Try These Early Season Bowhunting Tips for Big Buck Success

Try These Early Season Bowhunting Tips for Big Buck Success
Following a few bowhunting discipline tips during the early whitetail season can often help improve odds for big buck success through the late season. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

Simply being in the deer woods doesn't guarantee success, especially early in the season; if you'd like to do more than wipe sweat from your brow and swat at mosquitoes, add these four early-season big buck tips into your bag of bowhunting skills

As summer comes to an end each year, deer hunters all across the nation begin to anxiously anticipate the year's best time of all.

And that's the time when the law comes off of another year of hunting and we can all rush into the woods with our stick and strings in hand to chase another big whitetail.

After all, many of us dream of having big-antler success every year, the kind of success enjoyed by so many of Outdoor Channel's top hunters.

Whether it is chasing Montana whitetails with Bill Jordan, Tyler Jordan and David Blanton of Realtree Outdoors; an Illinois bruiser with Tom Miranda of Adventure Bowhunter; a Missouri monarch with Michael Hunsucker and Shawn Luchtel of Heartland Bowhunter; a Canadian giant with Pat and Nicole Reeve of Driven; an Iowa monster with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky of Crush; or a South Texas Muy Grande with Jordan Shipley and the crew at The Bucks of Tecomate; we all dream big antlered dreams.


And while everybody gets excited about the rut later on in the fall – and rightfully so – the fact is, as the hunters above so often prove, there is some great early-season bowhunting action to be had for those who will carefully head to the woods.


If the hunters above don't prove this point every fall, then odds are other folks will, show hosts like Don and Kandi Kisky of Whitetail Freaks, Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo of Archer's Choice, the Drury family of THIRTEEN and the Holder clan of Raised Hunting.


In nearly every show referenced above, there are annually some big bruiser bucks that hit the ground when the heat is still on and bowhunting seasons are only days old.

Interested in finding similar success on your own hunting ground? Then keep the following four tips in mind as you head afield and try to make your early-season bowhunting a success.

First, when the early-archery season opens up, be ready to go on preferred food sources since late-summer and early-fall whitetails are still hitting the buffet line with regularity.


The reason for this is deer are still basically in their late-summer feeding patterns across most areas. If they have been undisturbed in recent days, that should give hunters a week or two of dependable feeding behavior each evening.

How do you take advantage of this? By observing feeding deer from a distance for two or three evenings in a row, pinpointing EXACTLY where deer are emerging in the last hour of shooting light to feed and positioning a stand accordingly.

You also can figure this out with trail-cameras, setting up your cameras over natural food sources, early-season food plots or even bait sites (where legal) to see when and where deer are emerging from the dark woods for a late afternoon or early evening snack.




When you have all of that figured out, then hang a treestand pronto for a quick-strike, early-season ambush.

Second, don't be too aggressive, too early.

While early-season food patterns can be good, the best hunting conditions in some areas – for big bucks at least – will often take place later on in October as the pre-rut kicks into gear, the month of November as deer get frisky and the frigid days of December as the rut wanes and the need for food and nutrition puts deer on the move as they seek to build up their fat reserves for the coming winter.

What does all of that mean? Well, in my book, crowding in too close to the early-morning bedding areas of almost completely nocturnal early-season whitetails can be a ticket for disaster and a good way to spook bucks off of your hunting property.

Trust me, after more than two decades of bowhunting across Texas and in other states, I've learned that early-season lesson the hard way.

Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt to prove it, although I'd much rather have the taxidermy bill to prove the point.

A third early-season bowhunting tip for whitetails is to avoid the temptation to become a deer photography geek, at least where whitetails are bedding down.

While trail-cameras are all the rage in deer hunting circles, barging into a deer's bedroom to pull digital media SD cards DURING the deer season can actually have a detrimental effect on a piece of prime deer hunting property.

Why? Because mature bucks aren't stupid, that's why! Traipse into a big buck's bedroom in late summer or early fall and you run the risk of letting a mature buck know he is being hunted. And once he knows that, you're chances of harvested the mature buck become almost zero, zilch, nil, none and nada.

Finally, as whitetail bowhunting seasons open up, be sure to avoid one of the biggest mistakes a bowhunter can make each year.

And that's to let your shooting form slide into the ditch. In other words, keep practicing your archery shooting throughout the season.

Why? Because shooting form – and in some cases, archery equipment – can fall out of whack or even fail during the course of a lengthy deer season.

Editor’s Note: Another reason to practice all season is due to camo clothing changes. Big insulated jackets, face masks gloves and other accessories can and will change your shooting form. Very important to practice – at least some – in the same hunting clothes you are going to wear as the season ages.

Trust me, you don't want to realize somewhere in-season you can't hold as long or as easily as you did during summer 3-D shoots and practice rounds, especially when a mature buck walks into a shooting lane and stops just short of exposing his boiler-room vitals.

Ditto for discovering the bow’s sight pins aren't dead-on any longer, an arrow drawn across the arrowrest now makes noise, or maybe the peep sight is developing an alignment problem; there are hundreds of reasons to schedule regular bow practice.

When it comes to bowhunting big whitetails, a shot opportunity at a real live bruiser buck doesn’t come around very often. So be sure your shooting ability and your equipment remain in top notch form from start to finish during the fall deer hunting campaign.

Put these tips into practice and who knows what might happen? Maybe, just maybe, you'll be like the Outdoor Channel hunting experts mentioned above, learning as they do that sometimes, even with deer hunters, it really is the early bird that gets the worm.

Or in this case, a giant-rack buck heading straight for the local taxidermist's shop, early season or not.

Recommended for You

 Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

The Pennsylvania man's trophy fish was more than two pounds heavier than the previous record. Records

No Kidding: Angler Smashes Record for Lake Trout

Scott Bernarde - May 21, 2019

The Pennsylvania man's trophy fish was more than two pounds heavier than the previous record.

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

          From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

See More Stories

More Hunting How-To

It's not over after the rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead. Whitetail

Make Late Season the Great Season

Mark Chesnut - November 20, 2019

It's not over after the rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead.

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts. Whitetail

Pre-Rut Strategies: Bucks By the Water

Mark Kayser

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts.

Most hunters shoot better at targets than at deer. The right practice can solve that problem. Whitetail

Pick a Hair: How to Practice for Perfect Deer Shots

Richard Mann - November 13, 2019

Most hunters shoot better at targets than at deer. The right practice can solve that problem.

See More Hunting How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.