It's that time of year again here in Maryland. The whitetail deer bow hunting season will commence on 15 September. I have always had a goal of bagging a monster buck in velvet. It hasn't happened for me yet but every year I continue to pursue big nasty in velvet.
Most of the time I end up shooting does and scouting for bucks that show up later in the season. This year I’m going to change some things by focusing on pursuing big bucks in velvet and leaving the does alone until later in the season. I’ve learned over the years locating does in the early season is almost as important as locating bucks. I found out where not to hunt based on the limited interaction between bucks and does in the early season.
Although the early season isn't my favorite time of year to hunt, I end up packing my therma cell and hitting the woods every year. Each year I learn a little more about whitetails and their early season activities. I am fascinated with hunting while the bachelor groups are still together. Some people swear by the concept that the youngest bucks enter the fields first and are followed by older and more mature buck during the timeframe. However I haven't found this to be true in every case but do think this occurs more often than not.
I have found that seeing a lot of bucks in the early season isn't necessarily the challenge but getting into bow range of a mature buck can be. There's nothing like getting out there when the hunting pressure is minimal or non-existent.
One of the most enjoyable parts of hunting the early season is adapting to the food sources as the year unfolds, starting with different type of berries and field crops until the acorns start falling and onto the browsing food sources later in the year. Pattering deer during early season is more than doable than any other part of the hunting season. I change from long distance scouting techniques I use throughout the summer to more up close and personal techniques.
One of the most overlooked areas to hunt in the early season is near to or around water. I can't tell you how many times I’ve set up and seen 10-15 deer at a setting within 10 yards of my stand. None so far have been the monster in velvet I’ve been looking for.
This year I’m going to try some things I’ve learned over the off season that I never tried in the past or even thought of. Rattling and calling in the early season. Based on articles I’ve read and shows I’ve watched it seems to be worth a shot. The approach to rattling and calling in the early season is a softer tickle of the tines and calling at lower volumes. I’ll let everyone know how it works out for me this year.