The archery deer opener is almost here for a number of states around the country. And while hunters have spent countless hours, weeks and months in preparation, many will still fail to punch a tag on opening day. Face it, there’s a thousand things that can – and will – go wrong that’ll derail our chances for success. When it comes to bowhunting, all the variables have to line up just right to make it happen. That’s why more times than not we are left to simply watch the show, without ever drawing our bow. But there are some simple, maybe even overlooked, things we can do to help tip the odds for success in our favor on opening day. Here’s a few opening day strategies for bowhunting deer to consider before game day finally arrives.
Confirm What They’re Eating This Week
Things are changing fast at this time of year when it comes to food sources. Deer can be here one day and gone the next when they find a more preferred food source hitting the ground. I talked with a buddy the other day that has had deer pounding his corn feeder for months but in the last 48 hours they disappeared. A quick scouting run found the deer locked in on freshly fallen white oak acorns on the ground. Whether it’s cornfields being combined, bean fields becoming less attractive as they turn, or the arrival of nuts on the ground, deer will be changing their feeding patterns. Don’t wait until opening day to figure out that your deer are no longer where you thought they were. Take advantage of the most recent information (MRI) provided by your trail camera to help you develop a strategy for opening weekend.
Inspect Your Bow One Last Time
You’ve probably been shooting your bow for months now, so don’t let something simple cost you on opening day. Give your bow one last look-over before heading out the door. Make sure everything is tight. Ensure that you’ve returned your slider pin back to 20 yards instead of 60. Are your quiver and arrows attached? Did you remember to actually swap your field points out for broadheads? Hey, they sound like stupid questions, but it will happen to someone on opening day. Guaranteed!
If you are able, step out on the porch or deck and shoot one arrow before taking off. It’ll loosen up your stiff muscles, release any pops and creaks your bow may have, and give you that extra measure of confidence as you head to the woods.
Give Yourself 30 Minutes More Than Usual on Opening Day
It’s bound to happen. Something will be forgotten. Your Hunter Safety System harness, your release, camera, or even your bow. Something will inevitably be left at the house or in the truck. Leave yourself ample time for opening day errors, as well as the sluggish start towards getting back in the routine. Everything seems to take longer on opening day as you get settled into the tree. An extra 30 minutes will be well worth your time and will ensure you are ready to roll when daylight arrives.
Control The Mosquitoes
It’s opening day. Temperatures will likely be mosquito-friendly. And I don’t care how tough you are, mosquitoes suck. Don’t let them ruin your hunt. Be prepared with the goods to repel them as you sit in the stand or ground blind. If you haven’t invested in a Thermacell, now is the time. It’ll be the best $30 you’ll ever spend. And now the company is making a multi-purpose repeller clamp that’ll allow you to easily attach your Thermacell to your treestand or tree limb to make life easier. No more accidental drops or kicks off the treestand.
Another great product to keep you covered before your Thermacell warms up is the Bug & Tick Repellent from Lethal. It’s a quick-drying, non-greasy formula delivering 12-hour protection from mosquitoes and ticks. It comes in a small pocket-sized spray bottle so you can keep it handy. The stuff really works well.
Hunt Over High Quality H2O
Sure, everyone wants to hunt where they can see tons of real estate or keep an eye on a beautifully lush food plot on opening weekend. It’s what we’ve looked forward to all year long. But don’t overlook water sources in the early season. It’s often hot and very dry when the opener rolls around. Deer will be on those water sources. Find the right source and you’ll punch a tag on opening weekend.
Determine What You’re Willing to Shoot
Countless opportunities for success will be blown on opening weekend as hunters get indecisive with deer standing in front of them. Do I want to shoot a doe? Should I shoot this cull buck? Does that buck really need another year? These are some of the questions that you should already know the answers to. Trying to make up your mind in the heat of the moment will often lead to opportunities lost.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Know what you’re after and make it happen when the opportunity arises.
Watch for the Shooter to Walk Out Last
It’s not uncommon to still see bucks tolerating each other’s presence on opening weekend. So don’t jump the gun when the first buck walks out. The youngest buck in the bunch will often be the first one on the scene. It’s almost like they enter the field in order of age or size, with that biggest buck coming out last. Be patient. He’ll be there…unless you shoot the first one that walks out.
The Bowhunting.com crew wishes you the best this hunting season. Make the most of every chance you get by putting the strategies mentioned above to work and finding success on opening day.