Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak
Fall archery season is right around the corner, and in some places, like my home state of Florida, it’s already under way in a few areas. Now is the time to start preparing and thinking about how you’re going to turn this season into a successful one. But before you go racing off into the stand, there are a few things to keep in mind that can not only help make your season more successful, but also a little safer.
Gear, Gear…And More Gear
Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t really looked at our hunting pack since last season. It’s beyond time to go through it and make sure you have everything you need and that those items are in good working condition. Things like plenty of reflective tacks/tape, batteries for your flashlight, first aid kit, etc. There’s nothing worse than getting out into the field only to discover you’ve forgotten something vital at the house because you haven’t updated your pack.And we shouldn’t forget about probably the most important piece of gear for archery season: The bow itself. It’s vital to make sure that your bow is functioning just as it should. Ensure that each arrow you’re carrying with you hasn’t (somehow) received some damage over the course of the year and that all the fletching is in good condition. All of this, however, should be taken care of LONG before it’s time to hunt because it’s past time for practicing. It doesn’t really matter how well you’ve got your gear together when you’re out of practice in the actual shooting process.
Water, Water Everywhere
Depending on what part of the country you’re hunting, archery season can be anything from pretty warm to downright hellish. Here in Florida, it’s the latter. It’s practically still summer here, and scouting/trudging around in the woods looking for deer isn’t the coolest activity one can do in 90+ degree weather. Always make sure to carry more water than you plan on drinking. And don’t stop drinking. As a good rule of thumb in the heat, if you stop sweating then you’re already dehydrated.
Speaking of water, this time of the year still brings plenty of rain. Many roads will be flooded thanks to high water levels. Remember to never drive into water when you don’t know how deep it is. It seems like common sense, but I’m shocked every year at the amount of flooded trucks I see from people who’ve done just that. And it isn’t just roads that get flooded. In many instances, the woods will be too. If you’re hunting any low lying area, just be sure to have footwear that can get wet. Just because the area was dry during scouting season doesn’t mean it’ll be dry on opening day.Naturally with rain comes thunderstorms, and with thunderstorms comes lightning. This time of the year, afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence. If you’re lucky enough to have cell signal from your stand, be sure to have some sort of radar app downloaded and check it often. If not, don’t be a dummy and sit in a tall tree during a lightning storm. Seek cover immediately.
The Deer Themselves
You can, of course, do everything right and still not see deer. This time of the year is rather unique. The deer have been unpressured for the past nine months so they won’t be exhibiting those highly pressured deer patterns. They won’t, for the most part, be completely nocturnal. However, it is still very hot out. Just like us, animals don’t want to get too hot. This time of the year, they will lay low and ride out the heat of the day in order to come out in the late evening and early morning. Don’t kill yourself by being in the stand for too long in the morning or too early in the afternoon. The bucks also haven’t really begun showing signs of rutting activity yet. You can expect to find a few rubs here and there, but rarely any scrapes. Bucks will often still be cruising around in bachelor groups this time of the year, so try and take that into account when picking a stand. It’s hard to pattern a single animal during early archery season.
So if you find yourself, like many of us, chomping at the bit to get out in the stand with a bow, just take all of these things into account before you leave. Make sure your gear is in proper working order and you’ve got everything you need. Feel confident with your shooting abilities, and always keep an eye on that weather. With any luck, you may very well be staring at a bachelor group of bucks in the near future—there are few ways to better start off a season than with a successful hunt.