How to prepare: Opening Day | THLETE Whitetail Deer Hunting

How to prepare: Opening Day | THLETE Whitetail Deer Hunting

Jul 13th 2019

In September, nonstressed deer can be very killable. I have learned that a small secluded clover plot or hidden bean field can become a sanctuary for large bucks all summer long. Until the acorns start to drop, summer feeding patterns can be very predictable and a whitetails core area is relatively small. All bucks are different but for the most part, they are relative homebodies that live comfortably in small pockets of land that are capable of providing the key 3 elements of food, water and security cover.

Undisturbed, these small areas are crucial for early season success. Scouting cameras are an absolutely essential tool for monitoring a bucks summer pattern.

When checking cameras, it is very important to follow the same scent elimination techniques that you practice during hunting season. A mature buck will pick up on any scent/sign that you leave behind and will not tolerate too much activity. A few rules that I practice are as follows:

Check cameras before a rainfall

Always carry spare batteries – Too many times I have found a camera dead and have had to re-enter the area to add batteries

Wear rubber knee boots – hip boots if possible. I prefer hip boots because summer weeds are much higher

Latex gloves – keeping your camera completely scent free helps eliminate a buck’s curiosity

Don’t enter the area too often – Your curiosity can kill a summer bucks habits. Try to limit camera visits to 2 weeks minimum

Scout from a distance. There is no rule of thumb for this but good glass allows you to watch a field efficiently from hundreds of yards away. Deer are more relaxed during the summer months but are not intolerant to human scent and activity. Common sense practices like keeping the wind in your face and not silhouetting yourself are a good idea.

Where to look:
During the summer months, deer are looking for protein rich food sources. Clovers and alfalfa are key early on before deer switch their attention to carb and sugar rich crops like corn and acorns which build fat for the upcoming winter months. Beans can also be a fantastic mid season scouting location before the yellow in early fall.

When to go? I prefer a cold front or before a weather front. Summer days in July and August can be downright sticky and hot. If I am sitting in a row or corn sweating, I would have to assume that the deer are uncomfortable too. A cool, clear, high-pressure evening can be a fantastic time to be watching a clover or bean field.

There are aspects of live summer scouting that far exceed the capability of a trail cam. As an example, watching a clover field from afar can reveal the exact location that a mature buck or group of bachelor bucks enter and exit a field. Some of these summer patterns are so predictable that they can lead to putting a buck in the freezer long before the chill of cold November morning.

So all of this sounds pretty simple, right? There is one factor that comes into play as bucks begin to lose their velvet and we turn the page to September. Some, but not all, of those bucks that were hitting the same field each night like clockwork will begin to disperse to fall breeding ranges. This shift usually occurs just as we are getting excited about hitting our stands and tagging that buck that we have kept tabs on all summer. Some of these deer will move less than 500 yards, some a few miles and some will stay right where you have been watching them all summer. Do not set your expectation too high when patterning summer bucks.