Three Sundays to Hunt

No matter on which side of the conversation you were on, history will be made this hunting season in Pennsylvania. For the first time ever, hunters will be legally allowed to hunt deer and bear on a Sunday expanding opportunities for hunters whose time is at a premium with work, school, and other family activities.

You may have seen the headlines back in the spring and even sifted through an article or two when the announcement was made. Now that historic change is close on the calendar, some may not know when, and what can be hunted these first Sundays.

The final approval was given to the dates of November 15 for archery deer hunting, November 22 for firearms bear hunting, and November 29 for firearms deer hunting. This three-week span undoubtedly provides an enormous opportunity for green or seasoned hunters and their families to make the most out of limited time afield.

The first Sunday during archery season for deer is not only an extra chance to fill that tag alone, it also occurs during a coveted, although debated and always changing, timing of the whitetail breeding season known to archery hunters as the rut. Bucks consumed with the yearly focus on breeding with receptive does tend to throw caution aside and come out of hiding providing an opportunity to hunters at larger bucks who most of the year spend their time hiding and moving at night.

November 22 brings a gift in the form of a firearms bear hunting opportunity, which if you’ve never participated in hunting for bear here in the keystone state, try to make friends with someone who’ll take you. The experience to hunt these elusive animals in some of the state’s prettiest country is a challenge well worth the effort. Having that first Sunday really opens things up to hunters who may have limited vacation time to use on an already limited season.

Finally, the tradition of traditions in Pennsylvania, the firearms season for whitetail deer. Generations of hunters can search back through some of their favorite memories of hunting with family and friends, here and gone, on those frosty mornings waiting for that shot. Corkboards in camps across the state are filled the pictures of past seasons. Cherished memories hanging there with every thumbtack.

Now hunters young and old have a chance to make more of those memories. Especially those families with limited time to spare, that in recent years elected not to go at all because a single day wasn’t worth time and money to go. This also benefits those communities in the state that rely on hunter dollars coming in as a result of this tradition. Revenue that had been declining hopefully now, will be infused back into these communities as hunters can justify spending money on a trip to the woods.

Whether you’ve had these dates circled on your calendar, or didn’t know about them, try to take advantage of this historic opportunity. This change has come after decades of debate in a state with a rich hunting tradition and an incredible opportunity for game on abundant public and private land. This is something a lot of individuals and organizations fought to achieve in the newspapers and the halls of the state capital. You’re likely to interact with other hunters and non-hunters out there who may not know the new regulations. Be safe and respectful, we as hunters get to see and take part in a lot of incredible things while hunting not everyone understands.

From all of us at Kinsey’s Outdoors be excited, be safe, best of luck, and let us know how you do out there.

Big Woods Whitetail — Interview with Beau Martonik

Gear Up for the Big Woods

Big woods whitetail hunting is about as challenging as it gets.  Not only do hunters have to deal with long treks across mountainous terrain, but the lack of agricultural food sources and typically lower deer densities test even the best woodsmanship.  There’s no one piece of gear available that equates to automatic success in any hunting situation, but the combination of the right mentality and quality equipment can increase success ratios by leaps and bounds.  Hunting in the big woods takes a lot of persistence, the ability to adapt, and great patience to be successful and one knows this better than Beau Martonik.

Martonik, a native of Pennsylvania’s vast Alleghany National Forest region, grew up hunting whitetails in one of the United States’ most storied big woods settings.  Beau has spent his entire life perfecting both his strategy and gear list so as to be able to locate, pursue and kill mature bucks in some of the most challenging conditions in the country.  Consistently punching tags in this terrain takes a purposeful and detailed approach and so I asked Beau to break down the process and system that leads to venison in the freezer and antlers on the wall, year after year.

Narrow The Search

Big woods bucks are crafty and unpredictable.  Being travelers of long-distance makes these bucks especially hard to pattern.  Instead of seeking out single-season patterns, Martonik stresses the value in looking for year-to-year patterns.  “Bucks tend to do the same things season after season”, Beau elaborated, “So using trail camera data from prior years is a great way to make logical assumptions about what they will do in following seasons.”  Quality trail cameras, with extended battery life, strategically placed along key terrain features, or social areas such as primary scrapes, are a great educational tool for the big woods hunter.  Even in big woods settings, Martonik is still looking for an edge.  He stresses that bucks in the big timber interact with edges much the same as they do in agricultural settings, but those edges look a bit different.  Creeks, clear cuts, thickets, and benches are all examples of the types of edge that these bucks like to use for travel.  Rut funnels such as ridge tops saddles also make for great cruising corridors in the mountains.

To locate these features, a quality mapping application is useful.  Martonik employs the use of OnX to pinpoint locations he will later check during his scouting efforts.  Remote and overlooked areas become quickly recognizable with the use of aerial and topographical maps; as do terrain funnels and vegetation changes that create the edges that big bucks love to use.

Gear Up

The challenge of hunting big woods whitetails will test your resolve, but it will also quickly show you any chinks in your gear “armor”.  In this environment, quality equipment not only makes the hunt more enjoyable, but it can, indeed, improve success ratios.  Once a hunter narrows the expanse of timber to several high percentage locations, having the right gear for the job is the next step in the process.  “When it comes to this type of hunting, a beneficial piece of gear to have is a high-quality frame pack- if you are successful it will carry your kill out,” Beau said.  “A ‘rut pack’ is also a huge benefit in the big woods; something that can integrate with a stand and sticks to get all the gear you need to the tree for an all-day sit.”

Martonik is also a huge proponent of high-level performance apparel systems.  Mountain hunters have long been pushing the envelope in the testing and development of new and better layering systems and the concept has begun to show its value in the whitetail woods as well.  He uses moisture-wicking base layers such as fast drying synthetics or natural merino wool fibers which retain their insulation capabilities even when they become damp from perspiration.  The key, though, is to reduce the amount of sweat, period.  To do this, Beau wears only a lightweight synthetic or merino layer when walking several miles to remote stand locations.  And that quality pack referenced above?  That holds the heavy outer layers that will be applied immediately after he cools down in his stand.  Going deep into the timber and pursuing big woods ghosts requires pack-ability and thermal regulation.  As such it is hard to overstate the importance of both a pack system and the apparel you choose.

Safety 

            Even with the advances in cell phone technology, if you are pushing the envelope and going where others aren’t willing to go, you will find yourself outside of cell phone service from time to time.  This is an area where Beau takes no chances.  “I am never not attached to the tree with a lineman belt or a safety line with a prusik loop attachment,” Beau said.  Staying tied off 100% of the time is imperative when doing this kind of hunting.  In fact, having two safety ropes often makes it easier to ensure you are tied in at all times, even when you are transitioning into and out of the treestand.  Hunters should be aware of suspension trauma, a very serious and potentially lethal phenomenon that occurs when hanging for an extended time from a harness.  Pooling blood in the suspended hunter’s legs can cause unconsciousness and unless rescued, eventually lead to death.  For this reason, and others, Beau has started to carry a GPS phone which allows texts to send via satellite even from the most remote locations.  Texts can include GPS coordinates for rescuers to use to find a hunter more quickly.  These devices are worthwhile investments, and hunters with western aspirations should especially consider them to be a necessary purchase.

Success 

            The hunt in the mountainous timber of the Appalachian Mountains is, in itself, a challenge.  However, having success in this environment is when the real work begins.  Dragging a deer over two miles of rugged terrain is a grueling task and quite a time commitment.  That’s why Martonik chooses to combine more western philosophy into his whitetail hunting and pack out his kills.  Using the gutless method, Beau is able to get all the venison, cape, and his gear out of the woods in two trips.  The aforementioned frame pack shines in this application.  He carries a “kill kit” consisting of the tools he needs (game bags, knife, garbage bag, flagging tape, paracord) to skin and process the deer on the ground.  With the gutless method, the abdomen of the deer is left intact and all the meat from the quarters and loin is removed and packed out with the frame.  Beau’s go-to for skinning and processing in the field is his Havalon replaceable blade knife, and with this process, he is able to make quick work of a deer after the kill and get out of the woods faster and with less physical exertion than the traditional “deer drag”.

There is always more than one way to skin the cat, as they say.  Martonik’s approach has evolved over his years in the timber through trial and error; and no doubt that kind of person who has the thirst for new adventure is the same kind of person who continually seeks new and better ways of doing things.  But, when it comes to locating and killing big woods deer, the whole Martonik family is proficient, to say the least, and Beau has a systematic approach and his gear list pretty dialed in.  So, I asked Beau what he believes is one of the biggest mistakes made by industry personnel when advising and instructing people on their gear choices for this “big woods” type of hunting. He replied, “From my experience working in retail, and now as someone who helps advise people on gear choices, I think the biggest thing people overlook is making certain that you understand the consumer’s intended use of the product.  I am going to advise someone entirely differently if they are planning to walk several miles in hill country versus walking a couple hundred yards to hunt a field edge.  It’s important to know their goals, and sometimes you have to be able to understand that maybe even better than they do themselves, so that you can make the proper recommendations for each individual hunter’s situation.”

To find more information on Beau Martonik, follow him on Instagram at @beau.martonik . He also produces a popular podcast series called East Meets West Hunt Podcast and runs the Instagram page @EastMeetsWestHunt. His website is www.EastMeetsWestHunt.com

 

Author: Reuben Dourte

PA Doe Tag, PGC Antlerless Deer Tag Status

How To Check The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application

How To Check The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application

If you’re anything like me, patience is a hard thing to come by especially when it pertains to hunting. This rings true every July after Pennsylvania hunting licenses officially go on sale and the lead up to submitting your antlerless deer tag application.

 

Every PA hunter is bound to have their own strategy in order to get that pink Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer tag application envelop to their local county treasurer’s desk first thing Monday morning.

 

My rule of thumb is always trying to send out my antlerless deer application the Friday or Saturday before the Monday that the Antlerless Deer applications go on sale. Whether this level of planning and preparation is warranted or not, I still live by the adage that the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, their preferred WMU antlerless deer tag. It has worked for me up to this point so why fix something that isn’t broken?

 

Once I’ve submitted my antlerless deer application, the anticipation of whether or not I got my preferred WMU begins to build. Again, patience is hard to come by as I anxiously await to receive my self-addressed return envelop with my antlerless deer tag.

 

In years past, I’ve waited and watched for my check to clear only to wonder what WMU I was awarded out of the 3 WMUs I listed on my application.

 

However, in more recent years, I’ve learned how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania antlerless deer application. This works whether you’re a PA resident hunter or non-resident hunter.

 

Checking the status of your antlerless deer tag allows you to not only see if you’ve been awarded an antlerless tag, but also which WMU if you’ve been awarded a Pennsylvania antlerless deer tag.

 

In checking the status of your antlerless deer application online, you can help ease your mind in between submitting your PA Antlerless Deer Application and finally receiving your antlerless deer tag in the mail.

 

Below we’ve outlined how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer application status online. We’ve also listed how to check the antlerless deer tag availability which includes total allocation, tags sold, and antlerless tags remaining by WMU.

 

 

Step 1: Go to the Pennsylvania Game Commission Website

 

Step 2: Click on Buy a License

 

Step 3: Click on Purchased Online link which will take you to The Outdoor Shop. For future reference, you can always bookmark this page and start directly from The Outdoor Shop.

 

Step 4: Click the top radio button labeled Purchase Fishing and/or Hunting License Permit and or Application / Replace License and or Permit. Click OK on the pop-up screen, scroll down the page, and click the Start Here Button to continue.

 

Step 5: Choose and enter your preferred method of identification, CID # (Hunting License ID Number), Drivers License Number, Social Security Number, or Alternate ID, and click continue.

 

Step 6: Verify if you’re a bona fide resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or a non-resident hunter.

 

Step 7: Scroll down below your information and choose the option for Check on the status of an Antlerless Deer or Elk Application and click continue.

 

Step 8: On the Lottery Application Status Page you’ll see both your Elk Lottery Information (Preference Points and Pending Elk Lottery Information) as well as that season’s Antlerless Deer Application status.

 

Here you’ll see the status of your antlerless deer application. If you’ve been awarded an antlerless deer tag, you’ll also be able to see which WMU you’ve been awarded one.

 

BONUS: If you click return to home on the Lottery Application Status Page, or navigate back to The Outdoor Store main page – you can also check the antlerless deer license availability.

 

This is both useful if you got a late start in submitting your 1st round antlerless deer tag, or if you’re curious how many antlerless deer tags remain for a particular WMU for the 2nd round of resident and non-resident antlerless deer tag applications.

 

For more information on antlerless deer licenses and applications – visit the Pennsylvania Game Commissions website here.

 

To shop our full line of hunting, archery, and outdoor gear and accessories – visit us online at shop.kinseysoutdoors.com/, or in person at 1658 Steel Way Drive, Mount Joy, PA 17552.

Forester Lumbar 650 Pack

Professionals know when to use the right tool for the job at the right time. No one walks onto a job site with just a hammer. No mechanic opens the hood with just one size wrench. They know that every situation is different. Those situations can also change 10 times before lunch, and that’s why they go to work armed with a variety of tools so they can succeed in every situation.

The same thing is true for those who live a life outdoors. As outdoorsmen and women, we spend the vast majority of our time either hunting, fishing, or scouting.  Seasons and species that you’re chasing change and you need your equipment to change and adapt accordingly.

That’s why now, during the warmer months of the year, one of your go-to tools should be the Forester Lumbar 650 Pack from Elevation.

If you’ve ever found yourself hanging trail cams, chasing a gobbling tom, or getting to the deer stand in the early season wishing for a lightweight mobile pack – this pack is it. It allows for easy packing of your essentials along with a variety of extras that you’ll need in the field or on the go. The pack is also perfect for those warmer weather pursuits without weighing you down so you can go farther, and more comfortably into the woods.

The pack features heavy-duty and highly adjustable shoulder straps that sit comfortably on your shoulders while a waist belt with breathable foam insulation sits comfortably on your hips. The open back area allows for more airflow and breathability than your traditional pack would. This is a huge benefit while you’re on your hike or while you’re scouting and checking trail cams in the warm offseason.

The pack is armed with an astounding 650 cubic inches of storage with three main pockets on the back. Each pocket contains separate netting inside affording extra organization and storage options. There are three extra pockets on the back for quick stashing items like a water bottle, game calls, or batteries.

Two clinchable straps are also strategically placed on the bottom of the pack for storage of a jacket, decoys, bedroll, or a hunting stool. This all seasons pack is perfect for dove season right into early archery.

There are an additional six extra storage pockets on the waist belt, as well. These storage pockets are smaller and perfect for an extra can of bug spray, snacks, wallet, keys, or game calls. All of the pack’s zippers can be easily opened with their rugged and extra-wide openings so you won’t have to fumble in the dark or if you’re in a hurry.

The straps are adjustable and easily maneuvered either stationary or on the go. This makes it perfect for getting to where you need to go after just hearing that gobbler, checking your trail cameras, or if you need to adjust after putting on a jacket.

This pack is not only durable but it’s also quiet. It also stores easily and is worth way more than what you’d pay for similar products on the market. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if it becomes your go-to pack whether you’re enjoying the outdoors, getting ready for hunting season, or taking a hike with your friends and family.

You can get more information on this and other great archery packs and products by visiting the Elevation website here.

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Pennsylvania Pre Rut Hunting Update and Tips

Pre Rut Hunting Tips and Tactics

What strategy are you employing when hunting late October and early November? The Pre Rut can contain some great opportunities to tag out on your target bucks or on public ground. This time of year lends itself to calling tactics, hunting over food such as white oak acorns, and hunting over scrapes. As the season transitions into early November the chase phase of the rut will begin, and hunting on pinch points and funnels will inevitably bring a shooter or two within bow range.

In this video Grant from the everyday outdoorsman breaks down his pre rut hunting strategy and some recent encounters!

bowsetup

Utilizing Your Local Archery Pro Shop for Setting Up a Hunting Bow

Setting Up a Hunting Bow with the Experts

Kinsey’s Outdoors in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania offers full bow hunting bow setup services. Whether you are looking to upgrade a specific bow hunting accessory, like a new rest or sight, or are in the market for an entirely new bow hunting setupKinsey’s Outdoors can help. Their technicians are experts at setting up a hunting bow and providing maintenance and tuning services to get you ready for hunting season. Specifically, their bow hunting prop shop offers the following services: 

  • Setting up a hunting bow from start to finish 
  • Cable and string install 
  • Replacing accessories like peep sight, D-loop, or kisser button 
  • New or replacement rests (standard and drop-away) 
  • Performance enhancements such as string silencers, quivers, and stabilizers
  • Draw length adjustments

In addition, they offer a Basic Tune package, which includes string wax and nock checking, as well as a Hunt Tune and Lube package to get you completely ready for bow hunting season. Besides setting up a hunting bow, Kinsey’s Outdoors also provides complete services for all your crossbow needs and a broad selection of archery hunting equipment. 

kotechnohunt

TechnoHUNT is the Best Way to Elevate Your Bow Hunting Skills

Bow Hunting Practice and Skill Development with TechnoHUNT 

TechnoHUNT is an exciting, interactive digital target-shooting experience designed for all levels of archery hunters offered at Kinsey’s Outdoors. The technology allows you to use your own bow hunting equipment to practice and compete in real-life bow hunting situations. Frankly, no other indoor archery range better prepares you for bow hunting season than TechnoHUNT. 

TechnoHUNT allows you to shoot real arrows with specialized tips at a digital screen enabling you to easily teach and train on safe, ethical archery hunting. It is ideal for bow hunting for beginners and keeps seasoned bow hunting pros sharp all throughout the year. You can simulate different hunting scenarios and shoot against your friends in competitive archery challenges at any time or during any conditions throughout the year. Nothing else provides this level of archery hunting preparation and shooting enjoyment and at a reasonable rate.  

Kinsey’s Outdoors also offers a state of the art archery test range and traditional indoor archery shooting range. Their fully stocked bow hunting pro shop and experienced bow technicians will have you ready for practice fun with TechnoHUNT or the upcoming archery season. 

Bow Season Opener and Early Season Tactics

Bow Season Opener Strategy and Tactics for Early Season Success

yearlong wait finally ends when the bow season opener arrives. Some hunters have prepared thoroughly and scouted wisely up to the first day of archery seasonIf you are not one of those wellprepared hunters, you need a little luck and good tactics to put a buck on the ground during the first few days of archery season. 

Opening day archery hunting is tradition for many, but most bowhunters don’t start really focusing on the season until late October. Why? Because you can avoid trying to figure out how to hunt bucks in the early season and jump right over the October lull. As an alternative to avoiding this time of year, understand where to hunt and build a strategy of success for early season bucks. Deer are less pressured and more predictable around the bow season opener and a mature buck can be had with the right tactics. 

Where to Hunt the Bow Season Opener and the Week After

It may sound obvious but on the first day of archery season and the days after you want to be hunting where you see deer. Whitetails will still, for the most part, be in feeding mode as they come out of their summer patterns. This means agricultural fields and mast areas will be key for early seasobow hunting stand placementAlso, deer will consistently visit water sources. A reliable water source can be a deadly first week of bow season location and even a good spot to hunt all the way up until the rut.

Two Bow Season Opening Day Stand Locations

  1. Acorn producing white oak flat – Deer will consistently feed on white oak acorns when available. Focus in on areas with a good crop of white oak acorn mast. Deer will often casually feed around when there are lots of acorns, which makes it hard to place a stand. Each evening they come out a different trail and leave a different way. Try to pick the most worn trail with the freshest sign for a stand location. Also, remember to take the wind into account and possibly even hang two stands over one white oak flat to be able to hunt different wind conditions.
  2. Water source – Because whitetails are still feeding a lot in the days leading up to and just after the bow season opener, water is critical. They will typically hit a water source after feeding in the morning and again in the afternoon as they move to an evening food source. Understanding deer movement around a water source allows you to place an archery stand in a reliable spot for late mornings and early afternoons.

Bow Season Opener and Early Season Deer Hunting Tactics

A successful archery hunter is always adapting based on current information and the time of the year. There is no exact playbook on how to hunt bucks in early season but these strategies are a place to start for early season success.

Continue to Use Trail Cameras

We all know trail cameras provide important pre-season information, but they are invaluable when it comes to early season bow hunting. They provide data around the timing of when bucks are entering and leaving food and water sources, if bucks are still in bachelor groups, and which food sources are hot and should be hunted. All this information is helpful in understanding deer movement and planning tree stand placement.

Be Willing to Be Mobile

The first week after bow season opens is very much a transition period. Whitetails, and especially bucks, are going to be changing their patterns in the next few weeks. Having trail camera data will tell you where deer are and when they are moving as well as when patterns begin to change. In order to hunt transitioning bucks, you need to be able to be mobile, either with a lightweight portable hang on treestand or a climbing treestand so you can change locations based on daily changing patterns.

 

 

Early Season Deer Calling Can Work

Deer calls are probably the last item on your bow hunting pack essentials list, however, they can work in the early days of archery season. When you think about when to use deer calls the rut is the first thing that comes to mind. Using a grunt call early season can work if done correctly. Unlike the rut when you are grunting hot and heavy, in the early season you want to call sparing and at a lower volume. It is to build curiosity and gain attention. Never grunt early with a buck coming in or looking at you.

Another early season deer calling strategy is to use a doe bleat. Does and fawns will be communicating and a curious buck may work towards you if he hears a doe or fawn bleat. Instead of calling blindly, use a doe bleat if a buck is feeding away from you or comes out to a food source out of range. A soft bleat may be enough to trigger him to come in and check out what is going on.

Minimize Early Season Bow Hunting Mistakes

Any time during the bow season you want to minimize mistakes. This is critically important for the bow season opener and the days following. Deer have been unpressured for months, few people have been in the woods, and they are set in their patterns. All of which are bad for an archery hunter who makes mistakes. There are three mistakes hunters commonly make on the first day of archery season and throughout the early season that can be detrimental.

  1. Getting in stand too late – You want to get into your stand as early as you can. The earlier the better because it allows plenty of time to let the woods calm down and any scent carried in to disperse. Also, getting there late could mean bumping a buck heading to food or water that will change his pattern entirely.
  2. No exit strategy – A good exit strategy goes a long way. Deer will be feeding on a food source well after dark early in the year. The last thing you want is to spook a buck or a herd of deer from a field or acorn flat trying to leave your stand. Stay late and have an exit strategy that is away from the food source and any travel lanes deer use to access it.
  3. Casual scent control – Not having a total scent control plan for early season hunting is by far the biggest mistake archery hunters make. Any whiff of human odor in the woods by a mature buck around the bow season opener or days following is a sure way to never see him again. Deploy all the scent-eliminating tools from ozone devices, scent-eliminating sprays and scent killing clothing and soaps, to be as scent free as possible.

 

In summary, the bow season opener for most archery hunters marks the start of a long and exciting season chasing mature bucks. Don’t discount your bow season opening day and the days and few weeks after it as just prep work for later in the archery season. Insteadcapitalize on this time of year by deploying deploy specific strategies and tactics to increase your chances of success at the beginning of bow season.

Bow Season Opener and Early Season Tactics

Bow Season Opener Strategy and Tactics for Early Season Success

yearlong wait finally ends when the bow season opener arrives. Some hunters have prepared thoroughly and scouted wisely up to the first day of archery seasonIf you are not one of those wellprepared hunters, you need a little luck and good tactics to put a buck on the ground during the first few days of archery season. 

Opening day archery hunting is tradition for many, but most bowhunters don’t start really focusing on the season until late October. Why? Because you can avoid trying to figure out how to hunt bucks in the early season and jump right over the October lull. As an alternative to avoiding this time of year, understand where to hunt and build a strategy of success for early season bucks. Deer are less pressured and more predictable around the bow season opener and a mature buck can be had with the right tactics. 

Where to Hunt the Bow Season Opener and the Week After

It may sound obvious but on the first day of archery season and the days after you want to be hunting where you see deer. Whitetails will still, for the most part, be in feeding mode as they come out of their summer patterns. This means agricultural fields and mast areas will be key for early seasobow hunting stand placementAlso, deer will consistently visit water sources. A reliable water source can be a deadly first week of bow season location and even a good spot to hunt all the way up until the rut.

Two Bow Season Opening Day Stand Locations

  1. Acorn producing white oak flat – Deer will consistently feed on white oak acorns when available. Focus in on areas with a good crop of white oak acorn mast. Deer will often casually feed around when there are lots of acorns, which makes it hard to place a stand. Each evening they come out a different trail and leave a different way. Try to pick the most worn trail with the freshest sign for a stand location. Also, remember to take the wind into account and possibly even hang two stands over one white oak flat to be able to hunt different wind conditions.
  2. Water source – Because whitetails are still feeding a lot in the days leading up to and just after the bow season opener, water is critical. They will typically hit a water source after feeding in the morning and again in the afternoon as they move to an evening food source. Understanding deer movement around a water source allows you to place an archery stand in a reliable spot for late mornings and early afternoons.

Bow Season Opener and Early Season Deer Hunting Tactics

A successful archery hunter is always adapting based on current information and the time of the year. There is no exact playbook on how to hunt bucks in early season but these strategies are a place to start for early season success.

Continue to Use Trail Cameras

We all know trail cameras provide important pre-season information, but they are invaluable when it comes to early season bow hunting. They provide data around the timing of when bucks are entering and leaving food and water sources, if bucks are still in bachelor groups, and which food sources are hot and should be hunted. All this information is helpful in understanding deer movement and planning tree stand placement.

Be Willing to Be Mobile

The first week after bow season opens is very much a transition period. Whitetails, and especially bucks, are going to be changing their patterns in the next few weeks. Having trail camera data will tell you where deer are and when they are moving as well as when patterns begin to change. In order to hunt transitioning bucks, you need to be able to be mobile, either with a lightweight portable hang on treestand or a climbing treestand so you can change locations based on daily changing patterns.

 

 

Early Season Deer Calling Can Work

Deer calls are probably the last item on your bow hunting pack essentials list, however, they can work in the early days of archery season. When you think about when to use deer calls the rut is the first thing that comes to mind. Using a grunt call early season can work if done correctly. Unlike the rut when you are grunting hot and heavy, in the early season you want to call sparing and at a lower volume. It is to build curiosity and gain attention. Never grunt early with a buck coming in or looking at you.

Another early season deer calling strategy is to use a doe bleat. Does and fawns will be communicating and a curious buck may work towards you if he hears a doe or fawn bleat. Instead of calling blindly, use a doe bleat if a buck is feeding away from you or comes out to a food source out of range. A soft bleat may be enough to trigger him to come in and check out what is going on.

Minimize Early Season Bow Hunting Mistakes

Any time during the bow season you want to minimize mistakes. This is critically important for the bow season opener and the days following. Deer have been unpressured for months, few people have been in the woods, and they are set in their patterns. All of which are bad for an archery hunter who makes mistakes. There are three mistakes hunters commonly make on the first day of archery season and throughout the early season that can be detrimental.

  1. Getting in stand too late – You want to get into your stand as early as you can. The earlier the better because it allows plenty of time to let the woods calm down and any scent carried in to disperse. Also, getting there late could mean bumping a buck heading to food or water that will change his pattern entirely.
  2. No exit strategy – A good exit strategy goes a long way. Deer will be feeding on a food source well after dark early in the year. The last thing you want is to spook a buck or a herd of deer from a field or acorn flat trying to leave your stand. Stay late and have an exit strategy that is away from the food source and any travel lanes deer use to access it.
  3. Casual scent control – Not having a total scent control plan for early season hunting is by far the biggest mistake archery hunters make. Any whiff of human odor in the woods by a mature buck around the bow season opener or days following is a sure way to never see him again. Deploy all the scent-eliminating tools from ozone devices, scent-eliminating sprays and scent killing clothing and soaps, to be as scent free as possible.

 

In summary, the bow season opener for most archery hunters marks the start of a long and exciting season chasing mature bucks. Don’t discount your bow season opening day and the days and few weeks after it as just prep work for later in the archery season. Insteadcapitalize on this time of year by deploying deploy specific strategies and tactics to increase your chances of success at the beginning of bow season.

Bow Hunting Pack Essentials You Don’t Want to Forget

Bow Hunting Pack List | Essentials for Your Opening Day Bow Hunt

Archery hunters generally break deer season down into five phases. These phases consist of the early season, pre-rut, rut, post-rut, and the late season. Successful bow hunters have to understand how deer transition in and out of these phases and also how to adapt their bow hunting gear throughout the long archery season. Your bow hunting pack essentials will change considerably from early season to late season and every part in between. Picking the things to put in your hunting pack for day one is not as hard as you think.

Setting the Stage for The First Day of Archery Season

The first day of archery season is an all-around tough day to hunt. The weather can range from hot, summer-like conditions all the way to cold fronts that make it feel more like the start of gun season. Deer, similar to the weather, are also in a changing pattern of uncertainty.

For instance, in Pennsylvania the first day of archery season is a time when bucks largely transition from their summer routines into their fall patterns. Up until this point, bucks were largely focused on warm season food sources such as soybeans, alfalfa and native vegetation in hardwood forests. Day in and day out one of your most important pieces of archery equipment, the trail camera, has been documenting bucks regularly visiting these areas. Right around opening day, however, many of these food sources have diminished. Bucks now shift their focus on cool season forages like rye, oats, and other food plot forages. They also seek out thicker cover as activity builds in the woods and fall conditions move in. These factors all play into what is considered bow hunting pack essentials for opening day.

Two Opening Day Bow Hunting Pack Mistakes to Avoid

It can be difficult to put together the right hunting pack essentials for opening day. Archery hunters tend to make one of these mistakes. Either everything goes in the pack or the pack gets loaded with the wrong gear.

The first mistake many hunters make is to bring way too much bow hunting gear. Since last season ended, new gear has come out and months of preparation have been spent for this day. The result is you bring every piece of archery equipment and gear you have. The first day does not require everything. In fact, there is no need for grunt calls, rattling antlers or scents. It will be weeks until even pre-rut action starts so those items provide little value in your bow hunting pack.

Hunters commonly make a second mistake when preparing their pack for the first day of archery season. Key bow hunting gear gets left out. Bringing everything, mistake number one, is one strategy for not forgetting something, but not a very good one. You want to strategically build your opening day pack with the right gear. Strategically decide on the right bow hunting pack essentials and do not bring the wrong ones. For instance, early season will require some sort of bug control. Scent control will also be import. Both should be on your bow hunting pack list for day one.

Must Have Bow Hunting Pack Essentials for Opening Day

The opening day pack should not be a goliath sack filled with everything archery you own. Rather, it is a simple, streamlined bow hunting pack that has all the right archery equipment for the conditions the archery opener presents.

Check Out Our Best Hunting Packs

These bow hunting pack essentials are not unique to only the first day of archery. However, they are important and should be on every archer’s bow hunting checklist for day one.

Safety Gear

Always, always have a quality safety harness if you are archery hunting from a tree stand. A safety harness is a must have piece of archery equipment anytime you are hunting from a tree stand. In addition, a small first aid kit is one of those things to put in your hunting pack each time you head to the field. A small waterproof container with a few bandages, superglue, antibacterial cream, and headache relief is really all you need to be prepared.

Scent Control

It’s the name of the game to get an opportunity at a mature buck especially on opening day. Temperatures will most likely be warm and sweat and stink are likely unavoidable. Full scent control clothing is a must. How this plays into your bow hunting pack essentials is that a great tip is to carry in, your scent control clothing instead of wearing it to the stand. You will maximize effectiveness of the clothing this way. Two other important items are odor eliminating spray and a wind checker. A small spray bottle of odor eliminating spray will go a long way in keeping you concealed. Also a simple wind checker will help you hunt the wind and position yourself move effectively in stand.

Insect Repellant

At the top of the bow hunting must haves list is a ThermaCell®. It is one of the best insect repellants on the market, which is certainly required during those first few warm days of archery season. A camo facemask and gloves also help with bug control. These two items keep insects off your face and hands, which reduces movement and keeps you focused on hunting.

Of course every pack will need to have certain essentials regardless of the time of year you are archery hunting. For instance, a knife, bow and gear hanger, flashlight, GPS, extra batteries and drinks and snacks should be in everyone’s pack from opening day to the last day.

The Bow Hunting Pack Essentials List

  1. Safety harness and lineman’s rope 
  2. Small first aid kit 
  3. Scent control and breathable clothing 
  4. Odor eliminating spray or device 
  5. Wind checker 
  6. ThermaCell® insect repeller 
  7. Lightweight camo facemask and gloves 
  8. Bow and gear hanger 
  9. Multi-purpose knife 
  10. Tree saw/pruners for limbs and shooting lanes 
  11. Flashlight or headlamp 
  12. GPS or location sent to family members/friends 
  13. Replenishments (drinks and snacks) 
  14. Pull up rope for pack and bow 
  15. Grunt call and/or deer scents

As you continue down your pre-season bow tuning checklist, remember to also think about your bow hunting pack list. The first day of archery is highly anticipated and exciting, but do not let that overwhelm your pack. Focus on the bow hunting pack essentials that matter for opening day and leave the rest at home.