In case you haven’t noticed, we’re trying to save you from yet another year of opening day blues. I’d venture to say that more mistakes will be made on opening day than any other day of the year. Partly due to the fact that we have been waiting ever so impatiently for this day to arrive. But mostly because we tend to brush caution to the side and go for gold on the first day. Make this year different. You know what they say about doing to the same thing over and over only to expect a different result?
Apply What You Have Learned
Most of us have had cameras out for a good while now. I have seen picture after picture of bucks at night, and does, fawns and yearlings during the day. What does this mean? It means you have to decide what your target is. Let me help you with that. Night hunting is illegal! Obviously. Secondly, if the buck you are getting pictures of is arriving more than an hour after dark he is probably your neighbors buck. Look at the bright side, you’ve got something he likes! Don’t ruin it! If you have bucks frequenting a spot at night, every night, I would steer clear all together. Keep them coming until the rut or you start getting daytime pictures; whichever starts first. Now if you have daytime buck pictures that is an entire different story. Start planning your ambush now!
Ah…Opening morning is here. The cool breeze, the frost on the … whoops. I mean the hot, humid, soupy thick air and hordes of mosquitoes and biting flies swarming around your head. Buckets of sweat dripping from your face and soaked clothes ensure scent control a lost cause. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t really encourage a 4 am wake up call. I’ll enjoy reading the Facebook updates from the guys that are still “that mad at the deer”, sip on my coffee and prepare for the afternoon hunt. You may undoubtedly have fawns and young deer run by that could care less about your stink, or even your sporadic mosquito swat, but is that worth losing the opportunity at the buck on your radar? Maybe, maybe not. Meat in the freezer on opening day is a sweet, sweet luxury and its a long, long season. If you have morning pics of does or mature bucks however, completely ignore this section and GO GET EM!
Transition First. Food Second.
Your deer have been up feeding all night. Your trail camera pics are proof of that. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is going to a stand over a feeder or food plot on opening morning. Instead, get between their food and their bed. By the time you get settled in they’ll be about ready to hit the hay. Cut them off. Don’t bother trying to slip in near your feeder or pretty new food plot unless you like the sight of white flags and the sound of blowing does for 30 minutes straight. Save it for the afternoon!
The afternoon is a COMPLETELY different story. The deer are still hanging on to their summer pattern of feeding in the evening and late into the night. Get to your stand at the food source before they do. If you have thought ahead your stand is probably North of where you think they’ll come from. A south wind is a high probability in September-early October. This hunt is your best chance at success opening day. You didn’t spook anything in the morning, you’re down wind of the deer, and you can slip out undetected after dark before your eventual target buck visits for a midnight snack.
Just keep in mind that there is not a single deer tactic that is 100% accurate across the state 100% of the time. Not only that, but no two deer are alike. They all act and react differently. Treat them and your game plan as such! Looks good on paper doesn’t it? It’s up to you to apply and execute!