Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Time to start preparing

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A typical, 2.5-year old, 8 point. He will soon be shedding his velvet.

Ground fog gathers in the low spots. Dew glistens and their feet leave trails. I adjust the focus on my binoculars and watch closely.

I know where they came into the field. What I want to know is where they will leave. I don't know why I bother, I have been hunting this same place for 15 years. I'm not going to change anything now.

Deer and turkeys together? Somewhat unusual.

Around here, these deer don't often get along with these turkeys. You don't usually see them together. Maybe they signed a truce for the summer.

Of course, you don't usually see a young fawn with a 1.5-year old buck, either. Maybe it is going to be one of those strange years.

Now that one, I give a little more attention. He shows some promise. I might give him some though next year, probably not this year.

It is time to start preparing-one of my favorite times of the year.

When I could still shoot a vertical bow, to some degree, I shot all year. I just liked to shoot. Not so much the crossbow.

In fact, I don't like shooting it at all, even at a deer. But it beats sitting at home. Ten or 12 years ago, I would either be chasing elk or caribou this time of year. I have to content myself with "scouting".

It isn't really scouting for me anymore. As I said, I'm not going to change what I do. I'll hunt the same stands no matter what because the deer are going to walk by them...no matter what.

For many years, I would spend many days walking the woods, looking for oaks that were going to drop or a loaded persimmon tree.

I loved scouting for deer. I was at my happiest when I had a new piece of ground to explore. When my partner and I had the guide business, we would be hanging stands like mad. We had to get over 50 up by the end of September. And they had to be in the right place.

For the serious bow hunter, this is a busy time of year. Now is when you fine tune everything, make sure broadheads fly like the field points, be positive everything is locked down.

Then, you have to get to the woods. You have miles to walk, checking to confirm what you guessed at in the post season. See just which white oaks and red oaks are going to be the magnet trees. Look for the special treats that will be hot early -- the persimmons and crab apples.

If you are hunting food plots or crop fields, how are the deer getting to and from them?

What trails are getting the action. I never used trail cameras, don't like them, won't use them. For me, they take a lot of the enjoyment out of hunting. I don't care if others use them, just not for me.

For me, it is simple. Check each stand to make sure it is still safe. See if any of the shooting lanes need trimming. See if any of the fence crossings have changed. That is about it.

For the last three years, I have killed a deer each opening day. As it has been for a few years, I'm not even sure if I will go on opening day. The weather has to be right.

The last two years, I have not gone in the morning. I waited until afternoon and was not in the stand more than 30 minutes. Last year, I killed three deer the first four times I went out. This year, I am prone to wait until it cools off some.

Times were, nothing short of a thunder storm would keep me out of the trees opening day.

One opening day sticks in my mind. Russell Jackson and I were camped out on two secluded lakes, back in the hills of Humphreys County.

We went down three days early and scouted. With stands hung, we went fishing. The night before the season opened, we stuffed ourselves on fish fillets, fried potatoes and sliced tomato and onion salad. To say we slept well is an understatement.

At dawn the next morning, I was on a high ridge, less than 25 yards from two oaks that were raining acorns. The sun was just spackling the ground when I put arrows through two does and saw both fall.

That was a great opening weekend.

I don't get so excited about it now. But I do like the preparation. Better be giving some thought to yours. Now is the time to do the last minute scouting.

But one thing is for sure. Make certain your equipment is in tip top shape.

On August 25, I was fine tuning my TenPoint crossbow and the string on the cocker broke. I can't cock it with just my arms.

A quick trip to Poindexter's Bait Shop, just across the 109 bridge and problem solved. Buddy had going in short order.

Good thing I didn't wait until the day before the season opened. Don't you wait, either. Now is the time to get ready.

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com.

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