Hitting the stand early in the season? Here's what you need to think about...
The Midwest has a wealth of huge bucks, and the season is just kicking off. Wondering where to hit the pre-rut, and what should be in your pack? We sat down with Mark Peruzzaro of Grand Oak Adventures near Bedford, Iowa and got his take on hitting the stand early in the season. Grand Oak harvests huge bucks every year and Peruzzaro says it's because of the homework they put in. They have trail cams hanging all over their hundreds of acres. "We know the habits of these big boys." He tells his clients to come for a week and be prepared to spend all day in the stand. "The only way to kill a pre-rut buck is to put your time in." Here's what you need to have in your pack:
Everyone wants to be in the woods this time of the year. With more boots on the ground, you need to be better than the next guy (or gal). Peruzzaro tells us, "Once the rut fires up, the animals may get less cautious. But until then, Whitetails are pretty skittish." Deer will push to "scent holes" staying away from the hordes. Take the time to make yourself one of those holes. Start with the right clothing and use a good scent killing spray when you get out of your rig. Then carry a smaller bottle of the scent killer in your pack. In addition to masking your own scent, Ohio Outfitter Isaiah Dresbach also has a couple suggestions for pre-rut scents in our Whitetail Scents & Lures article.
Pro Tip: Your repertoire needs to have rubber boots. There's no better way to keep your smell off the trail.
Be a ghost getting into the woods. Find and know the trail leading to your tree stand. Your outfitter will have the best advice for your travel. Creep to your stand in the thick darkness with a good head lamp. Have a good land navigation unit to aid in your way-finding; either a GPS or a phone application is great. Know how to use them before you go, and make sure you have downloaded the correct maps for the area you will be in.
Deer do communicate throughout the year. However, they will not be crashing antlers during the lead up to the rut. Getting the does down your trail is the key to killing big bucks in the early part of the season. Fawn bleats can attract the females and as they are coming into heat, the big bruisers will follow. Peruzzaro says to call sparingly. "Silence can be golden this time of the deer season." Stay tuned for our upcoming piece on when & how to use whitetail calls for a more in-depth look with guide and expert Lenny Miller.
Autumn can go any direction in terms of weather. Be prepared to fight off the rain and wind, and then hold fast through 70 degree sunshine. Have a tight outer shell, and layer up underneath. Make sure your base layer can wick away moisture and that your mid layer can hold some warmth while still breathing. Also, bring some extra socks and a quick drying hat.
Peruzzaro reminds his clients that it takes time, and to remain patient and vigilant. "Some can't sit in the stand all day. Figure out a way to pass the time while still concentrating." A book isn't a bad idea. Read a few lines while you're still able to listen. Pause to keep looking around. Also, bring a lunch with plenty of water and some snacks. "The more time you're on the ground, the more scent you leave in the woods. If you have to come out for a break and then head back in, you are leaving your smell for the deer."
The opportunity to kill a big buck is there in the early season. Spend some time in the woods and be patient. A pre-rut monster might be in your future. To book a hunt with Grand Oak Adventures, visit www.Guidefitter.com/GrandOakAdventures1.