Bowhunters in general dream all year long about the opening day of bow season. Visions of giant bucks stepping into a shooting lane is synonymous with being called a bowhunter. Dreams don't just come true by magic; however, dreams are made. Basic preparations, prior to the opener, can go a long way towards making your big buck dreams come true.
1. Get Organized
Bowhunters, like any other group of hunters, allow their gear to become disorganized during the off season. Small hunting items such as releases, calls and rattling horns have a way of getting separated from the lot. Setting aside an area in a mud room, garage or closet to store all of your archery gear together is great insurance towards being ready for the next season. Ideally, hunters should check bow gear by the middle of the summer to get ready for the fall season. Waiting until a few weeks before the opener is shaky strategy. It may take weeks to order in new pieces of equipment that have been lost or misplaced. R&R — replace and repair — are key words to remember about organizing your gear.
2. Scout, Scout, Scout
Every bowhunter knows they should scout well ahead of time. But not everyone does it. If you are going to hunt public land, scouting early and scouting often will put you ahead of the crowd. Excuses about there being too much going on, the bugs are bad, it's too hot, etc. will haunt you after long hours on the stand with no success. Most people don't think about hunting during the late summer because they are busy getting kids ready for school, going on vacations and attending ball games and other functions. Dedicate yourself to slipping in regular short scouting trips, and your advantage over those who do not will multiply exponentially. You will need to locate deer, discover their travel patterns and watch behavior changes as young are raised. You will become familiar with terrain features such as pinch points, bottlenecks, travel lanes, ridge saddles and key food sources such as persimmons or stands of producing white oak trees.
3. Choose You Spots, Clear Shooting Lanes
As the days approach the rut, deer behavior changes dramatically. It is time to home in on the spot where you will hang your stand. It is wise to have several spots in mind and plotted on your topo map or GPS. At some point in time it will happen. Someone else will beat you to hanging a stand in a chosen spot. Go to plan B. The old belief that public land hunters seldom walk over 200 yards from their vehicles is no longer true. Bowhunters are better equipped and in better shape than ever. They will walk long distances to have a chance at a bruiser buck. Competition is not your worst enemy, however. One of the most common mistakes made in bowhunting is failure to properly evaluate shooting lanes. After hanging your stand, check in all directions for possible shooting scenarios. Trim sparingly, but open lanes for quality shots.
4. Shoot, Shoot, Shoot
When the moment comes, placing an arrow accurately is the culmination of months of preparation. All preparations are support actions leading to an accurate shot when it counts. Three-day-a-week sessions are good months before the opener. Daily shooting vigils are paramount to confidence and accuracy the last 30 days prior to that opportunity to arrow the buck of a lifetime.