In many states, bow hunting season starts in August and goes all the way through the rest of the year. That gives a bowhunter a lot of time to hunt, but there are also lots of species that he may choose to pursue as well. Of all time throughout the late summer, fall, and early winter, early season bow hunting can be some of the most productive, as well as comfortable. Here we will discuss some early season bow hunting tips.
Whether you are bow hunting early season whitetail, mule deer, blacktail, or elk, the early season gives you a good advantage over other seasons throughout the year.
We're an affiliate
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
- You are the hunting first pressure these animals will see for the year.
- You will have all summer to scout and pattern the animals.
- You will be competing with only other early season bow hunters so you won’t have any long-range competition.
- A lot of people associate bow hunting with cold fall days and don’t even bother with the early season, meaning less competition overall.
Below is a list of early season bow hunting tips and tactics that will help you be more success full.
One of the main benefits you will have as an early-season bowhunter is the fact that you will have plenty of time to pattern the bucks, which should keep that pattern well into September. If you can figure out when and where they go daily, then you can intercept them by putting up some type of stand, either a tree stands or ground blind, and then wait for them to come by.
When scouting for early season bow hunting, there are several useful methods to use.
- Morning and evening outings to a point where you can view deer hotspots without disturbing them is a great way to see what is on your early season bow hunting area and will give you useful tips and clues as to when and where the deer are going, and the paths they are taking to get there.
- Trail cameras are a beneficial tool to both tell you what type of animals will be there for your early bow hunting season and give you tips on where to set your stand up.
- If you are planning on a spot and stalk deer hunt, then scouting is necessary as you need to know where the biggest bucks are hanging out. That way, when the early bow hunting season comes, you will know where to look so you can have multiple stalk opportunities throughout the early season, which may lead to success. One early season bow hunting tip for spot and stalk hunters is to have several shooter bucks located, because it may take several blown stalks before you are successful. The average is about a 1/6 success ratio.
- Buck is usually more confident during the summer and early bow hunting season and not near as nocturnal. A quick buck that only moves at night during the fall will usually stay out in daylight for the first hour or two in the mornings and come out an hour before dark. This will help in your scouting efforts and should give you some early season bow hunting confidence.
Throughout the summer season, deer and elk are mainly focused on feeding. They are not worried about male dominance or breeding does. This means deer will have set paths they are taking to and from their bedding, feeding, and watering areas. All three areas are equally important and can be utilized for success during early season bow hunting.
A stand can be placed to take advantage of any of these three target areas. While placing the stand directly at water or feeding area can be very effective, one early season bow hunting tip is to not put a stand at a bedding area, but rather on the main trail to and from the bedding area. The last thing you want to do is disrupt a buck’s bedding area regardless of what season it is as this could drastically change the buck’s pattern or make him leave the area to another spot he feels more secure.
Spot and Stalk Hunting
Another method that can be very effective for early season bow hunting is spot and stalk. Though this is a preferred method typically used for mule deer, it can also be used successfully for whitetail and elk.
During the early bow hunting season, deer will occasionally bed down in the open where they are visible from far away. Even big, mature whitetail will do this, and they happen to be the easiest to spot. Standing crops and CRP (tall grass) is a great place to look as the deer will bed down right in them due to the fact it keeps them nice and cool.
An early season bow hunting tip is to glass these areas and look for a rack protruding out of the vegetation. Once found, this creates an ideal situation to put on a spot and stalk if the conditions are right. In this case, the wind is your best friend. If you play it right, the wind will carry your scent away from the deer and will also cover up any noise you make. It is best to approach the deer from behind, but sometimes they are facing the wrong direction. The main thing is to keep the wind blowing your scent away from the deer. It is possible to approach the deer head-on if this is your only option but will require a lot of belly crawling.
Once you get to within range of your target buck, it is best to wait until the deer stands up on its own. Then you will be able to take a shot with your bow on a relaxed deer. If the wind begins to swirl and you are scared you may get winded soon, then it may be necessary to coax the deer to his feet. You can do this be making grunt sounds, or if there is a rock around, you can throw it to get the deer focused on a different location other than your own.
Another good scenario for early season bow hunting, especially with mule deer, is when a buck beds down below a cliff in the shade. In this case, it is possible to sneak right over the top of the buck without them ever knowing you are there. Again, it is best to be patient and wait for them to stand on their own, but aggressive action may be taken if the situation warrants it.
An early season bow hunting tip for spot and stalk hunting is to wait to the stock until the conditions are right. This means usually waiting for the wind to pick up and get steady or change direction altogether. Light winds do not do much to cover up noise, and they typically blow in variable directions. As the day warms up, the wind will typically increase. That is why it is best to just watch the deer and wait for conditions to improve
One benefit of early season bow hunting is the mild temperatures. The downfall is it can get hot. Even when temperatures are normal, in the early season, it is straightforward to sweat, and sweat stinks more to the nose of a deer or elk.
There are ways to minimize your scent even in warm temperatures, which brings us to another early season bow hunting tip. Bowhunting means getting close to your prey undetected. Because you cannot stop your body from perspiring, it is extremely beneficial to wear scent prevention clothing. Of course, most scent prevention clothing is hot due to the nature of the clothing. Lucky for us early season bow hunter, there is some scent prevention gear for warm weather. We will talk more about it in the following section about equipment.
If you elect not to purchase early season bow hunting clothing, you at least need to have a camo that blends you into the surroundings, which we talk more about next as well. But even more important than camo is the fact that you need to play the wind regardless of the gear you wear. As long as you keep your scent blowing away from the animal, you will be fine. One scent molecule reaches their nose, though, and the deer will typically go from lying down to up and running before you can even drawback. The scent has undoubtedly spoiled more stalks and stands than any other factor.
Early Season Bow Hunting Equipment
Because early season bow hunting tactics are different than the rest of the year, there are several items that you will need that you may not have for other bowhunting seasons. Below you will find a list of items you will want to make sure to have to better your chances at a successful earl season bow hunt.
- Binoculars: Scouting, Stand hunting, and Spot and stalk hunting requires you to find the deer. It is amazing how many more deer you can find with the use of binoculars that you would not see otherwise. They also are essential in the stalk as you need to find the deer before they find you, which means using your binoculars to pick out the tip of a horn or the flick of a tail. Of course, binoculars are needed throughout the year, and one of the most important pieces of equipment a hunter of any type can use.
- Rangefinder: Knowing the exact distance to your target is a huge benefit, especially when shooting long distances or bow hunting. There are specific specs that you will want in a rangefinder, such as an angle compensation. You will be shown where you can get a rangefinder with all you need on it later in this article.
- Spotting Scope: Both used for spotting deer and then being able to judge them to make sure they are worthy of a stalk. Spotting scopes are also essential to find other deer and anything else that can compromise your stalk that is in your intended path. It is straightforward to get busted. A spotting scope is a must-have for all hunting seasons.
- Camouflage: With deer vision, it is not as essential to be the same color as the background, but more so to break up your figure. Plus, in typical spot and stalk habitat, the foliage can be dry and yellow in grasses, or green in trees and shrubs. Therefore it is vital to have a very versatile camo pattern. We will discuss the best brands later in the article.
- Scent Control Camo: If you are early season bow hunting, then you will want a camo outfit that offers scent control, but is also lightweight and breathable, so you do not get hot and sweat, making you scent worse off than if you were to be hunting naked. For this reason, I suggest a scent control that made for warm temperatures. We will talk more about this at the end of the article.
- Boots: When stalking deer, it is vital to be as quiet as possible. I have taken my shoes off and stalked in my sock successfully before, but with cacti and thistle prevalent where I hunt, this is just not doable. Therefore I wear lightweight boots made for stalking to close the final distance to within bow range. They have saved my feet and helped me to be much stealthier.
- For all other gear needed to take down big game, be sure to check the menu on the right-hand side of this page. The above list of gear is just the basics that will help you to become a successful spot and stalk deer hunter. Only after you spot and stalk deer hunt a few times will you know exactly what works best for you.
The Best Early Season Bow Hunting Tip:
When you are early season bow hunting, in many cases, you are out there hunting before most hunters have even bought their tags. That is why the best early season bow hunting tip and tactic I can give you is to just get out there and do it. Aside from the fact that I think this is the best time of year to be out there to score on a big buck or bull, I am usually ready to just get out of town and see some big antlers.