The 2017 Archery Season Is About To Begin

Opening day of archery season opens a week from today, and there are few things I enjoy more in regard to the outdoors than opening day of archery season.

As hunters, we attempt to understand as much about our hunting ground as humanly possible. In today’s world, hunters have more tools to work with to help us become a better hunter. With a wide array of scouting tools available, it’s easy to become what I call a lazy-boy scouter.

From computerized topo maps to GPS’s, todays hunters can really fine-tune their hunting game plans. But there is still nothing better than good old-fashion, get-out-of-the-house leg work.

Over the years I have uncovered more information and knowledge about a hunting area while following a blood trail. Once an animal is hit, they generally head toward their safe area, which generally means the thickest stuff on the property. This could be bedding or core areas where they spend the majority of the time. It’s were they let their guard down, this is where they feel safe.

While the season is here, it’s never too late to fine-tune your hunting areas and uncover that special honey hole.

The past couple weeks have seen unseasonably warm temperatures. Before we all run out and go beating the brush, the weather man is forecasting more fall-like temperatures this week, which should make the opening day sit more enjoyable. This year we have seen a good mixture of hard and soft mast on the ground. What that means I’m not 100 percent sure, but one would have to believe that will affect the way deer travel and spend their waking hours. An oldtimer once told me that when the mast crop falls early, a hard winter is coming. From what I see the apples are going to be plentiful this year and it’s good bet deer are going to be hitting them as soon as they hit the ground.

Whitetail hunters over the years have used various scouting methods. Pre-season scouting has gone into high-tech with digital cameras that take photos of game in the area were the camera is placed, to old-fashion leg work. Of course, I still prefer the old tried and true ways of scouting with topographical map and leg work, but I do use trail cameras to fine-tune deer travel patterns and to see just what is strolling around my set-ups when I’m not there. To be successful day in and day out, a hunter must do his homework throughout the year.

It looks like this year should be a good one for setting up on food sources. From what I have seen, our main areas are filled with acorns and wild apples. On the down side, the weather has kept local farmers off their fields. After speaking with several farms, it doesn’t look like they will begin cutting corn till at least the first week of October ,but probably more like mid-month.

This will make tree stand selection more interesting the first couple weeks.

It seems no matter where one looks in the woods, where is plenty of deer sign. The key is, knowing where to set up a stand and knowing when to use it.

You can have the straightest arrows, the sharpest broadheads, the finest camo, the most secure and safest tree stand and hit a quarter at 20 yards with your state-of-the-art bow, but if the deer are not where you are, then all is for naught.

Picking out a stand location is a personal thing. I have hunted with guys who will not place a stand less than 15 feet off the ground. I have also seen hunters who do not want to be more than 10 feet off the ground.

Some hunters will only hunt out of particular kinds of trees. Others will only hunt over corn or alpha fields, yet some look for mast crops to hunt over.

All of these set-ups work great during certain times of the season. Being bull-headed to a given idea isn’t going to fill your tags. If anything I say does not sink in, hear me on this: be a flexible hunter. Move to where the deer are moving. If for some reason deer are moving on the other side of the field in a stand of pines, move to where the deer are.

Preseason scouting should be just as much a part of hunting as shooting your bow. There is no article or video on the market that is going to give you first-hand knowledge of your hunting area. The only way to get that knowledge is get off your couch and walk the woods.

I have long said that while I scout I carry a notebook. This book is my bible. Then I transfer the information to my computer. I always check said book before I set foot in the woods. In this little black book I keep records such as wind direction, stand location, scrape lines, mast crop, success in the past and daily reports. I strongly suggest that any and all serious hunters keep a hunting journal.

The older I get the more important this black hunting bible is. In years past, my journal has helped me remember many important facts that I would have forgotten.

No matter where you set up, make sure to check the wind. Nothing will mess up a stand more than if a deer gets wind of you. That can happen while on a stand or when you walk to and from your stand. Always wear scent-free clothing and “barn” style boots. The difference high boots make is unbelievable.

When moving around during archery season, successful hunters should have a bunch of stands up, or areas where you can put a stand without much trouble.

One of the most asked questions I get is, “How long or how many times do I sit in a stand.” I never put my clients or myself on a stand that has been hunted for a full hunted day. If I hunt a stand in the afternoon, I will hunt it the next morning. Never, ever will I hunt it after two such sittings, but we’ll let that stand sit for a few days. I never think about hunting that same stand until after the rest period. This rule never gets broken. Experience has taught me hunters will see more deer during the first sitting than another time.

There are many things that run through our mind when we are climbing a tree, such as wind, equipment, scent control and much more. The most important thing that we must never forget is safety. Use a four-point climbing/safety system.

Another point worth mentioning is October also kicks off bear season in Chautauqua County.

Early archery season is a good time to get out and possibly catch the big boys in the their summer patterns before all heck breaks loose. Plus, it’s just a good time to spend in the woods and take in all that nature has to offer.