5 Tips for Early Season Deer Hunting

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Video early season deer hunting tips

When Is Early Season Deer Hunting?

The early season to hunt whitetail deer is from the beginning of September until the end of October. Preparation during this time is the best way to harvest a mature buck. You’ll see more deer in November, but if you locate a buck now, you’ll have a higher chance of success. In early fall, bucks are predictable and stick to one area, as human hunters haven’t been on their radar for months.

Here are five tips for successful early-season deer hunting.

Table of Contents

  • Get The Lay of the Land
  • Plan Entry and Exit Routes
  • Hunt Near Water and Food Sources
  • Control Your Scent
  • Check Your Gear

Tip 1: Get the Lay of the Land

Knowing the land where you’ll be hunting is possibly the most important thing to consider during the early hunting months. Research your hunting grounds, take a look at aerial maps and photos, and see how other hunters have taken to the area.

A month or two before you plan to hunt, you should visit the hunting grounds in person to see how the terrain flows and how the deer use the land flow. You can also see how wind flows through areas where you want to set up, which is very important in deciding where to position treestands and trail cameras.

Hunter scouting during early season deer hunting

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Tip 2: Plan Entry and Exit Routes

When you visit your future hunting grounds, you’ll want to plan entry and exit routes from your treestand to avoid bumping into deer and alerting them of your presence.

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Tip 3: Hunt Near Water and Food Sources

Water is an essential attractant for deer in the warmer weather of the early season. If you’re hunting in a new area, you can just find a water source, but the ideal water setup is a creek, natural pond, or push-up pond that’s close to both food and cover.

Another powerful attractant is acorns that fall during the early season, especially white oak acorns. You should gravitate toward areas with fallen acorns for hunting. When deer aren’t eating acorns, they’re likely eating grass and other green food before it dries out in the winter, so you should set up in areas with lush, green food.

hunter in the woods during early season deer hunting

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Tip 4: Control Your Scent

Controlling your scent is of utmost importance during the warmer, early-season months since you’re more likely to sweat and give off human odor.

Here are some ways you can minimize your human scent:

  • Dress light: Wear moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly and keep you cool in warm weather.
  • Wait to dress: Wait to put on your jacket, gloves, and head net until you’re settled in your treestand so you don’t get too hot on the way there.
  • Shower with odor-eliminating soaps: Odor-eliminating soaps and shampoos are designed to get rid of odor and prevent it from coming back, which will keep you scent-free longer during your hunt.
  • Spray everything: You should spray yourself and your clothes with scent-eliminating sprays, but you should also spray everything you touch. Spray binoculars, rangefinders, grunt finders, etc. On your person, focus on places where sweat gathers, like the inside of your hat and the inside of your boots.
  • Check wind direction: To minimize your presence, you’ll want the wind in your face as much as possible. You should work toward the source of the wind since you don’t want it carrying your scent to your prey.
  • Spray often: You should spray multiple times throughout the hunt as you warm up and begin to sweat. And—spray down your treestand and the surrounding area before you leave; otherwise, you’ll alert deer of your presence.
  • Wash your hunting clothes: After every hunt, wash your hunting clothes with unscented detergent without additive brighteners to eliminate odor and preserve the camouflage of your clothing.
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woman bowhunter in the woods during early season deer hunting

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woman hunter during early season deer hunting

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Tip 5: Check Your Gear

Make sure all your gear is in working order before you plan your first hunt. You should:

  • Test your trail cameras and make sure the time and dates are accurate so you can monitor the local deer herd
  • Ensure your treestands are safe and secure—replace straps and safety harness ropes annually, along with any rusted cables and bolts
  • Make a checklist of the accessories in your hunting pack:
    • Bow holder / rifle holder
    • Bino harness
    • Tree tether and suspension relief strap as part of your fall arrest system
    • Rangefinder holder
  • Choose quiet, comfortable, moisture-wicking warm weather hunting clothes:
    • SolAir Technical Hoodie
    • Insect Shield® SolAir Lightweight Pants Tall
    • Insect Shield® SolAir Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>