By Ryan Miloshewski
How does it feel, being back in a tree? I’ve certainly missed the feeling of being behind a bow 18 feet up! Deer season in Missouri and Kansas is finally underway, thus beginning the months-long quest for a mature whitetail buck. In this edition of Whitetail Weekly, I’m going to share some great info about what can help you be successful in the early season!
Tips and Tactics
Food sources are the clear ticket right now. Soybeans, corn, green fields and food plots is where you need to be sitting. Green fields/food plots will be more productive now, so if you have the opportunity to hunt over one on your property, do so. Once the soybeans start to turn yellow, deer will abandon that food source quickly. In the early season, they eat the leaves of the plant. In the winter they eat the actual beans. When the leaves turn yellow, they are not palatable to deer anymore. One thing to monitor is the acorn crop on your piece of land. Once those little nuggets start falling, the deer will be ALL OVER them. If you know where the best mast producing trees on your property are located, check on them periodically. Along the same lines, once honey locust pods and persimmons start falling (which will happen with cooler weather–which isn’t in the forecast) they will be deer magnets.
I’m hunting in Eastern Kansas and our trail cameras show morning movement to be way down. The deer are feeding until 6:30 am or so and then heading to bed before the heat. A cool spell (55 deg. in the mornings) a week and a half ago kept deer on their feet until 8:30 am or so, but that is long gone. Hunt the afternoons and sleep in. Deer are getting up to feed around 6:00 pm and hanging out in the fields for a long time. Make sure you get in by 5:00 pm and have a good exit route out of your stand. Deer can be educated quickly in these situations!
Bucks seem to be sticking to the cover of darkness, which isn’t surprising. Most notably, a couple of scrapes have popped up over the course of the week. And they are being worked regularly, based on the smell and lack of debris. I placed a camera over an active one yesterday. I am sure the activity is at night, but it’ll be a good way to take inventory. I sprinkled some buck urine in it to spur curiosity.
Bottom line: it’s still hot and deer are sticking to their crepuscular nature. With the every shortening photoperiod, activity will increase in daylight hours. Don’t pressure them unnecessarily now. Hunt a stand you can get to and from easily, monitor trail cameras diligently, and enjoy being back in the whitetail woods!
-Scent control is a major key to success, more so than the early season when it’s hot. Sweat and body odor emanating from your location can spell disaster. To combat this, I bring in a packet of Dead Down Wind Field Wash Cloths in my pack. Once I get to the stand I take a mini “shower” to wipe away the stink I’ve generated walking to the stand.
-Fawns start to lose their spots around mid-September. This occurs because of the molting process needed for them to grow their winter coats. All deer molt twice a year–from summer to winter coat, and winter to summer coat. Look for deer with blotchy coats to indicate molting is occurring. I recently saw a doe with a brown body and reddish-tan legs!
-Turkey season starts October 1st in MO and KS. Turkeys are slaves to their stomachs this time of year. Set up near a prime food source littered with feathers and droppings and you’ll be in business. Or, scatter a flock while they’re roosted and call them back once the sun rises. What a rush, having 20-30+ birds reconvening on your location!
-Fall officially starts September 22nd. Silver and red maples, sycamores, and hickories are the first trees to change their leaf color in the fall. Rainfall, temperature, and other weather conditions determine how intense the color change can be, and when it occurs. Based on the wet summer we had, the fall colors should be brilliant.
-The first true cold snap that occurs in September will send thousands of doves and teal heading south. Pay attention to the weather and be ready to hunt.
Quote of the Week: “Wilderness is not a luxury, but necessity of the human spirit.” –Edward Abbey