5 Things You Could Be Doing To Prepare For Deer Hunting Season

Deer Hunting Preparation Off Season

courtesy oxhuntingranch.com

By Jonny Mac

With all the downtime in between hunting seasons, you’re probably itching to get back in the game. Luckily, there are plenty of preseason tasks that you can attend to in order to ensure your success this upcoming season. Whether you are new to the deer hunting game or returning for another year of fun, there are a few tasks that every hunter should make a priority. Here are five things you can do with your spare time to prepare yourself for the new season:

  1. Ready Your Equipment
    There is a good bit of equipment necessary for a successful hunting season, and even more equipment available than you could imagine that can make your season a great one. Whether you are using last year’s equipment or buying all new gear for this deer hunting season, you should ensure that it’s all in good condition and ready to use well before the season starts. This could include checking and patching your clothing, rain gear, boots, deer calls, weapons, homemade deer cart and more. It’s better to know what you have (and what you need) well in advance, since some of this equipment can be rather pricey. Some other equipment to look into includes trail cameras, deer feed, gun oils, safety wear, and an equipment bag to carry it all.
  2. Sight in Your Weapons
    This is one of the most important (and also one of the most enjoyable) preseason tasks. You’ll need to ensure that all of your weapons (whether you are bow hunting or using a rifle) are sighted in. Note that this is important even if you used all of the same equipment last year since the sight adjustments can change while the gun is stored or handled. If you got a new scope or new sights for your weapon, it’s doubly necessary. Plus, sighting in your weapons will give you some time to practice shooting and knock the dust and the rust off before the season starts. If you haven’t properly cleaned your weapon since last season, you’ll want to give it a good scrub down as well.
  3. Familiarize Yourself with Local Game Laws
    If you don’t want to risk losing your hunting license (or getting a pretty significant fine), it’s essential that you check all the local game laws for your chosen hunting state each year. They’re subject to change (and there seem to be new regulations every season) so call your local Game and Fish Commission or check online to get up-to-date with the coming season’s laws. Generally everything will line up pretty closely to the year before, but fines and penalties can be hefty. Don’t risk it.
  4. Do a Pre-Season Scout of Your Hunting Area
    Whether you hunt on private or public land, it’s a good idea to do a preseason scout of the area you intend to hunt on. Of course, you’ll need to check to see if the area allows you early access. If so, it’s well worth your time. This could include setting out feed and trail cams, which can help you get an accurate idea of the quantity and size of game in the area. That may also include setting up your deer stand in advance (if local regulations allow), scouting out the area to see how far in your vehicle will take you, where you can drive an ATV, and what areas you’ll need to walk. You should check that you know and understand the land’s boundaries so that you don’t accidentally hunt outside the legal hunting grounds. If you’re hunting on private land, there may be regulations specific that are more in-depth than the local game laws. Of course, local game laws still apply, but you should check with the owner all the same.
  5. Make a Plan for Processing Kills
    Another important preseason task is deciding how you’ll handle your kills. You have several options, but having a plan in place will ensure that you aren’t caught with your pants down when you land that first big buck. You may decide that you want to process your kill yourself, in which case you’ll need some equipment like a hunting gambrel to hang your kill for skinning, and sharp skinning blades to make the process easier. If you choose to have your kills processed by someone else, you should search out a good local processing center ahead of time. Check with them to familiarize yourself with their rates and processing options. You can usually choose between getting whole cuts of meat, having it ground and packaged, and having the head or antlers mounted for a keepsake of your successful hunting season. Or you can decide to donate your kill to a local food bank that accepts it. In any case, have a plan before heading out.

Which Will You Do?

These are just five ideas to help get you out your chair and back in the field now during the off-season. The reality is though, there’s a never-ending list of things you could be doing with your spare time, and hunting should be seen as a 365 day a year sport, rather than just a seasonal thing.

With all that said, what tasks will you be undertaking to give yourself a head start at bagging that big deer this upcoming season?

comments

  1. avatar Keith44 says:

    Item 6 – Strength training and conditioning.

    1. avatar Forward Assist says:

      Make 6 number 1.

      Every year we have old and young fudds kick the bucket trying to hike a hill. And that goes triple for the new crop of obese teenager hunters who think fair chase is endless hours of driving dirt roads hoping a monster buck will cross the road and then pause for a few minutes.

      Oh and a big number 7. Learn the friggen difference between a grizzly and a black bear!!

    2. avatar MIO says:

      Exactly! Get in shape. So tired of the excuses from others

  2. avatar Marty says:

    Yes, these are all things a hunter needs to consider. Number 5 hits home for me. I always used a commercial meat processor. Then, I hit a deer with my wife’s Tahoe. I was new to the state, so I called the DFG, and asked if I could take the deer. She checked with the law enforcement side and said they don’t recommend it as the meat would be bad from the trauma. I asked if that meant I could take the deer, and she replied I could (bad info). I called my wife and asked her to come get me as the Tahoe had to be towed. We loaded the buck into my truck, and since I didn’t have a tag, I processed it myself at home. No, I’m no expert, and yes it is hard work without the proper tools, but I did get the job done. The meat was excellent. Since then, I’ve processed the game myself. Yup, a back killer. Yup, takes me the better part of two days. But, it’s kind a cool to hunt, take the animal and process it myself.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    I go mountain bike riding in the game lands to look for deer. The bike allows me to cover a lot of ground and I usually sneak up on the deer

    1. avatar Marty says:

      You can do the same thing only better on horse back. Game animals have very little fear of horses.

      1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

        “Game animals have very little fear of horses.”

        If enough of them were out there hunting, the game would develop a fear of them…

        1. avatar Marty says:

          Agree. Even here in Utah, I see more Fish and Game agents on horseback than I see hunters.

      2. avatar FlaBoy says:

        RE horses, it’s odd how deer do not spook at all the noise a horse and rider make moving through the brush. You can ride right up on top of deer and they will not spook until they actually see that there is a person on the horse. All I can guess is that the noise is being made by a four legged critter, so they ignore it. Never hunted deer off the horse, but as kids, we did hunt rabbits (with a bow or 22lr) and ducks (with shotguns). Lived in South Florida. The ducks would leave the hunting preserve areas as soon as hunting season started and move into the farming areas, where the canals would be full of them. Kids didn’t have four wheelers, etc., back then, but we did ride horses. When duck hunting season started, we switched from bows and 22s to shotguns. Of course now, all the areas we rode in are developed, the farming areas and woods replaced with houses, shopping centers, etc..

        1. avatar Marty says:

          Absolutely. I can’t say how many animals including Bobcat and a Mountain Lion. The Bobcat was no problem, it just stayed under the brush and was no danger. The Mountain Lion just looked as us like dinner. My horse wanted to run, but I knew that was not good. I was able to back her up while yelling and drawing my sidearm. Real scary, don’t want that kind of incident ever again. Yea, even in San Diego County, we kept getting crowded out. Our last place was 60 miles east of the city. There, we didn’t get crowded out, but it was getting close to retirement and it was the politics that forced us to leave the state. That place was the perfect horse ranch, but only 3 miles from the border and we had a 3 year old daughter to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, the illegals I saw, were pleasant and only asked for water. But there was an illegal camp in one corner of a property under some trees. It looked like a typical migrant camp, filthy. Didn’t even know it was there until I was dove hunting on year. The next year, I retired and we sold out and left the state. Now we just deal with lots of snow, cold winters, but not too many liberals and no illegals. Horses seem to enjoy it too.

  4. avatar Mr. savage says:

    1: draw a tag in the first place….

    well shit!

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      This!
      If it weren’t for over the counter tags and private land hunt, the last couple of seasons would have been zeroed out for me. I drew no tags in any states I put in for last year, and this year too. 4th year in a row I haven’t drawn a Wyoming Antelope, even a doe! How is that possible?

      1. avatar Marty says:

        I know out of state hunters who get their deer tags every year here in Utah. In recent years, I’m able to get one every other year. The reason I’m quite sure is I pay 40 bucks for a tag, out of staters have to pay hundreds.

  5. avatar Hunter427 says:

    Get in shape so your not a lazy ass hunter

  6. avatar Bo Sundling says:

    I have been processing my deer for years; it saves a lot of money and the bonus is I get more meat than any processor ever gave me. I can also get the cuts off my deer that I want, not what the processor feels like doing that day.
    Now, my favorite cut is the flat iron steak, (for you anatomy nerds, that is the infraspinatus muscle.) There is a thin layer of tissue that divides this muscle down its length that is not that difficult to filet out if you have a good sharp knife. A little patience, and a willingness to learn the skill.
    For my money, the flat iron steak is the best tasting cut on the deer.
    There are two ways I cook it:
    1. Coat with a little salt and fresh cracked peppercorns, along with a little garlic powder; drop it into a screaming hot cast iron skillet with a little oil for ONE minute per side and plate it.
    2. Heat 5 tablespoons of GOOD olive oil in a skillet. Coarse grind/crush 5 tablespoons of peppercorns and put it into the oil and heat it until you can smell the pepper. Let it cool; while it is cooling, salt the meat lightly and let it come to room temp, (it won’t take long, these are small cuts, but tasty) When the pepper/oil mix has cooled, apply it to the meat all over. Using tongs, put the meat into the aforementioned screaming hot skillet for ONE minute per side and plate.
    WARNING! Overcooking this meat will render it as tender as shoe leather… as Alton Brown would say, not G**d Eats (it’s trademarked)

  7. avatar Bo Sundling says:

    I have been processing my deer for years; it saves a lot of money and the bonus is I get morany processor ever gave me. I can also get the cuts off my deer that I want, not what the processor feels like doing that day.
    Now, my favorite cut is the flat iron steak, (for you anatomy nerds, that is the infraspinatus muscle.) There is a thin layer of tissue that divides this muscle down its length that is not that difficult to filet out if you have a good sharp knife. A little patience, and a willingness to learn the skill.
    For my money, the flat iron steak is the best tasting cut on the deer.
    There are two ways I cook it:
    1. Coat with a little salt and fresh cracked peppercorns, along with a little garlic powder; drop it into a screaming hot cast iron skillet with a little oil for ONE minute per side and plate it.
    2. Heat 5 tablespoons of GOOD olive oil in a skillet. Coarse grind/crush 5 tablespoons of peppercorns and put it into the oil and heat it until you can smell the pepper. Let it cool; while it is cooling, salt the meat lightly and let it come to room temp, (it won’t take long, these are small cuts, but tasty) When the pepper/oil mix has cooled, apply it to the meat all over. Using tongs, put the meat into the aforementioned screaming hot skillet for ONE minute per side and plate.
    WARNING! Overcooking this meat will render it as tender as shoe leather… as Alton Brown would say, not G**d Eats (it’s trademarked)

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