“So many things to do to get ready for the season… are you focusing on the RIGHT ones?
When it comes to Summertime prep it may seem hard to do, but to be fully prepared for this hunting season, you need to be Fall focused during the Summer, and not get too wrapped up in what deer are doing right now. A great deer herd and hunt takes place in the Fall, and not the Summer. Being Fall focused by scouting appropriately, eliminating weeds, learning to use the weather and making plans to reduce your future hunting scent signature, will pay huge dividends when Fall finally arrives.
Fall Scouting During the Summer
One of the best scouting tactics that you can follow during the Summer months, is to scout for your Fall hunt well before the season even begins.
Proper Summer scouting begins when you ignore where deer are located during the months of June, July and August (as well as January thru April) and you spend the majority of your scouting efforts directly where it matters most – your future stand locations! By using my mock scrape recipe for vertical vine or branch mock scrapes, you can make sure that the target buck you are after visits your stand locations. In fact, even if bucks only visit your mock scrapes randomly during the Summer, you can establish a pattern of use that can make sure a future target buck is familiar with the location by Fall. I recommend that you place all your mock scrapes within bow shot of your stand locations, with only 1 mock scrape per stand – no more, no less. When I choose a stand location I choose the tree, the trail cam location and mock scrape location all at the same time, and then I do my best to ignore where the bucks are at during the Summer, knowing that where the buck passes by during the hunting season is all that matters.
- Use a branch or vine 5 to 8 feet long hanging over a flat spot, directly over the trail you expect deer to take during the Fall.
- The branch or vine should be 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter and the bottom of the branch should be level with your waist or belly
- Set your trail camera between 10 and 15 feet of the mock scrape
- Set your stand within 20 to 25 yards of the mock scrape
- Use zero scent, so that the vine or branch can collect the pre-orbital gland scent of many deer, including bucks does and fawns.
- Vines and whatever variety of tree that bucks typically rub in your area are also perfect to use.
Watch how to make the mock vine scrape here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UkkdWlGcQ0&t=225s
Weeds in Food Plots
While weedy food plots may receive more attention during the Summer months depending on the forage that is planted, this is absolutely not the case during the Fall. Weeds in food plots waste the resources of time and money, as well as opportunity when it comes to your ability to attract, hold, grow, and build a quality herd or hunt. NOW is the time to address any weed concerns by attacking your weeds before it becomes too late. I encourage you to consider postponing your planting timing for weed-free planting opportunities vs. rushing in and planting when weeds will certainly take over your planting. Repeated tilling, tilling and herbicide, and herbicide are all tactics to control your weeds but whatever method(s) you choose this is an absolute must.
Learn How To Hunt The Weather
Using the weather to predict exactly when to head to your favorite tree stand is one of the most reliable indications of a great deer hunt.
However, don’t wait until Fall to learn how to forecast your own level of hunting success! The same conditions that push a big ole mature buck to his feet during shooting light, are the exact same conditions that encourage big fat Summer whitetails to feed during the daylight. An algorithm that I developed years ago is too complex for a few sentences, but in a nutshell, it relies on major fronts that drop temperatures near the double digits or greater. When you combine the stress of a major temperature decrease along with the extremities of a major front, including high winds, lightening, hail, thundershowers, and snow; the table is set! Following a major front and the temperature drop that comes with it, the conditions are set for whitetails to move, feed, and replenish the energy reserves that have been depleted – even during the Summer. Make sure to prioritize the calm after the storm and whether you can physically observe deer or monitor with your trail cams, the weather will reveal major clues for deer movement during the Fall, and every other month during the year.
Scent Signature Reduction
What is the #1 way that you can control you scent during the hunting season? Choosing a strategic, predatory influenced stand location that takes your downwind scent cone out of the equation of your overall deer hunting strategy. However, a close #2 is by making sure that you control the amount of scent you leave when you enter and exit the deer woods. By mowing trails, reducing weeds and sticks, keeping your legs clear, spraying your rubber boots down and tucking your pants inside of your boots instead of outside of your boots, you can greatly reduce that amount of scent that you leave on the ground and in the brush while you sneak around the woods. Also, making sure that you quickly climb into your stand to reduce the amount of scent pad that you leave at the base of your tree, as well as being careful to touch your ladder or climbing sticks too close to the ground are also ways that make sure that you leave little to no scent behind.
It’s so easy to get too wrapped up in watching Summer time velvet giants that you forget about the priority of being Fall focused. Fall stand locations with mock scrapes, weed control, learning to hunt weather patterns and scent signature reduction are 4 ways to make sure that you stay on track with your priorities for a successful Fall hunt.