Early Season Success

By Bob Robb

I have long been an advocate of early season deer hunting, which I define as anything prior to the pre-rut that begins midway through October in most areas.

For decades now, I have shot some really nice bucks when most people think it isn’t worth going. To summarize my strategy, it’s all about scouting to find food sources and water, and hunting in a way that you are not picked off.

On day three of my September hunt with Ralph Dampman, I tweaked my stand set-up by moving it to give me a better angle to cover the small water hole. Nearby, oaks were just starting to aggressively drop acorns and a quarter mile away was an alfalfa field. The deer were bedding in deep, cool draws before cruising past the waterhole to suck up acorns and get a drink before heading to the field to feed after dark. That morning, Ralph showed me a trail cam photo of a nice buck standing 20 yards from the tree I was sitting in. Of course, in this part of Wyoming the whitetails are thick as fleas on a dog’s back and so far I’d seen a lot of deer, but one could only hope.

It was 3:00 p.m. when Corbin and I got the stand moved and I climbed aboard. It was also 85 degrees. I figured I would not see a deer until just before dark, but hope springs eternal in a buck hunter’s heart, right?

At 4:10 p.m., I heard a rock clack to my left. Suddenly, the buck Ralph had a picture of was standing just a little ways away. He trotted to the water, waded into the tank and started drinking. I cautiously grabbed the bow, hooked up my release, drew, put the 20-yard pin behind the shoulder and took the shot. The deer ran about 100 yards before piling up under a small stand of oaks.

It was 85 degrees and a full month before bucks would begin chasing does. That 3 ½-year old 10-pointer taped out at a gross 143 Pope & Young points. I love early season hunting, and if you do it right, you will, too.

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