bugs are out in full force and most of the time, you’re swatting mosquitoes more than looking for deer. All of it can test your mental fortitude… BUT more than likely you may have the woods to yourself. Not everyone can mentally adjust to put up with this early season climate, which means less pressure.
Whitetails will quite possibly be on their summer feeding patterns still, which can help you pattern them a little easier. Deer will be heading for food earlier in the day compared to Fall and I lean toward a food plot scenario here rather than a crop field. If you can figure out a way to sneak in and out, those patterns you’ve learned can lead to great success. Make a solid plan for your exit, as the deer will probably stick around after sunset longer than they will in the Fall.
Obviously with the heat and summer patterns to food, water plays a big role this time of year. Find a water hole with good entrance and exit routes that lies between bedding and food, and you have a great setup.
Mature bucks will often be the first to start losing their velvet. When that happens, and you start to notice rubs, you can almost bet that it was a mature buck making that rub. Look for his rub lines and set up accordingly.
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