October 08, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
When it comes to chasing whitetails, deer hunters spend all season dreaming and scheming about how to get the buck of their dreams in front of their treestand or ground blind this fall.
But as the off-season winds down and the season approaches, there are usually a number of last-minute chores that need to get done if a big taxidermy bill and a freezer filled with venison are to become a reality. That includes figuring out what deer remain on your hunting property, getting a stand set up, or even planting a deer food plot, although the window for that is closing quickly.
Thankfully, whatever your pre-season needs happen to be, the hunting associates at your local Scheels store have got you covered, offering all kinds of vital deer hunting gear at prices that can work in any budget. And if you don't have a Scheels store location handy to where you live, then shopping at America's leader in hunting and fishing gear is as simple as getting online and going to Scheels.com.
As we wind down the final few weeks of pre-season prep time, here are some items to be on the lookout for during your Scheels' shopping experience, things that can help you seal the deal when the law comes off of deer season in a few weeks and Mr. Big comes walking down the trail:
This is simple, but fall deer-hunting success often comes down to how well you shoot when the heat is on and the shot opportunity of a lifetime comes calling.
And that means practice, practice, practice, all the way up until your actual hunt. Whether that's shooting practice with bullets sent downrange from your favorite deer rifle or arrows from your favorite bow, Scheels has you covered.
For bowhunters, there's even a wide variety of target styles to consider, from punching a 3D target like Field Logic's GlenDel Buck, stacking arrows into a block-style target like Rinehart's Rhino Block, or sending arrows into a bag target like Morrell's Yellow Jacket.
In fact, no matter what your practice and target needs are, your local Scheels store can help you hone your shooting skills all the way up to the moment of truth when Big Boy is standing only a few yards away.
2. Trail Cameras
One of the biggest innovations of the 21st century in the deer hunting world is the invention of the modern trail camera. While there were some enterprising do-it-yourselfers in days gone by that rigged up weatherproof housings, film cameras, and a triggering system to capture images of deer on the move, the devices have come a long way. All you have to do to understand that is consider all of the great cameras available at your local Scheels store or at the company's online site.
While the cameras are great ways to capture images and videos at any time of the year—during the heat of early season when bucks are hitting food sources, when the rut ramps up, in patterning daytime appearances, and in the off-season months to see which bucks have survived—the devices really shine in the pre-season days when hunters are trying to come up with a big buck inventory list.
Put the camera out in a strategic location, put out some bait (if the law allows for that in your area), and let a few days go by to see which bucks come walking by. Over time, you can develop a good list of the bucks you have in your hunting spot this fall and make plans to invite them to the taxidermist and dinner table!
3. Food and Attractants
If you plan on using a trail camera to inventory bucks you have on your hunting ground this fall, you'll likely want to use some sort of food and/or attractant (again, if such a tactic is legal where you hunt).
Find a spot where deer are normally seen, a place where there is a high volume of traffic, or even a funnel area that always produces, and set the camera you choose—from Scheels, of course—up and then put something out to lure the deer in to get their picture taken.
In Texas where I live, there's nothing more important to the state's deer hunters—in an arid place where tracks and traditional deer sign is hard to find, by the way—than a bag of deer corn. Set up a Moultrie tripod feeder, a Moultrie Deer Feeder Pro II tripod feeder, hang a Moultrie Feed Station II gravity style deer feeder on a tree or a fence post, or even pour the corn on the ground and the deer should start showing up soon.
Other food options exist like deer protein pellets or rice bran. If that seems like something you want to try, it's as simple as checking with our local feed store for what they recommend.
You can also go the route of attractants. Where legal, deer attractants can work wonders in attracting deer to your cameras, things like minerals, additives to corn and other feed, and even products that you simply pour on the ground.
If this tactic works where you hunt, consider a Big & J Long Range Attractant Cube, a 40-pound bag of Big Tine Fortified Deer Blend, Antler King Roasted Bean Cuisine attractant, or even Big & J BB2 Granular Deer Attractant to name a few.
4. Spotting Scopes
While this tactic is a bit old school in the minds of some given the development of all of the trail camera technology referenced above, stories about this tactic used to be a late-summer staple in leading hunting publications like Bowhunter, Petersen's Bowhunting, North American Whitetail, and Game and Fish.
Old school or not, this time-honored western big-game hunting technique—glassing up big bucks and bulls with some good optics—also works for whitetails as long as you have some dependable early season food sources to watch.
So if the part of the world you hunt in has a pasture with a corner feeder down in Texas, a soybean or cornfield in the Midwest, a green early season food plot in the south, or even a dwindling waterhole in the arid west, visit your local Scheels for great spotting scope possibilities.
With products in every price range, Scheels can get you outfitted with the latest and greatest from various manufacturers like Athlon, Leupold, Swarovski, and Vortex. Add in a few accessories like a pad to sit on, a camouflage T-shirt, and a tripod to put the spotting scope on and you're good to go. In fact, about all that's left to do on a late summer evening is to slip into a good vantage point, set up your scope, and start dreaming of fall as fuzzy antlered giants ease out of the woods for an evening stroll.
5. Stands and Blinds
While many hunters have a good supply of stands in their garage or shop out back, there's always a new spot that jumps out in pre-season scouting chores.
When you find such a spot—or if you have an old stand that needs replacing—now is the time to visit Scheels for a new platform to hunt from. Whether that’s a traditional hang-on style treestand with steps or climbing sticks, a climbing stand, or a ladder stand, Scheels has a wide array of budget options covered from manufacturers like Big Game, Hawk, Lone Wolf, Millennium, Muddy, Rivers Edge, Summit, XOP, and X-Stand to name a few.
And if you want to stay on the ground, there's plenty of options there too with a wide selection of ground blinds including products offered by Ameristep, Ghost Blind, Muddy, Primos Double Bull, and Xenek. And don't forget a good hunting chair and a few accessories to make your time on the ground enjoyable and productive as you wait to punch a tag.
6. Cutting Tools
No matter what type of blind or stand you find yourself hunting from this fall, you'll need a few cutting tools as you head into the pre-season woods.
From a Smith's Folding Limb Saw to a Gerber Gator Axe and Saw Combo II to a Buck Compadre Camp Axe, be sure that you have a way to saw a few limbs, reduce the canopy of foliage, and trim out a few shooting lanes as you get ready for deer season.
7. Scent and Insect Control
While scent control during your fall hunts is a story unto itself, don't forget to watch your scent as you go through final preparations for the upcoming season. After all, you don't want to give the big bucks on your property any sort of tipoff that you're there and that you're coming their way in a few weeks.
That means that whether you wear your fall hunting clothes or simply a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt for the hot and sweaty work that remains, pay some attention to your scent control, laundering your clothes in a scent free detergent, spraying down with a scent controlling field spray, or even carrying a small ozone type of scent control device into the woods that will help safeguard an area as you work.
And while you're at it, don’t forget that the late summer and early autumn pre-season woods can be filled with insects like mosquitoes, black flies, chiggers, and ticks. That means that an insect repellent like Dead Down Winds Insect Defense is an absolute must in the pre-season woods.
If all of this seems like a bit much, remember that you're hoping for a single shot opportunity at the buck of your dreams this fall and he didn't grow an outsized set of head gear without exercising some backwoods smarts down through the years.
You're playing a woodsy game of chess, after all, and every move counts on the board, including the pre-season gear that you choose to get ready for the hunt.
That's something that Scheels can help you with in-person or online as time ticks down for the start of deer season in just a few weeks.
In fact, about the only thing that America's leader in deer hunting gear sales can't do is to help you pay your taxidermy bill this fall.
But then again, that's a problem that every deer hunter in America would like to have, right?