It’s hot! With heat indexes soaring near triple digits in much of the country, that last thing on your mind might be the fall deer hunting seasons. Preparing for them shouldn’t be, however. Regardless of the heat and humidity, if you expect to have success this fall, then you’d better get busy checking off the boxes on this summertime to-do list.
Trail cameras are a big part of your summertime to-do list:
As each day finds the buck’s antlers adding more inches, setting up and placing trail cameras is important if you want to know what kinds of bucks you have running around. They will also let you know where they are – and are not – frequenting.
If you want to make your cameras a larger player in your summertime to-do list, be sure to place them strategically. Water sources are always good places to set up a camera or two. Beyond that, of course, look for well-used trails and set one up wherever you find one, especially if you find an area where more than one trail converge. This will increase the number of pics you get, as this is an indicator that deer are coming from all areas your hunting property to this spot, or that it is a focal point in different travel routes for deer for some reason.
If you are lucky enough to find a licking branch, this is an absolute must for a camera. And if you’re ahead on your summertime to-do list and already have all of your cameras set, pull one from somewhere else to place here.
If there has to be one thing to avoid on your summertime to-do list of setting out trail cameras, it would be to avoid putting them out in windy or weedy places. If you do, every time the wind blows the weeds in front of your camera, or a leaf in front of it, it will snap a photo of nothing, and those get boring really fast.
One more no-no about trail cameras when thinking about your summertime to-do list is to try to avoid putting them in areas that will cause you to be too invasive in order to check them. You don’t want to spook deer or allow them to pattern you before the season starts.
Scouting is a big part of any summertime to-do list:
Scouting doesn’t start as the season draws near; it should be a continuous process through the year. Scouting in the summer is as good as any. It allows you to identify travel routes and feeding areas that the deer are using when there is no hunting pressure, which can be invaluable for early season sits.
It also enables you to see how many, and what types of bucks, are hanging around. Often, they are in bachelor groups this time of year, making getting an eye on them easier.
There is no need to go deep all the time on your summer scouting trips. A lot of the time, you can spot bachelor groups of bucks and does feeding in crop fields from the road. Or consider parking and walking a short distance to a fencerow, hill or other easy to get to spot where you can glass the area without tromping through the woods.
You’ll be surprised what a little scouting can do to improve your summertime to-do list, that even trail cameras can’t do for you. Putting boots on the ground allows you to see well-worn trails, old rubs, and scrapes, identify water sources you may not have known were there and observe deer in areas where your cameras aren’t. It also helps you pinpoint bedding areas, fence crossings and the like.
Treestand preparation and placement should be a part of your summertime to-do list:
A lot of people put it off until closer to the opener, but when going through your summertime to-do list, putting your treestands up and preparing them now should be on your list.
There are valid points to wanting to wait until closer to season to hang stands. Deer patterns can change between summer and fall, requiring you to move a stand or two after putting them up, but overall, where you place your stands now will still be the right decision come fall. For those always occurring instances where you notice deer using an area during the season where you don’t have one hung, keep an extra or two in the garage for just this reason, but you don’t want to wait until season approaches to hang them all.
If you have properly done your scouting and studied your trail cameras, you should already know where you need to hang them.
Sure, it may require torturous hikes through standing crop fields to hang them now versus later, but the extra work now will not only make you more prepared come fall, but it will also allow you to leave the area less disturbed as the season approaches.
Hanging stands, and all of the trimming, etc. that goes along with it takes a ton of time; time that really isn’t available as hunting season approaches when there are other things to do and get ready. Doing it now may be hot and sweaty work, but will be so worth it come fall.
Besides just hanging a stand and trimming shooting lanes, think a bit deeper. Add clearing brush, weed-eating or weed-killing entry and exit trails to your summertime to-do list also. Obviously, this isn’t necessary for stands on field edges and the like, but for those hung in the timber, think about getting rid of as much of the debris as you can along the trail in order to make those calm morning entries as quiet as possible.
Food plots should be on your summertime to-do list:
That’s right, depending on what you intend to plant, summertime is the time to plant food plots if you intend to have any.
A wide variety of crops can be planted this time of year, so along with all of the other things, there are to do, planting food plots are another item on a summertime to-do list.
Plants such as beets, oats, tubers, alfalfa, and greens like brassicas are all best when planted in the summer heat. They are heat and drought-resistant and come up in time to coincide with when you plan to be hunting over them.
Safety, the most important thing on your summertime to-do list:
With all of the important things to get done on the summertime to-do list, none are more important than safety. Remember that. Whether scouting, tending plots or hanging stands, practice safety first. Never ascend a tree without the proper safety gear, such as a Muddy lineman’s belt, and never check or sit in stands without a Muddy safety harness. Once stands are in place, secure a Safe-Line to the tree so that on your first hunt of the year, you will be tied in the moment your feet leave the ground.
There really is no off-season when it comes to serious deer hunting. In fact, if you do it right, there is a lot more work to be done now than once it’s time to be out hunting, so don’t let summer slip by without taking some time to create and knock out a summertime to-do list for a successful fall.