Friday, May 1, 2009

Whitetail Deer Season Prep Starts Now: May

© 2009 Albert A Rasch

Photo Credit: BricksandCo
Across the lakes.

I have decide that this year is going to be the year I get my first Whitetail deer. It seems everybody else does it, so why shouldn't I?

It's not like I haven't tried before. I've been a few times. But for a number of reasons, I have never connected with a whitetail. Usually its because I dozed off, so as you can imagine, the crashing and breaking limbs and then the resultant thud on the ground of my body falling from the stand is enough to send every deer in the area elsewhere.

This being the end of April beginning of May, I'm off to a late start. The first order of business is scouting. Something I should have started to do in January. Getting permission to scout may be the second most difficult part, with being allowed to hunt the most difficult. Here the key is making sure that you ask politely, and always thanking the person for their time, even if you didn't get what you came for. Who knows, they may be able to tell you who might allow you.

While scouting, it's important to narrow it to an area where there appears to be plenty of sign and where the chances of success appear to be good.

I found an area consisting of a patchwork of brush, narrow wood lines, grasslands, and lawns. This is also an area that consists of many private land holders, some larger than others.

Since I live in a large subdivision I figure I'll start with the areas I already have access to and proceed outwards from there. One thing that I am going to ascertain is the legality of bowhunting within the county and city limits and if they are applicable. (Note: I have checked and that will be the subject of another article.)

In the meantime, while I am scouting, what I will be looking for is where the deer are, what are the main food sources, where they are watering, and where can I position myself in order to have a good chance at success.

Suburban deer aren't normally subjected to the same pressures that deer in public management areas are. I suppose that the occasional dog chases them around now and then, but come hunting season they don't see too many fellows traipsing around the woods after them. At least not in this area.

Photo Credit: RWKPhotos
Whitetail in the woods.

Fortunately, I have found an area where I have seen deer. My next step is to carefully, and thoroughly inspect the area. Using an aerial map I will be making notes of the terrain, trails, bedding areas, food sources, and specific trees with the potential for a stand. If you are working in a limited space (or with a limited budget) you can print out an aerial view from Google Earth and then trace it onto paper. Make note of the prominent details and then add those that are most important to the task at hand.

Pin pointing the bedding area, or at least the trail to and from, is very important. The routes to and from beds to feeding area are used constantly by the does. While the bucks tend to move far and wide, especially during the rut, the does will normally, unless disturbed, keep to the same routes. The bucks will frequently use these same routes looking for a willing partner.

I'll be on the lookout for old rubs where the bucks thrashed it out this winter. Anything I find I'll make a note of now, so that I won't have to disturb the area come fall.

The same goes for mast trees like oaks and hickories. I want to pinpoint them now so that come fall I know where they are and I don't have to blunder around and get the deer riled up by my presence.

Photo Credit:Jim-AR
Hickory nuts, a great mast crop!

Once I have gathered all the information, I am going to look for trees that provide a suitable position for a tree stand. I'll be looking for avenues of approach and shooting lanes. I'll need to keep in mind everything I learned this spring and early summer about the terrain so that when I go in during the season, I can minimize the disturbance I will cause.

So far so good. I have a plan to follow, so all that is left is equipment selection, and physical conditioning. Since this will be hunting in the suburbs, bowhunting will be the method of choice. The first area to concentrate on is getting my body back in bow drawing shape. That means drawing the bow regularly, just like a workout session. Not only that, arrows have to fly. So a target butt and lots of practice in hitting what I aim at, will be part of the course. As I equip myself with a good bow, proper arrows, broadheads, clothes, a stand, and all the other bits and pieces of gear, I'll cover them, telling you why I chose to use them, and how I will apply them.

This is the first part in what I hope will be a series. I've been rereading Precision Bowhunting by John and Chris Eberhart, and I will be following their recommendations. Every few weeks I am going to let you know what I am doing, with updates on what I find and what I learn. Wish me luck!

I would like to hear from some of the more experienced deer hunters out there.

  • Who else is preparing now for the coming season?
  • If you are, what exactly are you doing?
  • Do you hunt public, or private lands?

Thanks again for participating!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

To start with you're gonna be hearing from a less experienced bowhunter. I'm gonna be with you in spirt cheering you on every step of the way!

wandering owl said...

Ditto what The S.B. said. I just starting tuning up my bow tonight, but I have a few areas picked out that have plenty of deer in them come deer season. Just need to pick the stand sites.
Good luck and happy hunting!

Deer Killer said...

I am always looking for good deer sine os I can pattern the deers movement but remember they will change there movement patterns from day to day so put up several stands so you have a better chance of getting one in bow range. Also make shore you practice from a tree stand so you know how your bow shoots from the stand. Wen you shoot on a downward angle the arrow has less drop making it hit high and there is nothing more frustrating then shooting over top of a deer because you forgot to adjust for the shot.

native said...

Good luck Albert,
So far you are doing all of the right things!
Deer Killer is right though, I used to practice from the roof of my house, angle and height are about the same as a stand.

Those Florida Whitetails are a wily animal and more often than not, you hear a wheezing high pitched nostril blow, and then, nothing!
Because he has already sensed your presence and gone like the "Ghost "O" The Woods that he is!

Still, lots of fun!

Anonymous said...

Albert, I am always preparing for deer season. As most of you know I am a little obsessed on the subject.
I most hunt state land and occasionally I get some private land but not to often. I keep track of deer in my area all year long whether it is driving by the area's or actually walking them and/or shed hunting them.
I constantly am reading and trying to keep up on new tips and techniques because let's face facts. The whitetail deer can and does adapt to any surrounds at any given time. Some say they can pattern deer, I think that is hogwash because you can't pattern a animal that adapts the way they do.
It sure is fun trying though.

tom said...

I've been scouting some new lands, myself, thick cedars and live oak that I've been permissioned to hunt...and it seems I may have to work up a .45 WinMag load :-)

For purely freezer purposes, I put out some deer corn now and then out on the back acres. Dog has been bringing back too many bits of starved/dehydrated deer lately as the drought continues here in Central Texas so I very well may use up a lot of my tags on thinning the does on my own property as they're brushing up and past the over-population line for available fodder.

Can't eat antlers and it makes me said every time I find another fallen deer from natural causes, not age, out back.

tom said...

I guess I'm saying "I'd rather eat them and share them than have the coyotes and starvation get them and end up finding them by following the vultures once or twice a week."