Opening Day Strategies: Fill Your Tag Early

Posted by: Dustin DeCroo on Sep 23, 2012
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Nothing in the hunting industry creates a frenzy among hunters quite like the opening day of deer season.  Whether your season opens in August or October the anticipation is the same. An opening day buck is the dream of bowhunters across the nation. These five factors can help your opening day dream come true.

1. Gain Access Early

Access to hunting property is seemingly harder to come by every year. Talk to any bowhunter and you’ll most likely hear about the “good old days” when nearly any landowner would allow access to prime hunting land. Unfortunately, those days are gone. Today, we all have to work harder to find good areas to fill tags with. Having hunting ground is an absolute must (obviously) but the more access you have, the better your odds at harvesting an opening day bruiser.


With good hunting property becoming harder to find, waiting until the last minute to "confirm" your hunting area is available may be too late.

Securing as much hunting property as possible prior to the opener is one of the best “insurance policies” you have for filling an early season deer tag.  Some lucky hunters harvest early season deer every year on a 10 acre plot. However, the majority of hunters aren’t that lucky, and let’s face it, some years a trophy buck just might not be in the area.  When you have options, your chances of success increase exponentially.  Hopefully by this time of the year you’ve traded work, money or your pinky finger for a place to hunt.  If not... you have some serious work to do.

2. Stay On-the-Ball with your property

The early season offers bowhunters opportunities that can be lost within a week or two of the opener.  For the majority of the United States deer are in their summer patterns during this time; which consists of two things, bedding and feeding.  Sure, deer do this all year but when you are targeting a specific buck and you don’t have to deal with rut phases, your job is a whole lot simpler. Patterning anything buck during the rut is almost impossible so take advantage of the early season when deer are traveling from bed to feed in an almost predictable manner.


During the early-season food sources and travel routes will change dramatically. The bowhunter who recognizes and prepares for this will be more likely to score.

Keep in mind though that this early season advantage may last only a very short time. There are a few reasons for this. First, the majority of deer killed in the early season are on or near food sources such as soybeans.  Beans are an excellent food source for whitetails and provide outstanding scouting opportunities as you can actually see deer feeding in the evenings.  Unfortunately, the soybeans mature and are harvested right around the opening day of deer season in many states.  If possible, it’s important to know when the farmers or landowners are harvesting crops, there is little that is more disheartening than arriving at your property on opening day to find the beans harvested or the alfalfa cut.  Staying on-the-ball, or up-to-date on food offerings is key to success.

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Dustin DeCroo

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2 Comments on "Opening Day Strategies: Fill Your Tag Early"

Re: Opening Day Strategies: Fill Your Tag Early #
the segment on early deerhunting was great to read thanks yall are awesome.
Posted by Larry scott on 10/7/2012 1:22:49 PM
Re: Opening Day Strategies: Fill Your Tag Early #
I harvested a buck first morning in a spot that i did not scout all year. Luck is nice to have.
Posted by Jay Barris on 10/14/2012 4:22:53 PM

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