Many outdoorsmen are like myself and they enjoy all of the outdoors sports. I love to duck hunt, hog hunt, deer hunt, turkey hunt, bass fish, and play golf. The problem is that I am not independently wealthy so I have to work for a living.
It seems like there is never enough time to pursue all of these outdoor passions that I so dearly love. In order to be successful at most outdoor sports, you have to put in a great deal of practice and preparation. As I write this article, the fish are biting, turkey are gobbling, and the golf courses are lush and green. However, if you want to have a good deer season you might consider preparing in advance this year. Even though you are probably busy with other endeavors, the time to start is now!
I have included a list of off-season preparation that will help you make sure you are ready in plenty of time. By following these tips, you might get the buck of a lifetime this year.
First and foremost, you need to secure a place to hunt. Since Texas is over 95 percent privately owned, most deer hunters in the Lone Star State choose to pay for a deer lease. If you don’t already have a lease, you should be looking immediately. These can be found online at timber company sites, lease brokers, and various hunting forums. They can also be found on Craigslist as well as other classified types of web pages. If you don’t have success online, I recommend that you make a trip to the towns near where you want to hunt. Once in the town be sure to hit the hardware stores, feed stores, and any sporting goods stores in the area. Be nice to everyone you meet and let them know what you are looking for. If you are still having no luck, I recommend knocking on doors. Find a house in the country and ask them if they have any land available. Always be kind and courteous. Ninety nine out of a hundred may turn you down, but keep in mind it only takes one yes to have a great lease.
After you secure a lease, you will need to find a spot. Many leases with multiple members will allow you to pick several spots. Most members take the path of least resistance and will pick the places that are easiest. High line right-of-ways and even some lease roads will be among the first places chosen. I encourage you to go a little farther from the beaten path. Look for oak trees and creek bottoms. These places will be full of acorns and everyone knows deer love acorns.
Once you have a spot, the work begins. Late spring, and early summer is the time to mow shooting lanes and trails. It is also a great time to mow and disk for future food plots. Once the ground is disked, it would be wise to have a soil sample taken. This will tell you how much lime or other nutrients you may need to add to help the foot plots to produce a highly palatable forage. Feel free to go ahead and build your deer blinds or even hang a few ladder or lock-on stands. Be sure to inspect the straps prior to hunting. The longer your stands are in the woods, the more time deer have to adjust to their presence.
If you are going to use a feeder, now is the time to start feeding. By keeping a little corn on the ground, you will begin to hold some animals in your area. If your place has hogs, it won’t take them long to find the corn. In fact you can probably hunt hogs with success within a week or two of putting up a feeder.
As you are making all of the preparations for where you will hunt, don’t forget about where you will sleep. A great deer camp will really enhance the overall experience for you as well as your guests. Water, power, heat, air conditioning, sleeping accommodations, camp fires, cooking arrangements, as well as a place to clean your game should all be considered. The first year on a hunting property is the most labor intensive so be sure to allow plenty of time to plan work trips to the lease. If everyone pitches in it will be easier and the experience will be more fulfilling for all of the members.
Finally, don’t forget to practice with your weapon of choice. If you are a gun hunter, be sure to make a few trips to the range to make sure that your gun is properly sighted. If you are a bowhunter, you should consider having your bow and bowstring inspected at a local archery shop. Strings are wear items and should be replaced as often as every other year. A bow with a bad string is a safety hazard and should not be shot. Once inspected try to shoot a few arrows three or four times a week to make sure you are proficient. Participating in a 3D archery shoot would also help to hone your skills.
If you are like many deer hunters, you might find it difficult to wait for the upcoming season. However, if you take the time to properly prepare, you will find out that there is barely time to get everything done before opening day. Don’t let all of the work to be done stress you out. Instead use this time to bond with friends and family members at the lease. Remember that each day you get to spend in the great outdoors is a gift from God and should be savored. Hunting is not all about the kill or arriving at a destination. It is about the journey. May your journey be magnificent!
Story by Brian Johnson