Finally, after a long layoff, hunters are getting back into the woods, but many who venture into the sweltering deer stands of early archery season are doing so unprepared. 

Too many spent the offseason fishing, lounging around and waiting on deer season to open, when the first weeks of the season may offer the best opportunity to get that buck you have been targeting. They are very predictable and easily patterned, so it’s time to use your knowledge and skill to put an arrow where it needs to be. 

Afternoons or mornings?  

Many bowhunters skip hunting mornings, thinking that afternoons are best early in the season. But the opposite may be true. In places where bow season opens in mid-September, bucks are already putting on their winter coats, and the heat of the afternoon can be oppressive. Cooler, morning temperatures make it not only more comfortable for the deer, but also for hunters. Cooler morning temperatures tend to allow bucks to lazily wander back to their beds. After months of not being under any hunting pressure, a cool morning will often bring bucks past your stand more consistently than afternoon hunts.

Stopping your scent

Vicki Cianciarulo, co-host of Archer’s Choice and The Choice, might is perhaps the most-accomplished female hunter on television. She has spent an inordinate amount of time in the field during the early season in more than 30 years on television. She said scent control is one of the most-important elements in the early season. 

“Being able to keep the deer from smelling you is essential,” she said, explaining that she and her husband and co-host, Ralph, have a regimen of laundry, bathing, spraying everything down and wearing the right clothes to keep perspiration at a minimum. She said hunting the wind is more critical in the early season than at any other time. 

“Our bodies emit a lot of odors, and while scents and masking agents certainly help, nothing helps better than hunting the wind. You have to pay close attention to the wind, especially during the early season,” she said. 

No buzz-buzz

Other concerns of early season hunting in the Carolinas are controlling the throngs of mosquitoes that will feast on you while you are in your stand. Hordes that descend on you in Biblical proportions can make hunting impossible. Nothing has changed hunting more than ThermaCell products. Many hunters will go home before hunting without their ThermaCell mosquito appliance. Being able to sit on stand comfortably and for extended periods is essential for killing bucks. Comfortable hunters are successful hunters. Hunters who are constantly sweating and swatting are not going to be successful. 

Practice, practice, practice

Last, prepare and practice before the season with your equipment. Too often, bowhunters shelve their bows and arrows until a few weeks before the season opens, then sling a few arrows and consider themselves ready. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. You should go through your equipment with a fine-toothed comb every season. Check your cams, cables and string.  Serving tends to wear, so replace your “D-loop.” Clean you sights and check your rest. Check every bolt and screw on your bow, going through it carefully and tightening everything. 

Arrows are next. If they’re bent, cracked or splintered, they need replacing, and good ones may need re-fletching. after that, check your peripheral equipment: release aid, broadheads, quivers, etc. It’s not a bad idea to carry a spare release aid in your pack.

Employing these tactics and tips can help you be better prepared for early season when the buck of your dreams shows up during the cool of the morning.