Hunter looking at an aerial hunting map

10 Essential Early Season Deer Hunting Tips

Legendary Whitetails 9.19.2016

Whether it’s meeting a person for the first time, going in for a job interview, or hunting deer, making a good first impression is important. It can be pretty hard to do, too, at least in the first two cases. If you’re looking to make a good first impression in the woods this deer season, here are a few things to keep in mind – 10 of best early season deer hunting tips.

1 – Know the Land

This is, perhaps, the most important thing to consider when anticipating those early hunting months, and it all really just boils down to common sense (as do a lot of these tips, I’ll admit). Know where you’ll be doing your hunting! Research your hunting grounds, take a look at maps and photos, and see how well other hunters have taken to the place. Google has excellent maps on most hunting grounds that one can use to plot out their trip.

Also, visit the place yourself! While looking at aerial photos is nice, it doesn’t beat the experience of actually being there yourself. Plan a month or two before the beginning of the season, and scout. Start planning out where to position your trail cameras and treestands, even if you haven’t bought any yet. Know the lay of the land!

2 – Hunt Near Water

The early deer hunting seasons get to be really hot during the daytime, and deer need to drink just as much as you or me. Try to set a few cameras around a watering hole or stream, somewhere where you know deer will visit to get a drink. Also keep an eye out for freshly-made deer tracks around these water sources, as these will often tip you off on whether or not deer visit these sites and if there’s a big one around.

Big buck drinking out of a homemade water hole A nice buck drinks from an old sandbox converted into a water hole for deer.

RELATED: DIY Water Holes that Work!

3 – Know Where They Sleep

Bucks tend to bed down near or on the edge of food sources early in the season because cover is everywhere.  This can sometimes make it difficult to squeeze in between them and the food for an early season hunt.  Hunt cautiously until the leaves fall off and their bedding areas are more predictable.  Remember, having a good first impression will have a lasting impact.

4 – Go For Afternoon Strolls

Here’s one for you still hunters.  As stated before, it gets really hot during the early season. It’s usually hot enough to dissuade most other people from going out, and it’s hot enough to tire out even the most energetic of bucks. Which means this is the perfect time of day for intrepid, determined hunters with a keen eye to take advantage of the situation. Deer are often tired during the middle of the afternoon, hunting them at their most lethargic state will help you stalk in close.

5 – Cover Your Scent

It’s not enough to simply know where deer go during the day, and how they behave during the early season. If you smell like a human, you’re bound to scare them off before you can line them up in your sights! Always remember to wash yourself and your equipment with scentless soap. There are also scent-nullifying sprays you can buy from most outdoors and sporting outlets. You can also use charcoal to absorb your sweat and scent!

RELATED: 8 Steps to Complete Scent Control

6 – Acorn-er Them

During the early hunting months, acorns are sure to be everywhere in much of the U.S., and deer LOVE acorns. Use this to your advantage! Scout for trees that are plentiful with acorns and strong in musk. Carefully set yourself up around these areas to try to catch your buck while he’s feeding. Ideally, you want to pick out some of the most fruitful acorn producing trees before the early season, when you’re still setting up. Position your cameras around fruitful acorn trees to see what’s moving during daylight.

Hunter with a handful of acornsScouting for acorns is an excellent way to determine where you should hunt.

7 – Consider Wind Direction

This is just another way of minimizing your own presence when hunting, and its good advice for any time you’re in the woods. Basically, you’re going to want to know where the wind is blowing. You’ll want the wind in your face as much as possible, but the right crosswind can work as well, as long as you understand where it’s blowing your scent. When in doubt, always work towards the source of wind.

8 – Look for Rub Lines

Rub lines are visible indicators on trees that bucks use to communicate.  There are many hidden signs within a rub that a deer hunter can use to their advantage.  Direction of travel, time of day, and the size of a buck are just a few.  Read Finding and Analyzing Rub Lines to learn how to scout and hunt rubs.

9 – Hunt Inside Field Edges

Many novice hunters make the mistake of hunting deer over agricultural fields. Sure, you can see a lot of deer, but it’s often tough to get them in bow range unless it’s a smaller field or cove.  Hunt the field edges during observation sits and move in when you know exactly where they are entering or exiting the field.  Dipping into the woods a bit will give you a better chance at spotting that big buck moving during daylight.

RELATED: Mapping Whitetails – Hunting The Inside Corners

10 – Food Plotting

Sweeten your odds even further by planting a few food plots of your own. Planting kill plots between bedding and a destination food source (ag field) is a good way to draw bucks in close during daylight hours.  Deer will likely stage up in these spots before making their way to larger fields as the sun sinks below the horizon.

RELATED: What to Plant in Small Food Plots

Final Thoughts

And there you have our 10 essential early season deer hunting tips! Just keep in mind how deer act during this time of the season, and try to plan your movements and actions accordingly. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be able to take on the early season months with ease.


Written by: Harold Weaver

A seasoned freelance writer who loves sharing his hunting experiences. Harold is always looking for new opportunities to spread his passion for the hunt.


Legendary Whitetails | Everyday apparel for the hunter

Log in to your account.