Whitetail Weekly with Ryan Miloshewski
By Ryan Miloshewski
You’ve been thinking about deer hunting already, right? No? Well, I’m back and I’m here to kick you into gear! Summer is the off-season of deer hunting. All sports have off-seasons, and much of your success during the season depends on how you spend your time during the off-season. Bryce Harper does not sit around eating Chipotle and watching Netflix when he’s not playing baseball. He’s studying his opponents, training his body, honing his skills, and mentally preparing for the long season ahead. Take this attitude and modify it for deer season; study the deer you will hunt, train your body, shoot your bow, and envision the hunts you will take part in this fall. If you’re not taking this approach, it’s not too late to start.
Let’s take a look at what you need to start doing now, before it’s too late.
1) Shoot your Bow. Nothing is as heartbreaking and avoidable as missing a deer when the moment of truth comes. Target panic, poor anchoring, etc can all be worked out during the summer months. The easy cure is to simply shoot your bow. I like to shoot every day, but realistically I get out there three to five days a week. At first, it’s all about getting back to form. Shoot a lot of arrows to trigger that muscle memory. As the months progress, focus on being accurate and shooting from different distances. As the season approaches, I’ll shoot maybe one-three arrows a day. One tactic, to simulate a hunting situation with a mature buck, is to run in place for 1 minute or do 25 push-ups, then immediately shoot my arrow. It’ll show your true colors, and I use it as a measuring stick. Regardless of what you do, just get out and shoot! You don’t want to miss a bruiser in November when you could have prevented it in July.
2) Run your Trail Cameras. Right now should be “inventory time.” Place trail cameras near feeding areas, on commonly used trails, or over mineral licks to see what bucks are holing up in your neck of the woods. It is intriguing and rewarding knowing which buck you want to arrow once September rolls around. Don’t focus on patterning now, and try to avoid checking the camera too much. Just let it run and take as many pictures as it can to let you know what bucks are in the area.
3) Refresh/Establish Mineral Licks. Mineral licks are an important part of summer scouting for whitetails. Every deer, buck/doe/fawn, will be attracted to the sites. Bucks use the minerals to help grow their antlers; doe use them to help with milk production and general health, and fawns to aid in healthy development. Set up a mineral lick (my favorite is a Trophy Rock or a Primos Red Spot, but any will do) near a bedding area or food source and place a camera over it. You’ll be seeing deer almost immediately, and it’ll give the herd vital nutrients they may not otherwise obtain. If you already have one established, freshen it up with new minerals to get optimal visits.
4) Hang Deer Stands/Repair Deer Stands. If you did not do these tasks after the season ended in January or February, this it the time to do it. Deer you spook will be well-settled by the time the season comes around. Fix the squeaky rail on your favorite stand, slide the ladder stand up the tree down in the hollow, or simply place a new stand up and trim lanes. Placing a new stand should be based on fall/winter scouting, and not where deer are now. There may be little to no sign in an area that is lit up in October—remember that when placing a new set up! All this can be done now, with little to no side effects of your hunting.
5) Trim Trails to and from Your Stands. One of the easiest ways to ruin a hunt is to spook deer walking to your tree or back to your truck. Now is the time to take that possibility and throw it out the window. Trim stealthy entry and exit trails near your stands so the possibility of spooking deer when you hunt is lowered substantially. Wind is always a factor, but not making any noise or stumbling around in the dark ups your chances for success. Plus, you already hung the stand based on thermals, right?
6) Hit the Gym. Much like other athletes, you need to train your body to get ready for the season. You’ll be hiking up and downs hills, hauling gear, and hopefully dragging out a big old buck. Not being in shape while attempting these duties is a no-no in today’s world. It’s amazing how much more you’re able to do—both mentally and physically—when you workout to prepare for deer season. Maybe the buck is over the next ridge and in order to get to him you have to take a long strenuous route. Being able to go after him can make or break the season, or at least part of it. So, be able to go after him. Get in the gym, do some cardio, lift some weights, eat your vitamins, say your prayers, and do some skwaats!
Preparing for deer season is not an exact science, and most hunters do it in varying ways. However, these six tips should be mainstays in your summer preparation. Each property is different, and each hunter is different, but starting these six tasks now will aid you come September and the later fall months. In life, preparation and practice leads to success. Deer hunting is no different.
So, who are you going to be, Bryce Harper or Alex Rios? I’ll think I’ll be Bryce.
-Fawns are birthed between late may and mid June. If you find one, leave it alone. More times than not, the mother is nearby.
-Summer is a perfect time to enjoy the previous years’ harvest. Try grilling venison or wild turkey kabobs, or smoking the tenderloin of the buck you shot last November.
-Hummingbird feeders will soon be swarmed with newly hatched fledglings. Make sure your feeders are full every day!
-There is no better way to spend a summer night than on a farm pond with a black jitterbug.
-Look for wild turkey poults on your trail cameras. They should be maturing nicely by now.
–Thirteen is the most informative hunting show I’ve watched. Mark and Terry Drury are masters of their craft. Tune in on the Outdoor Channel Tuesday nights at 9PM CST.
-Talk to your neighbors before the season starts to determine their goals and what they are wanting to harvest. Working together to manage a deer herd can work wonders and keep everybody on the same page.
Quote of the Week: “”One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted…If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.” –Jose Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting.