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Preparation is Key!

By Jake Davis    

 It’s what we dream about every day, all day. It's only the end of January, but yet it feels as if opening9pointerNov8thdark003.jpg weekend in September is going to be here tomorrow.  I have many sleepless nights during the off-season that I find myself thinking about how this season is going to be the best season I have had to date. Imagining going head to head with that big buck or even just a doe, but there is something about it that words cannot explain.  There is something about being strapped to a tree that sends chills down your spine. These are the things all of us think about no matter what we are doing. The problem I had last year is how I anticipated bow season so much, and when it got here I wasn’t even close to being ready.  That really set me back and I am bound and determined to change that this year. I want to go through what I plan on doing to prepare for this years bow season and maybe you can take a thing or two away from this article also.
     I am 19 years old and have been bow hunting for 5 years.  Saying that I am an addict to bowhunting is an understatement. I haven’t been the most successful bowhunter, but my passion and drive for harvesting a big buck is what I love to share.  I enjoy sharing my passion with others, and spending time with friends and family while hunting. I realized this year that hunting is 10 times more fun when you have somebody with you to share in your experiences.  I have only shot two deer in two years, a 6 pointer and a doe, both were with a bow.  My first year of hunting I didn’t know what I was doing and just put a stand up and got lucky and shot a small buck. After that day I was hooked for life and I couldn’t keep my mind off of hunting. I read every book, magazine, and watched every hunting show I could get my hands on.  I did some work to improve for my second season, but as I soon found out that I wasn’t hunting as smart as I should have. Looking back I did a lot of things wrong even in my second year.
     When school got out and that sent off a signal that said, “It’s time to start thinking deer.”  I recently got a Mathews Switchback XT that I have fallen in love with and cannot stop shooting it. I figured that a 3-D target would be a good
choice for me to try and perfect my shooting before September 15.
     The first stage this summer was “Organization.”  I have created a list of all the equipment I need so I can get an idea of the money I am looking at spending. I have also got aerial photos of every property I have permission to hunt and studied them.  I have been trying to keep the pressure to a minimum, but I need to walk them one last time before I hang my stands and make sure nothing has changed. 
One of my favorite things about summer is game cameras. I am a big fan of the new line of Moultrie Cams, and for the price you can’t go wrong. I always have cameras out at any given time. Normally I have them set-up over mineral sites.  The deer really hit those hard during the summer months. I really enjoy gathering tons of pictures and looking through them time and time again. Game cameras are a great tool to be able to watch a buck grow in the summer months, but more importantly year to year. Trail cameras and scouting sessions is what get me through June.
     Summer is my least favorite time of the year to be in the woods, but it is crucial to scout and prep for the upcoming season. I try to stay out as much as possible, to reduce pressure and keep deer on the property.  A wrong decision in July when hanging a stand can cost you a buck in October. I spend many hours thinking about stand placement in my down time and it drives me nuts. “This tree or that tree,” “How high should I get,” questions like that fly through my head at this time of year.  If I have to get 23 feet up to be concealed I will, but if I can be concealed at 18 feet I will settle for that also.  There are too many factors to list that play a role in stand placement.  When it is time for me to hang my stands I try to put everything together. I focus on placing my stand where I think is the best possible position where I believe a big buck will be moving in that area. Whether it is a travel route, feeding area, or any other area, each situation calls for a different set up. 
     After the stand is up cutting shooting lanes is important.  Being concealed is a big thing for me also. I like to find a big
oak or maple tree, and get where I don’t stick out.  I have learned that to find a great spot doesn’t mean anything if you find can’t find a good tree to go along with it. 
     The end of July also marks the time when I start glassing fields. Here in Wisconsin there is a lot of corn and soybeans.  The deer love to be in them for about an hour before dark or so.   I will drive around and glass fields, and just watch the deer from the road. You can’t beat the feeling of seeing a nice bachelor group at the end of July and hoping they will stick around your area until the rut.
     By this time it is hard to get yourself to shoot your bow because you just step outside and are already sweating jake_pic_6_bow.jpg
because of the heat, but it has to be done.  Repetition is the key to shooting, keep your form up and tighten your groups. In the middle of the summer backing the target up to about 50 yards is great practice. If you can be somewhat consistent at 50 yards that will make the 20 yard shots seem a lot easier.
     August 1st gets here and it is the time of year when all the other kids are getting ready for football two-a-days to start, but for me I still have a month and a half until my season starts.  At the end of July I put my cameras out and leave them for about 3 weeks just to make sure I don’t spook deer off of the property. I try to keep the deer in the dark about what is coming September 15th. When I do check my camera I go in the middle of the day when it is about 95 degrees. Most of the deer are in the bedding areas, but I always spray down, even in the summer.  My time in August is predominantly spent watching from a distance and knowing that bow season is getting closer, but it can’t get here fast enough.
     September means school starts but you know that soon enough you will be sitting around a campfire on the Friday night before opening day with your friends at deer camp. You are wishing the morning were here and you can just sit, listen, and hear nothing.  Until you hear leaves crunching to your right. This could be your moment of truth, you make it happen.  This is what we have waited for, and it was so worth the wait.