It’s here, the much-anticipated start to the 2019 deer seasons began on Saturday September 28 with the archery and crossbow opener. The first day of Fall has arrived which means the daylight hours will be shortening from here on out. However, the daytime temperatures have been stuck in summer mode reaching the mid and upper 80’s with no rain for over a month
The ground is very dry and parched around the mountain state so much so that there’s a statewide burning ban right now. This weather pattern will hopefully change sometime soon and give us deer hunters the cool, crisp mornings we think of when it comes to deer season. The acorns are starting to drop, and the deer will be switching their diets and spending more time in the woods.
The red oak family has a plentiful crop this year. The white oaks have some acorns on them as well but are spotty in nature from what I’m observing. If you find some white oak acorns on the ground, you can bet the deer will be consuming them in the weeks and months to come. It’s always a good idea to look around the area you plan on hunting and see what food sources are most prevalent.
With this hot and dry weather, water sources will be a good place to concentrate on early in the season. I’ve had a lot of action watching a small pond on a farm I hunt when the weather conditions are like this. Deer, turkeys, and all wildlife need water to survive especially when it’s this hot. Look for the water sources and fresh tracks if you plan on hunting the next few weeks.
The bucks have shed their velvet and they’ll start moving more as the rut and November approaches. If you’ve been running trail cameras and have pictures of a nice buck, now is the time to set up and try to take him before he switches his pattern. A neighbor killed a real nice 10 point a few years ago on the adjoining property by monitoring his trail camera. The buck was coming in every evening at the same time and he was in his blind on the 3rd day of bow season waiting for him. Just like clockwork the buck ducked under the fence and stepped out in the field 12 yards from his blind and it now has a permanent place on his wall.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to deer hunting is scent control. A deer’s nose is one of its best defenses. Pay attention to the wind direction which will determine which stand or blind to climb into. I strategically plan my entrance and exit routes to all of hunting locations to minimize my presence. My mindset when it comes to deer hunting is that I don’t want the deer to know I’m even there
A big buck and even an old mature doe, will catch on quick if you hunt the same spot over and over again. One tactic I’ve used which works well is if you have a buddy, or a loving wife, to drop you off and pick you up with an ATV. This works well if the deer are used to hearing and seeing ATV’s. Most of the time they’ll just run out of sight and stop and calm down. I use this tactic when deer are in the field or in front of me when darkness sets in and the legal shooting time has expired.
The ATV will spook them off, so they don’t see you climbing out of your stand or blind which will reveal your hunting location. Deer are smart animals and face danger on a daily basis as a prey species so it’s important to plan your entrance and exit routes. I’ve gravitated to hunting out of ground blinds over the years as they control your scent well and keep you out of the elements.
It’s an exciting time to be alive and roaming the West Virginia hills and hollows. The leaves are already showing hints of color although if we don’t get rain soon, they’ll dry up, turn brown, and fall off which seems to be the case this year. Good luck to all my fellow hunters this deer season. Stay safe, be patient, and enjoy your time in God’s great outdoors.