By Alex Comstock
It's June, and you know what that means, it's summer! Every year it's a thrill for me seeing bits of green in crop fields, knowing that I will be glassing bean fields in the coming months, and getting that itch to see what bucks are back, and what new ones show up. I can't wait for fall to be here, but at the same time, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the summer months. I'm going to go over at a high level on how I attack summer, and the months leading up to archery season.
During the summer, I run trail cameras extensively. I have them all over the place, monitoring my mineral sites, and getting an inventory of my bucks. Trail cameras are my most important tool. I use them to decide what areas to focus my efforts on, as I hunt many different parcels. I have most of my cameras over mineral sites, as I stated earlier, but I will run some on corners of ag fields if I know an area of a field that deer are frequenting. A tool that I like as well is to use the time lapse mode if your camera has the capability.
If you read my article Trail Cameras, Help or Hindrance? , you will know that I stress paying attention to detail when it comes to trail cameras. I only check mine once a month during the summer (more frequently the weeks prior to opening weekend) and always am careful about scent and wind.
When it comes to trail cameras in the summer, I am planning for two things. One is planning for the first week of season. Two of the states that I hunt include Nebraska and North Dakota, which both open the first week of September. Knowing a buck's pattern, or at least where he lives is crucial, because I believe the first week of September is the best time of year to shoot a mature buck. I will go into this more later when I talk about glassing.
The second thing I am planning for is the rut. Even though it may seem a little premature, bucks don't stray as far you might believe during the rut. They make take an excursion or two, but for the most part, they stick in their core area based on what I have seen. If I can pin down a bucks summer home range, and then find him again once he is living out his fall pattern, I can use this information to help plan how I will hunt him during the rut.
Glassing From a Distance
Glassing has quickly become a great tool for my success. Glassing for me is most effective when it goes hand in hand with my trail cameras. Getting pictures of a buck you want to shoot is the first step. If you have your trail camera on the edge of food source, or nearby, the next progression is figuring out how that buck really uses a given area. I like to sit at a comfortable distance where you know you won't spook any deer. At some areas, I will glass from my vehicle, and other instances, I will sit on the edge of a bean field, or a row or two back in a cornfield and watch where I think a buck will be feeding at. If you can lay eyes on him, and see exactly how he is entering the field, there is a quality chance you can get on him in early September. Deer are habitual creatures, especially in the summer, and they tend to do the same thing nearly day after day.
A quick note on something that I have noticed before, and is actually how I killed my early season buck last year, is that a buck may not enter the field from the same spot every night. You may glass him one night entering a field on one trail, and then glass him again another day, and he enters the field on a completely different trail. Instead of playing guessing games, and picking one to sit near by, watch them closely as long as you can. I've tended to notice, certain deer always end up in certain areas of the field. That buck may enter from two, three, or even four different trails, but odds are, he works his way to the same area of the field nightly for whatever reason. Long story short, you can learn a lot about a buck from glassing, and if you hunt in an area that you can, I highly suggest taking advantage of it.
Shoot Your Bow (A Lot)
For most people, they shoot their bow some in the summer, and then once season arrives, the shooting comes to a halt. It's easy to do, we have jobs, live busy lives, and at night just want to relax. What has helped me, is that shooting my bow has become more than just something to do so I know I can hit a deer. I love shooting my bow, and obsess over it. Shooting enough to create that muscle memory is key, so when season comes around, you don't have to think twice about a shot. I went into detail on how you can improve your archery skills in this article, as there is many ways to do it. What I find most important is to shoot your bow as much as you can, and once season rolls in, don't stop.
These are a few of the major things that I like to accomplish during summer. In the next few months, the outlook for fall starts to crystallize and give you an idea on what to look forward to. Get ready, because we all know how fast fall comes up on us, and we will be sitting in a treestand before you know it.