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Hunting season preparation: Doing your homework

Updated on June 25, 2012

Hunting season preparation

There’s a number of things to consider when preparing for the upcoming whitetail deer season, I like to use a checklist and break things down into 5 separate categories. You need to understand the deer food source and habitats for the area where you hunt. Also topographical maps, calendar, moon phases, and feeding charts, along with DNR stats for your state. With the combination of these you need to double check and prepare your hunting eq. and stands.


Whitetail deer routinely browse plants, grasses, clover, green brier, summer weeds, shoots, leaves and mushrooms. They will also feed on agriculture such as corn, soy beans and almost any fruit. Eating about 5 lbs. dry weight per day. During fall hunting season oak acorns are an important part of a deer’s diet, they help provide the much needed protein. However with that being said deer love fruits and berries, often called” deer candy” persimmons, blackberry, apples, mulberries, muscadines, pears and sumac are what to keep an eye on, deer will slip in and feed on these every chance they get. Deer will eat the freshest food source at that time, they will follow the changing food sources and so should you.


Deer have the ability to adapt to a wide variety of habitats, ranging from forests, woodlots, agriculture, swamps, marshes, even golf courses and neighborhoods. Deer need food, water, and cover but thrive in habitats that contain various size and ages of planted pines mixed with hardwood forest, creeks or ponds, agriculture and openings where they can get social. You have to locate where your water and food sources are but these always change, so will the travel areas the deer will use. Whitetails love to use thickets or swamps as a bedding area during the day and deer spend 70% of the time bedded, chewing their cud.


Studies show that breeding season or rut last 120+days, hunters are always, wanting to know when is the peak of the rut? The gestation period for deer is about 200 days, contact your local DNR and find when the most fawns were born that year, take 200 days from when they were born and that is about the peak. Breeding seasons vary but estrus is triggered by the amount of daylight hours and most areas rut is between late Sept. and early Feb. The estrus cycle of breeding does range from 21 to 30 days, during this time it’s your best chance to catch big boy out horny and not using his better judgement. Moon phases have a lot to do with the breeding cycle and most bucks are harvested near a full moon.


Topographical maps help locate openings, creeks, ponds, swamps and breaks or changes in tree lines, this can save a lot of wasted time. I use a compass and map to lay out areas to hunt before ever going into an area. Carry your map, compass, some flagging tape and you will improve your chances of getting in & out of the woods without getting lost. Also learn to walk in the woods, stay on dirt or grass and wear soft fabrics(it makes less noise) and rubber sole boots(leaves less scent behind), wets leaves are also quiet. You can use shallow creeks and ditches, you won’t leave tracks or scent to spook deer. When scouting it is best to look but not linger and try staying off deer trails. When hunting a management area once, I saw this nice 8pt. coming out of a thicket he had his head down, just as I was about to shoot the buck let out a loud snort and run hard the other way. When I got out of my stand that afternoon, I walked to the area to see a large boot imprint on the deer trail. There is so much information on the internet, tv and magazines so take the time to do your research before going to the woods.


You can start with a calendar, mark the moon phases and feeding charts on your calendar, mark north and south on your topo map, find the prevailing winds and make trails to your hunting area so your scent won’t be blowing in. It is better to make more than 1 trail and put stands at different crossing trails so you can vary your hunts. A deer will pattern you before you know it so keep hunting different stands and trails, just maybe you can surprise the deer. Check to make sure your stands bolts are all tight and safe. Now check your flashlight, rangefinder, binoculars, compass, gps or anything that takes batteries. Finally check your firearm and rifle scope, are the scope mounts tight? Is your rifle scope secured? Is your firearm clean? Is it sighted in properly. Hunting is as much mental as anything if you’ve done your homework and you know your hunting equipment is ready your odds have been greatly increased.


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    • ShootersCenter profile image

      David 4 years ago from Florida

      Thank you glad you found it useful. Deer hunting is quite a learning process, no matter how much time you spend in the woods you're always learning something new.

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      mudrunner 4 years ago

      this is a useful and quality info site for hunters i myself learned alot.