Pre-Season Deer Hunting: Prep, Safety & Beyond

Treestand Safety While Deer Hunting

It’s mid-August and that means “go time” for pre-season white-tailed deer hunters. There are no doubt countless game cameras scattered throughout the whitetail’s range right now documenting groups of bachelor bucks in all their glory. I can’t wait for the next download myself! The pre-season however is not just about feeder and food plot preparation and eyeing the latest deer hunting gear.

It’s time to get into hunting shape, both mentally and physically. This gets more and more important with each passing year. You know who you are. Join the club. There is no better time than now to start preparing for the physical demands of your next hunting trip. Climbing, lifting, lugging, drawing back a 70-pound bow and the sort can take a toll on a body but physical preparation can go a long way towards keeping you healthy and safe.

Deer Hunting: Be Safe!

Staying in good physical condition should be a way of life. Unfortunately, many of us fail to maintain our desired level of physical condition. For me, like a lot of other hunters, it’s about priorities. We often put other things before ourselves, whether it be our families, our work or both. It’s important we take care of ourselves for those very reasons. Nothing is more important than making it back home safely.

The month of August is officially Tree Stand Safety Awareness month. Each hunting season, unfortunately, a number of hunters do not make it back home. Most hunting accidents are self-inflicted and can be avoided. As you prepare for the upcoming deer hunting season keep safety on the top of your mind. Many hunters have careers that stress safety on the job. Enjoy the pre-season prep as well as the hunting season itself, but take that safety-first attitude with you into the field.

Source: Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA), a newly formed not-for-profit 501(3)c organization with the mission of educating hunters about treestand safety, has announced that August is officially Tree Stand Safety Awareness month. August, the month that most hunters start heading back to the woods to cut trails and hang stands in preparation for upcoming hunting season, is the most opportune time for treestand awareness. TSSA is looking to get hunters to start the season by putting safety first.

Treestand accidents are annually the #1 cause of death and serious injury to deer hunters and virtually 100 percent of these incidents are preventable by implementing three simple measures: First, wear a full-body harness when hunting from a treestand. Second, stay connected from the time your feet leave the ground. Third, make sure your hunting buddies do the same. It really is that simple.

TSSA encourages all hunters to take treestand safety seriously, every time you hunt from or hang a treestand.

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Late Season Deer Hunting

Deer Hunting Tips and Tactics

The white-tailed deer hunting season will be ending shortly, so there’s no better time than right now to employ a few late season deer hunting tips and tactics to bag that last-second buck. In Texas, many hunters take time off between Christmas and New Year’s in anticipation of putting deer on the ground, but whitetail bucks that have made it this far into the deer hunting season are well educated. Still, no need to panic. Careful planning combined with the wise use of time in the field can still result in a successful deer hunt.

The hunting season has been on for a while and the deer are most definitely in the know. Patterns are extremely important to them. Not so much their patterns, but the patterns of hunters. A deer knows that the sound of a four wheeler running or a truck door closing means a hunter is in the area. Deer will stick with moving very early, before sunrise, and then after mid-morning, when most hunters have long left the field. It’s time to change things up. First, be quiet. Continue reading “Late Season Deer Hunting”

Habitat Conditions Bad, Deer Hunting Good?

Whitetail Deer Hunting in Texas for Habitat Management

With the official start of summer almost upon us and whitetail bucks rapidly putting on new antler growth, it is never to early to speculate about the fall white-tailed deer hunting seasons in Texas. Unfortunately for everyone, dry weather has kept a damper on many deer and habitat management practices to date, but poor habitat conditions may help hunters across the state this fall.

Most folks know that dry weather is not good for wildlife. Deer hunters are also aware that low rainfall equates to below average antler sizes for bucks relying on natural forage to get them through the year. That being said, it comes as no surprise that severe drought across the state has dimmed what usually is a bright outlook for white-tailed deer quantity and quality. Continue reading “Habitat Conditions Bad, Deer Hunting Good?”

Hunt Scrapes After a Rain

Selective Culling for Bucks and Deer Management

White-tailed deer management is about controlling the age, genetics, and nutrition of a deer herd. These components are the nuts and bolts of producing and growing big, healthy deer. Hunters understand that whitetail, like other game animals, are a renewable natural resource that can be used for both recreation and food. This is exactly why we enjoy getting out in the woods and doing a little deer hunting each fall. Although proper doe harvest is essential for maintaining a deer population within the carrying capacity of the habitat, let’s face it, hunters really look forward to hunting for big ole mature bucks.

There are several strategies that can be used to bag a buck, but for the most part hunters are limited to hunting food, water, travel areas, or deer sign. Whitetail bucks often leave visual evidence of where they have been in the form of rubs and scrapes. Of the two, scrapes can predict the location that a buck is likely to return. Despite the fact that many mature bucks check scrapes under the cover of darkness, hunting scrapes after a rain could increase your chances of crossing paths with a big whitetail buck. Continue reading “Hunt Scrapes After a Rain”

Time to Rattle for Whitetail

Rattling at the Right Time for Deer Hunting Success

Fall is here and the food plots are in the ground, so except for conducting some controlled burns in the near future, the only thing left to do deer management wise is to harvest and record the deer we need (or would like) to remove. Though most deer hunters hunt whitetail by setting up over a food source, whether it be a feeder or a food plot, there are more active ways to bag a buck. There really are only two ways to go: Either you can go to the deer, or you can bring the deer to you.

Though many hunters have read about rattling bucks in, or have seen it on TV, many have yet to give this method a shot. Well, at least on a regular basis. I suspect many hunters have picked up a set of antlers and have at least attempted to rattle up a buck, but their lack of success caused them to quickly dismiss the effectiveness of antler rattling. Those antlers then went back to collecting dust at camp. So as effective as rattling can be, most of time it just will not work. But when it’s hot, it’s hot!

A whitetail buck responds to rattling

Rattling can work at any time during the hunting season, but it is typically most effective just prior to the rut, during the pre-rut. At this time, antler rattling can be an effective way to bring bucks right up into spitting distance. I’ve seen bucks come running out of the brush with as little as two seconds worth of antler rattling! Of course, many times I’ve rattled antlers together only to attract the attention of  area squirrels, or even worse, nothing at all. During the pre-rut, bucks are establishing dominance for breeding purposes, setting up territories, and working off an excess in testosterone. It is also during this time in which they are most vulnerable to rattling.

When it comes to rattling, you never really know what you are going to attract. I’ve had all sorts of deer respond to rattling. I guess they all want to run over and see who is fighting—and who will win. Some buck even want to participate, some are just curious. I’ve had does, spikes, middle-age bucks, and mature bucks all come to a set of rattling antlers. All age classes of bucks will respond to rattling at the proportion in which they occur in the population.

If a good percentage of the local buck herd is made up of young bucks, then that is probably what you will bring in. If, on the other hand, there are a good number of older bucks in the area, then you have just as a good of a chance of bringing them to you as younger-aged bucks. In fact, you probably have a much better chance of bringing them to you rather than simply sitting and waiting to see them. Because that may never happen.

I had a friend of mine spot a huge whitetail buck last year on public land right as season started. The buck showed up on a couple of his game camera photos before season, but he got a glimpse of the buck the second day of archery season as the animal walked by at 200 yards. He then made it his personal mission to hunt that deer for the remainder of the season, even if it meant he ended the year with no buck at all. To make a long story short, he hunted and hunted, but one cold morning a few weeks later he rattled that deer to within 25 yards and shot it with his bow. He said after his first rattling sequence he could see the buck, which scored over 170 Boone and Crockett inches, running at him from over 400 yards! Sometimes it helps to bring them to you.

So rattling can work, but don’t expect it to work every time.