With the leaves changing colors, temps dropping, and daylight getting shorter it takes everything I have to control my excitement as I know deer season is quickly approaching.
Many times I feel like a little kid experiencing the same anticipation as I once did for Christmas morning. As deer season arrives, I am as excited as ever. One thing I’ve learned over the years, is deer season is far too short! There never seems to be enough time in the day to hunt, scout, and fit in work and family time during the fall months. Although I haven’t found a secret recipe to adding hours to the day,I have learned that being prepared can make fall much smoother, and alleviate some wasted time that could be better spent sitting on stand.
First, equipment preparation is key. There are really two reasons why this is so important in my opinion. The first is a simple thing called confidence. Be confident in your gear, your setup, and your ability when the time comes to close the deal. If you there are any doubts at all this will become exponentially worse with a big buck standing in front of you. Anyone of us can fall apart and experience buck fever, but believing you can effectively carry out the hunt and mentally seeing that happen prior is extremely important. It’s the exact same thing they teach with sports. My college coaches always stressed mentally going through every aspect and detail to help prepare. Know your gear, see yourself doing it and imagine every step along the way and you’ll be much more confident and in turn more successful in the hunting world as well.
The next reason why equipment preparation is key is so you can truly understand how your equipment works. This means already knowing which rifle/ammo combination you’ll be using and what the ballistic are so you can be ready at various distances. The best way to do this is by putting in a significant amount of range time before the season begins. This means shooting your gun to become familiar with your scope, your drop and windage at varying distances, and of course your own shooting limitations.
I personally love the Winchester Deer Season XP in my Winchester XPR in a .300 Win. Mag. It’s a 150-grain bullet that’s been specifically designed for ultimate performance on deer. The first thing you’ll noticed is the larger tip. This gives you a bigger impact.
Next, I like to have my guns sighted in at 100-yards as most of my shots are typically 150-yards and in. This gives me a 2.4 inch drop at 200 yards and only a 5.2 inch drop at 250. My parents have a 300-yard shooting range at their home, so it’s pretty easy for me to shoot a wide variety of distances and ensure my shooting ability is solid for my upcoming shots. I also rely heavily on the Winchester Ballistics app to check specific distances like 225 for example. This app allows you to punch in your exact information, along with wind to see what the drop and wind drift will be to your setup. I have this app downloaded on my phone for quick reference in the field as wellness as on the range.
So now that your equipment is prepped and ready, spend just as much time scouting and learning the location you’ll be hunting. Be it private land, public ground, or a brand new place you…should be spending as much time as possible before the season scouting.
I like to keep my Cuddeback cameras up year round as I can watch how deer patterns change and really get an idea about what’s going on when I am not around. One thing to remember with cameras is to not check them too often. Many times I see hunters getting excited and checking their cameras too much. I’ve found it best to wait a couple weeks and always go in just as you would if hunting. Spray down with Scent Killer Gold, and get in and out as quickly and quietly as possible. Also always take either extra cards or a card reader with you when you hunt so you can check the camera cards while you are there.
Lastly, when prepping for the season try to find a location to glass from afar. By doing this you’re not putting added pressure on the land, but still able to watch the evening or morning deer activity to make the best plan possible.
These are just a few things you can do to help maximize your time in the field and ensure you and your gear and ready for the upcoming season!