Deer Hunting Success: It Begins With Preseason Preparation

Travis DormanContributor IAugust 24, 2010

Trail cameras can help formulate your hunting strategy.
Trail cameras can help formulate your hunting strategy.

For hunters, there is just something about this time of year.  We’re all ready for the temperatures to drop, the days to get a little shorter, and those first hours in a tree stand. 

I’ve been reading, and re-reading hunting magazines, setting the DVR for all my favorite hunting shows, and laying awake at night thinking through my preseason checklists and priorities as I prepare for the upcoming season.  Now it is time to put some of this reading, watching, thinking, and dreaming into action. 

Here are a few items to help you with your preseason preparations.


Property Management

Hopefully, you’ve been able to spend some time outdoors, and in your hunting area during the off season.  If not, now is the time to get back out there.  This is a great time to get some scouting in, and place your game cameras if they haven’t been deployed all year.  Keep in mind that the deer on your property are still in their summer routines and travel patterns; so there is no need for alarm if you’re not seeing activity in your mid-rut hot spot. 

In the scouting vein, this is also a great time to execute a herd survey with your game cameras.  You can find complete instructions by watching the W.I.S.E. instructional video, Step 5—Herd Monitoring.  Download W.I.S.E. from and follow the video tutorial. 

A little work here can give you an accurate idea of what animals are on your property, and help you formulate your harvest strategy for the coming season. 

This is also a good time to make final preparations to your food plots (I live and hunt in Virginia, so obviously time lines will vary geographically).  Many folks may have planted in the Spring, but you can fill in thin spots or plant plot perimeters with a Fall-specific seed blend to add some variety. 

Be sure to follow planting instructions, and give the seed time to germinate before it gets too cold.   

Since you will be spending some time on your hunting property, go ahead and inspect your tree stands, steps, ladders, and harnesses.  Depending on their condition at the end of last season and your storage arrangement, the equipment may require repair or replacement. 

You are much better off discovering problems now (in the preseason and while you have both feet on the ground) rather than later.  If everything checks out and you use some hang-on style stands, go ahead and get a few placed in your “old standby” locations. 

Getting those stands in a tree will put you ahead of the game, and allow the area to cool off from the activity associated with getting the stand in position (noise, scent, lane cutting, etc.).  Having these stands set up in proven locations will give you a good starting point for early season hunts.


Equipment and Technique

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