For many deer hunters across the Carolinas, the intense field days preparing deer stands, planting food plots and monitoring the herd rarely start until 10 days or so before the opening day of the season. And for some, the work days may not start until after the season starts. But for diehard deer hunters looking to make a difference and improve their chances of bagging a trophy buck, summer is never the time to sit back and watch the weeds grow. There is always something to do to have a better deer season.
No doubt, the hot and humid days of July are tough on anybody working outside, but there is plenty to do to make the season a success without seating off 10 pounds. First off, hunters can begin to monitor the deer herd to see the quality and quantity of deer that will be available for the upcoming season.
With the air conditioning set to maximum, hunters can cruise around their properties and gather good information on their deer herd without losing a drop of sweat. During the summer, the best places to see a large portion of the deer herd are in farm fields planted in lush, agriculture crops. An evening drive to these fields is a perfect way to find out what kind of deer will be available.
Even if you have no fields on or adjacent to your hunting property, deer will migrate between neighboring fields and their homes as the fall arrives. Deer seen in fields several miles away can easily make their way back to a property where a hunter spends all of his time in the deer stand.
Deer rely heavily on agriculture fields to supplement their diet over the summer. In the Carolinas, approximately 4 million acres are dedicated to agriculture row-crop production. The deer should be thrilled because more than half of the summer crop is typically protein- and carbohydrate-rich soybeans, corn and peanuts.
Deer congregate around stable food sources and will rarely travel far this time of year, a time when bucks are in their bachelor groups. By using window-mounted spotting scopes or high-powered binoculars, hunters can gather crucial intelligence on their herd and see the types of bucks they’ve got close by. The same deer can be expected to show up in the same field almost every day.
Even with the light pressure, some older, mature animals will stay secluded inside the wood line during daylight hours. Where legal, hunters can visit agriculture fields at night with high-powered spotlights to see what deer show up. Sometimes after-dark observations will reveal an entirely different class of bucks never seen during the day. Check local regulations to make sure spotlights are legal before using them, and never have a firearm in your vehicle while spotlighting deer, regardless of whether it’s intended for hunting or not. The law is specific in these situations and prohibits access to any firearms in areas where spotlighting is legal.
In addition to window-shopping agriculture fields, hunters can set up trail cameras around main travel corridors leading to and from major food sources and bedding areas. The more data hunters can collect in the summer, the easier it will be to learn about the quality of the herd and the availability of bucks for the coming season.
By mid-July, bucks’ antlers have formed and are at about 80- to 90-percent of their finished product. Hunters should be able to easily distinguish one buck from another, and as the summer progresses into August, the final character will solidify.
Hunters should make notes of each buck by describing the antlers or body characteristics. You can even nickname different animals.
Keep deer-management activities active during the summer. Pre-season monitoring of the herd is one of he best ways to forecast and plan for deer season.