Tips for Opening Day of Whitetail Hunting Season
It doesn’t matter what else is going on in the world, the excitement of opening day of whitetail deer season is upon us. Whether you are looking for that first buck as a new hunter, the meat doe to fill the freezer, the first buck that comes along, or you are big or empty chasing that dream buck of a lifetime, opening day is statistically the best day to harvest a deer. We have compiled our list of items, techniques and tactics to plan for opening day success.
A month before opening day, I lay out my entire pack and all of the gear that I plan to carry with me. I look at what I want to bring in my pack as well as in my vehicle. Laying out my gear in preparation for opening morning allows me to check each piece to make sure it is working order, batteries are replaced, straps are checked and gear is packed up in preparation for opening day.
I place a pack frame, ropes, gambrels, a block and tackle, knives, and game bags in my truck. I make sure I have everything I need to bring a white-tailed deer out of the field and get him cooled as quickly as possible. In addition, I have the gear needed to transport the deer to the game check station and ultimately to hang in the tree and get cooled down.
My basic pack carries ammo, my license, two knives, binoculars, flashlight, headlamp, toilet paper, scent, gloves, field dressing gloves, calls, rattling antlers, hand warmers and cameras. On the mornings of my hunts, I pack my Yeti Flip with drinks and my lunch. I can easily carry it right into to my blind or stand for the day.
Practice for Success
I know people who are incredibly accurate in their shooting. I also know some folks who really could use a little more practice. My confidence in my own shooting is due to the fact that every year I spend time putting a lot of rounds through my rifles. This way I know I am set so when I have that monarch buck in my sites, I have the confidence I need to make an exceptional shot whether that shot is from 50 yards out to 400 yards.
Plan for Opening Morning
Doing the scouting and the legwork to be in the right place at the right time is paramount to opening day success on a whitetail deer hunt. Creating a plan and sticking to that plan gives you the best opportunity for success. An old hunting partner used to say to me, “There’s more places where they isn’t than places where they is.” We used to laugh and laugh at that statement but the reality is that statement is always true. Doing your homework allows you to place yourself in the right spot at the right time.
Planning takes knowledge of what you see on trail cams, what you see in your scouting and knowledge about how deer will react when pressured from other hunters. Working with OnXmaps you can see property lines, topographic information and aerial photos which allow you to make a determination of where deer will travel when pressured.
This time is also used to make sure that you have all of our paperwork in order. You need your hunting license, hunter education card and tags all together so they are ready to go with you on opening day. Read and review this year’s hunting regulation books to make sure you are aware of any changes to the hunting laws.
Set a routine for success
In all of my years of hunting, I have created a routine for opening morning. In fact, I follow this routine each and every day I plan on hunting. The first step is getting up extra early to give myself time to shower with scent free soap. Then I get dressed in street clothes, eat a quick breakfast and head out to the area that I am going to hunt. Once I get there, I dress in my gear and I work my way slowly into my blind or stand. My goal is to get to my stand as scent free and quietly as I possibly can with at least a half hour of darkness before legal shooting light. All of my opening day stands are set up for an all day sit. I plan on staying in my stand until dark or I have a deer down. I’ve been successful in the first few minutes after sunrise and I have been successful in the middle of the afternoon when other hunters are leaving the stand to head into town for lunch. Keep on stand all day.
Focus on Success
The right attitude and the knowledge that you have done everything in your power to prepare for opening morning of your whitetail hunting season leads to success. I have hunted with many people in my lifetime and I’ve learned this: those that have confidence in themselves and their preparation always come out of ahead of those who are negative and doubt everything. If you doubt your set up, doubt you are in the right location, doubt your rifle and your ammunition you will also doubt you will see deer and doubt that you will hit what you are going to shoot. I have seen this in action and it has lead to either a wounded deer that took a really long track to recover or a clean miss. Deer can move at all times of the day on opening day. Spend the time to prepare and be confident each and every day in the stand, each hour and even each minute, keep your focus and be prepared to have success.
If you get a deer this season – whether it is a doe for the freezer, the first buck you see, your first buck or a family member’s first deer or that monarch that you have been dreaming of mounting on your wall – post it up on twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #huntinglife and we will share it up in our social communities. If you have any tips or additions to our opening day tips please add them in the comments below.