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September 30, 2011 at 08:30 AM

The State Journal-Register

Deer season is only 24 hours away for archery hunters.

Those who have planted food plots, set out trail cameras and sharpened their broad heads and shooting skills can begin the hunt for Mr. Big on Saturday morning. It might be a good idea to put your equipment in the vehicle tonight so that you’ll know where it is in the morning.

The good news about early season hunting is the deer travel patterns observed in August and September are still pretty much the same. It’s been awhile since the deer have been hunted. They have no reason to alter their routine. The rut is still a month to six weeks away. Bucks are still hanging in bachelor groups.

The bad news is with the harvest in high gear, the available cover and food sources are changing every day.

If you’ve been scouting a deer that appears at the edge of a field of standing corn every night, you’d better go after him right now, even if it means the wind direction might not be perfect. That cornfield could be a stalk field by the day after tomorrow.

October deer hunts can be hot or wet, windy and cold — on the same day. In October, we can go from the air conditioning to the furnace in less than 24 hours. It’s probably a good idea to keep warmer clothes and a rain suit in the truck. If you don’t need them today, you will before November.

Until there is a hard freeze or two, don’t forget the bug spray. You don’t want to be swatting mosquitoes and deer flies or pulling off ticks when you should focused on something bigger.

Some experts say you should move your stands higher early in the season to get above the ground clutter. If you do that, don’t forget that you have changed your downward shooting angle. Hopefully you’ve taken a few practice shots from the higher elevation.

Others say early season hunts can be more productive when you hunt destinations — bedding or feeding areas. They suggest hunting from a ground blind, getting as close to these areas as you can.

Either option — high or low — can be productive if you have chosen your setup carefully and have several clear shooting lanes.

When your buck finally appears, if you have to be a contortionist like Houdini to get a clear shot, it’s best to let him go and clear a better shooting lane when he isn’t standing there. This time of year, there’s a decent chance he’ll be back if you sit tight and don’t give away your position.

The wait is almost over. No matter what strategy you employ, hunt safely. Watch out for the other guy. If you’re hunting alone, tell somebody where you’re going and when you will be back. Put a first aid kit in your truck. Take your cell phone.

And, at the very least, bring home a good story.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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