It may be the “off season”, but is there really ever such a thing? Even though most of us aren’t able to shoot deer right now, the work being done at this very moment could help you close the deal next fall. So with that being said, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to work and here are four projects you can focus on right now that should help you close the deal in 2012!

1. Look For New Hunting Ground: As we all know, hunting ground can come and go more often than we like. So it’s always a good idea to have more than you need. Now is the perfect time to start your search for new property, and I like to do this in several ways. First off, if you’re looking to determine what properties are worth leasing or asking permission on,  over the next few days you can still spot a lot of deer in fields with headgear, and a few drives around town can help you identify general areas with good bucks. Then in February and March go ahead and try getting permission to shed hunt on some of these properties. From here, take this opportuntiy shed hunting to also do some good scouting and determine whether any of these properties are worth pursuing further.

If you’re looking to lease or buy ground, take advantage of online hunting property sites like Whitetail Properties, Hunting Lease Network or Base Camp Leasing to help you find available properties. The internet is an incredible resource when it comes to finding and researching new properties, and online maps like Google Maps can be hugely helpful as well. That all being said, don’t forget about the power of good old fashion people too. Sometimes just asking around can be the ticket for finding a gem of a hunting location. And remember, when it comes to asking for permission, the worst they can say is no!

2. Practice With Your Bow Or Gun: This is a task that should, if possible, be year round. I know this is certainly not revolutionary advice, but it’s so important I just have to bring it up again. All the work in the world is wasted if you can’t make the shot count in the end.

Practicing with your weapons of choice in the off season is obviously helpful to stay in shooting shape for next fall, but it’s also a fun way to shake off that cabin fever. And if you’re really looking to take your target practice to another level, hit the woods and do some coyote hunting! Kills two birds with one stone.

3. Review Your Past Season: Here’s something that I’ve been trying to do a better job of the past few years, and it is reviewing my past season. If you keep a hunting journal, it can come in really handy for this. If not, no worries, just try to take some time over the coming weeks to look back on your hunts in 2011 and analyze what went right and what went wrong. If you can pick out at least one mistake, and brainstorm how you could have done things better, it should help you down the road.

You can also study any notes, videos or pictures from the past season you collected, and sometimes these records can help you identify trends or patterns. I’m trying to get better at collecting as much data from each hunt as I can, for example wind/weather/stand location/etc, and then recording it. This gives me some great information to look back on and consider for future reference.

4. Keep Learning: If you want to be a great whitetail hunter, I’m convinced you need to be a life-time learner. There’s always more to learn when it comes to whitetails, and these cold winter months are the perfect time to catch up on some whitetail studies.

Looking for some ideas? Here are a few pieces of recommended reading that I’ve enjoyed recently – Mapping Trophy Bucks, Bowhunting The Eberhart Way, Deer & Deer Hunting’s Guide To Better Bowhunting and Hunting Mature Whitetails the Lakosky Way. It also couldn’t hurt to keep up on Wired To Hunt too!

So if you’re starting to get the post-whitetail season blues, don’t fret. A new season has begun and it’s time to get busy!