By Alex Comstock
With a majority of the states throughout the Midwest wrapping up with deer season, this next month or so of the year is often considered the dead period when it comes to whitetails. There's a bit of a break between during the middle of winter, with most folks eagerly waiting for snow to melt, and to get back outside shed hunting, scouting, shooting bows, etc. What can you do during this time frame to ultimately help your future success? Don't worry, there's plenty!
Maps: Something that I am doing close to daily right now is analyzing maps. I feel like I live on Google Earth this time of the year. There are a couple different important things you can be doing when scouring maps. It is easy for people to become complacent with their hunting properties, and do the same thing each and every year. Now is a good time to analyze where you already hunt, and look for things that you can do to strengthen your hunting opportunities. Whether that means trying to locate new stand areas, different entry and exit routes, or even areas to leave alone as a sanctuary, these can pay big dividends for next year. Another thing I am doing is looking at maps of new areas, and trying to find new hunting ground. I am constantly searching for new places to hunt, and this is a great time to find them. I make a list of areas to check out after finding them on the map, and then once I start getting out in the spring to do my boots on the ground work, I will swing by the areas I picked out, and if I like what I see, I will try and get permission if it's private, or I will get right to scouting if it's public land.
Plan For the Future: Not only is winter a time for reflection, but it's also a time to look forward to another season that's on the horizon. This is a great time to plan for next year when it comes to things such as where you will be hunting if you are going to try an out of state hunt, or any type of trip. For me, right now I am planning what states I'm going to hunt. I like to have three options every year, which means I will travel to two states outside of my home area to hunt. If you are going to be planning any type of trip, now is the time to get the logistics squared away, figure out how much you will need to budget, if you have to put in points for a lottery draw, etc. etc. No need to cram later in the year, now is the time to get this stuff done.
Read: I often find myself so busy throughout the summer and fall that I don't get the time I'd like to sit back and read books/magazines. Reading material has played a big role in my hunting knowledge, and there is an abundance of information out there to soak up about everything to do with whitetails, and hunting them. There is never a better time to curl up in bed with a stack of magazines or a book than during the cold, dark days of winter.
Winter Scouting: Scouting this time of the year can vary from state to state depending on what your winters are like. This is a good time of the year to get out there and locate travel areas, bedding areas, and feeding areas, especially if you've got some snow on the ground because it makes all of those that much easier to identify. This time of the year, I'm scouting those, and trying to locate where deer are wintering, not only thinking about next hunting season, but also for shed hunting.
Earn Some Brownie Points: One thing that often gets overlooked is our significant others that allow us to hunt as much as we do. It's important to recognize this, and there is no better time than right now to get some of those brownie points back. Whether that means doing something your significant other likes to do with them, or just staying home and cleaning or doing the dishes, while he/she goes and hangs out with their friends, this is when I come back to planet earth as one might say, and realize that I can't do something deer hunting related every single second of every day. The more brownie points you can earn now, the more time you might get during the hunting season.
I am already eagerly awaiting all of the work that goes into my offseason regimen. For most of us, the real work happens outside of the actual deer season, and it's time to get cranking on it. If you are looking for something to do, these five things ought to help!