By Bob Humphrey
For many hunters, deer season conjures up images of cold, frosty mornings and bare trees. But bow seasons, and even some gun seasons start early in many states, giving hunters a chance to ply their avocation under much milder conditions. But deer behavior patterns can be quite different this time of year and knowing how they differ from later in the fall can be helpful in planning your hunt.
With the rut still several months away, deer are focused on food, and not necessarily the same type of food as later in the season.
Soft Mast - Early fall is prime time for hunting soft mast. A few apples will fall early but the real drop comes after the first frost, and these pomes will be gobbled up before November comes.
There are few natural foods more attractive to deer than ripe persimmons. Find a patch and you could be in for some hot, albeit short-lived action.
Hard Mast - In my part of the country it’s easy because we only have two species of oaks: red and white. The white oak acorns fall early, and fast. Scout and catch it when it happens. It’s more variable in the south so you really need to stay on top of which species drop at different times.
Speaking of time, you can maximize yours by focusing on peak activity periods. Deer are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. This is especially true early in the season. When temperatures are warm the deer will head to bed earlier in the morning and come out later in the afternoon. Focus your efforts in the first and last couple hours of the day and use the rest pursuing other game or catching up on un-finished summer chores before the real action begins.
Comfort is key any time of year and you’ll be dealing with quite different conditions early in the season. No matter how warm it gets, a moisture-wicking base layer is a good idea. You’ll build up more perspiration and it can still get cool when the sun sets. Make sure it’s treated with an anti-microbial solution too as odor control odor is especially important now. You’ll also be dealing with biting insects so make sure you bring your ThermaCELL. These devices will create a bug-free zone around you without spooking game.