By Mark Kenyon
60 days…1,440 hours…86,400 minutes…5,184,000 seconds. Any way you look at it, hunting season is quickly approaching. With August now here at our doorstep, the common October 1 archery opener for many states is a mere two months away and I’m sweating. Anyone else? It seems that every single year, no matter how much I try to prepare myself, I’m always scrambling during the final few months to get ready for hunting season and 2012 looks to be right on par.
For me, the next two months leading up to the season are a study in contrasts. August will see me completing a lot of tasks in the woods to finalize preparations for the opener. On the other hand, September couldn’t be any more different. Assuming all goes to plan, I won’t step foot on my hunting properties for this entire month. But this obviously puts a lot of pressure on me to accomplish everything I need to in the month prior. That being said, the three most important tasks for me to complete in August revolve around finalizing stands, travel, and food. If you can work through a similar to-do list this month, you’ll be well on your way to a restful September and a “bucky” October!
1. Finalize All Stand Locations: As mentioned above, August is my last month in the woods. I’d like to even stay out of the woods longer, but for those guilty of procrastinating (ie ME), August is acceptable. Now is the time to make sure that all of your stands are set, your lanes are trimmed and your straps are tight. If you need to move stands around or do some last minute scouting for a new location, you’d better get it done now. I like to try and have all of us this done by early August, if possible, and then I’ll leave them be for 45-60 days before the season begins!
Be sure to pay attention to the details now too. Make sure you’ve got a pull up rope attached, a bow hanger screwed in, and any last branches in the way are trimmed out. Move around on your stands to check for squeaks, and if you have them use a little bit of lubrication to quiet the noise. Now is the time to iron out all of the kinks so that you’ll be in the perfect position to have success come fall.
2. Clear Travel Corridors: One thing I’ve been trying to get better at this year and that I’d recommend to you is planning stealthy entry and exit routes to my stands. One way to do that is to prepare travel corridors before the season to allow for easy and quiet access to your hunting areas. You could clear brush from a ditch that you’re using to walk into a stand, or maybe you need to mow down some CRP to allow you a clear and quiet path. Given my experience on one of my farms last year, I knew I needed to find a “back door” route to and from a certain stand. So I came in this year and was able to spray a path with RoundUp to kill the vegetation. I’ve now got an easy and quiet path to use, which is surrounded by tall CRP – inherently disguising my entry and exit. Another idea for hiking through wooded areas is to clear a path of leaves and brush before the season. Of course more leaves will cover the ground come fall, but clearing a path of sticks definitely helps keep things quiet – and a slightly less leafy floor can’t hurt either. If things get covered up again, you can always sneak in on a rainy day and rake away leaves. Use this month of August to find your own ideal travel routes that keep you undetected and prepare them for quiet and concealed use.
3. Plant Your Fall Food Plot: Now is the time to stock the fall buffet for your resident whitetails. With the struggles many farmers have had given the drought, establishing a food plot may be more important than ever this year.
That being said, make sure you’ve gotten a soil test completed so that you know what kind of lime/fertilizer is needed and then prep that ground. From there it will be a waiting game for rain – which hopefully we’ll have someday – and then the seed can go in the ground! Many annual food plots , such as Whitetail Institute’s Winter Greens, are able to be planted anytime from Mid August into early September. Again to my rule of leaving the woods alone in September, try to complete your plots sooner than later and then leave them alone.
If you aren’t into food plots, or don’t have the ability to plant one – you can still use this time to get a good idea of what’s on the menu for whitetails in your area. Do a little scouting to determine what trees are producing acorns, check if those couple apple trees are sporting a good crop of fruit, and spy on the agricultural fields in your area to see how the drought has impacted them. Understanding what food sources are available is key to having success in October.
We’re only hours away from hunting season (1,440 to be exact), so make sure you’re checking off your to-do list heading into fall. If you can get these three tasks completed in August – you’ll be right on schedule for a big buck soon!