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Early Season Success

North Dakota offers the deer hunter the opportunity to get out in the woods a bit earlier than most other states. Some years there is even a chance at getting a buck in full velvet. I’ve been lucky enough to put a tag on several opening weekend deer in North Dakota over the years. I can attribute my success to knowing the early season food sources, trail cameras, being bug & scent free.

I’ve hunted in temperatures as high as 95° where scent control is a must. I prepare by washing clothes and towels in scent free detergent and hanging clothes outside. Before every hunt, I shower with scent killing shampoo and soap. I wear rubber boots so no scent will be left on the ground or low growing vegetation. I spray down with scent eliminator at the vehicle before getting dressed. I will walk to the stand with minimal clothes and get dressed at the stand. Then, I spray down at the stand and several times on the stand throughout the day. I carry scent free wipes in my backpack if needed. I use earth scented wafers in several locations on my clothing to help cover scent. I also wear Scent Lok clothing. Some do not believe it works, but I feel it gives me the added confidence of being scent free. Another thing to remember is your breath. I chew the apple flavored Gum O Flage gum. It really tastes good too.

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A Thermacell has been a lifesaver for the bugs. It’s hard to believe I ever hunted without one. It is a MUST Have for early season hunting!

Trail cameras have shown which bucks are around and what times they are traveling through an area. I find myself studying pictures everyday. Not only new ones, but comparing a buck from one year to the next. Also, cameras indicate when particular bucks will travel through a certain area from one year to the next--this is extremely helpful. The family and I will sit and 'oooh' and 'aaah' at the pictures. Word of caution--trail cameras are very addicting and you will find yourself wanting more.

The early season food sources in my area consist of wheat, edible beans, soybeans and of course acorns. Wheat is always first on their diet but once the combines start rolling, you better be on a different food source like right now or you’re going to be missing out on the action. The bean fields usually are the next food source but once they start dying down they just aren’t as appealing to deer. Acorns are of course the big draw in the river bottoms. The deer just seem to have a knack for finding the acorns as soon as they start dropping. It’s actually pretty cool to see how they will paw the ground to the bare dirt looking for the last of them. Once the re-growth from the combined wheat fields starts coming up that is another major draw. Mix in some turnips or other brassicas and you will have a nice little honey hole the rest of the Fall.

A couple other things I do is keep my truck as scent free as possible, store all my hunting clothes in a scent free container and do as much glassing and driving the roads in the evenings to find which fields the deer are hitting the most.

May your Chase for whitetails this Fall be safe and always remember to have fun!