Overrated or Underrated? Hunting Early Season Mornings

By Justin ZarrOctober 7, 20213 Comments

Hunting mornings during the early part of deer season has gotten a bad rap the past few years. The trend started innocently enough, with a few notable whitetail hunters advising people to quit hunting deer in the morning until well into October. From there, the movement picked up steam until the Internet was filled with blog posts, social media posts and YouTube videos telling everyone to sleep in until almost Halloween.

A week into October we’re well into the “early season” and quickly approaching the much-talked-about “October Lull”. So the question remains, should you be hunting in the mornings? Or should you sit them out until things “get good” later in the month?

To help answer these questions I asked a few friends of mine who know a thing or two about deer hunting. So, is hunting the morning during the early season overrated or underrated? Here’s what they said.

Mike Hunsucker - Heartland Bowhunter

Mike Hunsucker with a nice whitetail buck

Hunting mornings in the early season is overrated. I can understand being excited that season is open and typically its cooler in the mornings, but most of the time you will do more harm than good. As always, there are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, I save my time for the evenings when the deer are very patternable and consistent.

Heartland Bowhunter

Dan Johnson - The Nine Finger Chronicles

Dan Johnson with a nice buck

Underrated. Hunting mornings in the early season is tricky. You want to avoid destination food sources and minimize the risk of spooking deer. It all comes down to risk versus reward. If you have consistent trail camera data of a specific deer and the right weather conditions, hunting bedding or transition areas can be an excellent trap. Early season mornings can be risky if your plan isn’t well thought out, but at the same time, the reward can be huge if you pull it off.

Nine Finger Chronicles

Aaron Warbritton - The Hunting Public

Aaron Warbritton with a nice buck

Underrated, but it all depends on the individual situation. Weather conditions, access and distance from suspected bedding areas all play a key roll. If we can get inside 100 yards in the dark well before daylight without spooking anything, it’s game on. Bucks are more predictable early and they aren’t expecting you to be in their bedding area with them. And be prepared to sit longer than you think you will need to. Bucks will often be bedded up before daylight and get up to move around mid-morning. We’ve killed a few of them that way.

The Hunting Public

Justin Zarr - Bowhunt or Die (that's me!)

Justin Zarr with a nice October buck

Underrated. For all the reasons mentioned above, hunting mornings during the early season can be feast or famine. Being in the right place at the right time can lead to a filled tag before the weather turns cold.

However, I enjoy hunting early season mornings for another reason. And it’s that I simply enjoy being in the woods. Missing out on 6 to 10 morning sits in September and October could amount to almost 25% of my season. I love killing big bucks as much as the next guy, but I love being in the woods even more. And when the season is open and I’ve got a tag in my pocket, there’s no place I’d rather be.  

For the record, the earliest I’ve killed a buck in the morning is October 16th.  Is that still considered “early season”?  You tell me.

Bowhunt or Die

Final Verdict: UNDERRATED

Justin Zarr
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General Manager at Bowhunting.com
Justin has been bowhunting for more than 25 years, harvesting a number of P&Y whitetails in his home state of Illinois during that time.  He co-hosts the popular bowhunting show 'Bowhunt or Die' and is a frequent guest on numerous hunting podcast.  Justin lives in the NW suburbs of Chicago with his wife and 3 children.
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