19. November 2009 04:05
Ask yourself one question, “am I maximizing my preseason efforts?” Though you may think so, your back may feel so, and your wife may say so; there still may be a few rocks left unturned. My Father, Uncle, Grandfather and I have prepared for each bow season similar to the last and the recipe had yielded success. We had our routines and were following the “If it aint broke don’t fix it” methodology. At the close of the 2008 Illinois archery season however, we decided to add two new tactics to our arsenal and boy am I glad we did.
Tactic 1: Trail Cameras
This is the first year we’ve set trail cameras around our property, and it only took one check of the SD cards to get us hooked. There is no better way to get the pre-season buzz going than to catch a buck in velvet on camera and watch him grow into a shooter. For the first time, we were able to establish a “hit list” from the shooters that were making multiple appearances on our cameras. The list then focused our attention on a few mature bucks that we took interest in. One in particular, which we named Guthook, began to show patterns.
We have several trail cam pics of Guthook on one side of our farm and with his numerous appearances; his early season pattern was exposed.
Without the trail cameras, we would not have identified Guthooks home range and may not have even known this deer existed prior to the season. We also would not have realized how effective our second pre-season tactic is.
Tactic 2: Food Plots
I’ve read about food plots all throughout various hunting magazines and websites, but it seemed out of reach for the “average Joe” bowhunter like myself. I was dead wrong. My Father and Uncle planted two plots this year without any major farming equipment. Though both plots were under an acre, they attracted bucks like Guthook and kept them coming back.
Guthook makes an appearance at the “secret spot” food plot which my Father and Uncle planted in July.
This plot is 30 yards long 15 yards wide and sits only 70 yards off of the farms bean fields. If you find that mature bucks won’t enter the open fields till after legal shooting time, try planting a small pot tucked away in the woods. The secret spot gives mature deer a (false) sense of security making it the perfect ambush spot to harvest a buck before sundown.
The “Secret Spot” setup.
The treestand location where I harvested Guthook, a 140 class buck the first weekend of Archery Season.
This is the other food plot planted which is just off the main bean field. This is where I was able to harvest Guthook on October 4th, 2009. The buck entered the field from the spot the picture was located and traveled along the winter pea’s path. He was munching on the Brassica and Clover blend when he didn’t know what hit him.
If you have become comfortable with your routine, try challenging yourself next season by adding some new tactics to your arsenal. Ask yourself whether you are “maximizing your pre-season efforts”? My family and I did this year and it led me to early season success.