By Alex Comstock
The last couple of seasons, one of the ways I've documented my hunting seasons have been through the journal series. This year I'm going to start it a little earlier than previous years, and I'll be keeping you updated every few weeks or so during the off-season, and then more regularly during the fall. With that said, I wanted to lay out to you my thoughts on 2018, and what I hope to accomplish.
Big Adjustment: My biggest adjustment (and hurdle) for 2018 is that this is my first full season living in Minnesota since 2013. If there's any silver lining, 2013 is still one of my best years of hunting I've ever experienced, and I hope that's the case again this year. It'll be a big change to figure out how I'm going to plan my trips to North Dakota and hopefully Nebraska this year, while spending a majority of the time here, around where I live in Minnesota. The biggest difference from years past to this season is that the last couple of years I didn't really hunt Minnesota much. If I was coming back to visit family or for the holidays, I'd slip out and hunt, but now it's going to become my main focus. How I adapt and figure out how I'm going to be efficient in my out of state hunting will ultimately decide how this season goes.
Plans: Right now, my immediate plans for the upcoming season include a lot of scouting and shed hunting. Winter has been overstaying it's welcome this year, as we still have feet of snow outside. This has been making it rather difficult for any scouting or shed hunting to take place, but the months of March and April will be critical for me.
Scouting for whitetails is not only important, but it's a lot of fun. Here's 3 things to love about scouting.
During the month of March, I'm going to spend as much time as I can scouting new areas all around me in the home state of Minnesota. I'll be checking out some big woods public land, small parcels in the city, and everything in between. The second weekend of April, I'll be heading back out to North Dakota to spend a couple days shed hunting and scouting as well. That weekend will be critical for me as I'll spend those days in the field pretty much dark to dark. I'll then continue to cover as much ground in Minnesota as well during April. In May, I should be heading down to Nebraska to turkey hunt with my cousin, and we'll be checking out some properties as well as I think I'm going to try and start hunting with him down in Nebraska.
My high level plans when it comes to summer will be back to running as many trail cameras and doing as much glassing as I can. Given the type of terrain and habitat, glassing isn't going to be as much of a player here in Minnesota. I'll have to rely on my trail cameras even more here. For North Dakota, I'll be making a trip out there in early summer to set a bunch of trail cameras. Then later in the summer, probably around the end of July or so, I'll go back out there to check cards and glass. The goal will be to gather as much information as possible as it pertains to what bucks are where. Then in probably mid-August, I'll go back out there to check cams and glass once again, this time trying to actually formulate a plan for early season, as I'll be heading out to North Dakota for sure opening weekend in early September.
You can learn a lot from spending time behind glass. Here's 5 important factors I've learned over the years.
When it comes to my Nebraska hunting, I've kind of got it made there. I'll be more or less relying on information from my cousin while he's out hunting, and running trail cameras for us to help decide when I hunt there. My best guess is I'll be heading down there for an extended weekend in late October/early November before rifle season starts.
Goals: My goals this year are definitely going to change from last year. Last season, I had pretty much one goal, and that was to harvest Kobe. Obviously it didn't work out as I had hoped, and I was crushed.
Don't know the story of Kobe? Read my last Journal Post about him.
What I learned from that experience is that it's extremely difficult to select one deer to hunt when you are hunting public land, and this year it's going to be different. I won't be picky at all in Minnesota. A solid three year old buck that trips my trigger would get an arrow. Simple as that. Even if I have a giant on camera, unless he seems super killable, I won't be passing any solid three year old buck.
In North Dakota, my goal will largely depend on what I have to hunt. I've got a few areas that are rich with mature bucks, and now that I won't be after one specific buck, I think my chances of harvesting a mature buck will be better than they ever have, even though I now will only have a select amount of time to hunt there. I'm hoping with the fact that I will be traveling out there to hunt now, opposed to living there, I'll be more aggressive, which will lead me to better chances of success.
When it comes to Nebraska, my goals will be very similar to Minnesota. I want to shoot a rather mature buck (3 year old or older), and won't be picky. It doesn't have to score a lot or anything like that. I probably won't have much time to hunt there, but want to get the experience.
Final Thoughts: I'm really excited to see what 2018 has in store for me. I know there's going to be a number of challenges as I work through figuring everything out with how I balance my out of state hunting with hunting around home. All I need now is for the snow to start melting so I can get a jump on this season, and get to work!