Pre-Season Preparation Makes for Great Hunting Later

Sure it's hot, humid and miserable. But at night if you catch a breeze on your cheeks, you can almost feel fall in the distance.

Yes, it may not seem like it now, but soon you'll be perched on a platform overlooking your favorite deer trails with a cool breeze on your face and a bow in your hands. Or, you might be sitting in a hunting blind watching a food plot in the fading evening light, fingering the safety on your favorite rifle.

Regardless of where you'll be or the weapon in your hands, there are things you can do now to up your odds then. Here are some suggestions:

  • Create trails. Deer will take the path of least resistance, and now's the time to get out and create those paths, or block off trails that don't lead to your tree stand.
  • Prep food plots. Killing all of the vegetation makes plowing far easier. With most hunters putting in food plots in August or September, now's a good time to spray weed killer on those spots in preparation for the plow.
  • Put up new hunting stands. Whether you're putting up a new tree stand or moving an existing one, summer is a good time to get things settled. Be sure to clear shooting lanes.
  • Practice. Whether you shoot a bow or a gun, knowing your weapon is instrumental to success. Practice from a variety of shooting positions.  If you enjoy bow hunting, make sure to practice from a sitting position, even if you always try to stand before shooting.
  • Put in a mineral lick. Yes, it's a little late, but better late than never. With a few summertime thunderstorms the minerals will wash into the dirt.
  • Check your herd. If you've never experimented with a game camera, now's a good time to begin. You'll be amazed to see deer you had no idea were living their whole lives right under your nose. And what a great way to get pumped for the season!
  • Kill a coyote. Unless you live in an area where feral hogs are fair game year-round, coyotes are about the only game going. But what a game they can be. Use your deer hunting weapon, pick up a mouth-blown call and head out to the woods. Need more motivation? Some studies show that every adult coyote kills two fawns each year.
  • Reassess your hunting land. Go to an aerial photo website such as or Google Earth and download an image of your hunting land. One exercise is to look at it as if you'd never seen it before and see if anything new jumps out at you.
  • Fertilize the natural browse. Many hunters are on the food plot train and spend far too much money without thinking about the natural browse your deer herd normally eats. If you're on a tight budget, or simply want to go a step beyond food plots, fertilizing the natural browse may be your best bet.
  • Talk to your neighbors. Summer is the best time to become familiar with the landowners on every side of your hunting area. Make plans should you need to cross fences to retrieve wounded game. Inquire about their season and what their plans are for this year, etc.
  • Repair box blinds. The last thing you want to be doing a week prior to the season is installing new steps on your hunting blind. Check for rotting wood or structural problems during the summer.
  • Supplement your herd's nutrition. Add a feeder to your hunting land even if you need to remove it prior to hunting season (check regulations). Mix corn and soybeans 3 to 1 to provide supplemental nutrition (deer are reluctant to eat soybeans by themselves, thus it helps to mix them with corn).
  • Be prepared. If you're planning on doing any work in the woods this summer there are preparations you should make. Be sure to take and apply plenty of bug spray to keep ticks and chiggers at bay. Also, take along plenty of water and, just like hunting, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return.