In my home state of Minnesota mosquito’s, gnats, heat and standing crops seem to put a damper on many hunters “early season”. Although I agree that there are great challenges in figuring out this time period, I do think that it is the best time to be in the woods aside from the rut.
I know that most of my enthusiasm is due to the fact that I have had much success hunting this part of the season in the past and not to mention, have been counting down the days all summer long to the re-opening of Minnesota’s archery season. I have also gained a decent understanding by now on the patterns of a few nice bucks in the area; gained throughout my scouting efforts over the summer months. It is now that big bucks seem to be fairly predictable and in the evenings especially. Thus forcing me to be a believer that the positive factors surrounding the early season outweigh the negative ones. I like using the saying: “every minute spent in the woods, brings you a minute closer to harvesting that buck of a lifetime.”
I typically start my scouting efforts looking over agricultural fields with my binoculars and spotting scope from long distances. This makes pattering big bucks a breeze as during these late summer months deer generally enter and exit the food sources at the same places night after night. I gravitate towards this style of scouting, opting to stay out of the core area so the deer don’t feel pressured. When and if the deer get bumped they seem to change their ways and are forced out of their old habits.
Undisturbed ground is a huge benefit to any hunter as the fall seasons begin as the, “element of surprise” may be the single most important factor in early season hunting. Keeping this in mind I try to maintain a low profile in my scouting efforts. There are a few ways I like to scout over the summer months and into the beginning of the archery season with little impact on the deer. As mentioned glassing into agricultural fields from nearby roadways with binoculars or spotting scopes is a practical method that I often times use, I gravitate towards observation stands that I have previously set up around the outside perimeter of my hunting areas. I prefer to work from the outside in, spotting the buck first then moving in for the opportunity of a harvest. In doing this I am able to observe deer movement, determining where they are entering and exiting food sources and bedding areas. I am then able to pick out my ambush site that will give me the best chance at tagging out!
If conditions are right to hunt a particular stand, go for it! If not use some of these tactics mentioned above and do some scouting instead. The cautious approach will pay off later as its better to learn and pattern throughout the course of the year than to simply stomp into an area and hang a set to hunt.
Don’t simply wait for the rut this coming fall. Take the steps mentioned above and get after your buck early this fall!
* Below is an aerial view of the early season agricultural field I have been hunting the past couple years. It shows where I have placed my observation stands along with the typical deer movement I have observed in the area.