We are less than two weeks away from the opening day of Georgia’s deer season. Can you believe it? I hope you’ve been scouting and shooting your bow all summer, so you can just kick back these last two weeks and wait for your alarm to go off on September 8.
If you like me, however, that’s not the case.
While I have been doing some scouting and shooting my bow this summer, I still seem to have more to do before opening day than I can possibly accomplish. But I know come sunrise on opening day, I’ll be settled in my treestand ready to mark the first deer of the season on my harvest log.
If you’re feeling a little behind and don’t know where to start, here are five items to put on your to-do list for the next two weeks.
Shoot your bow…
If you haven’t been shooting your bow this summer, there’s no better time than today! It’s a great time to double check all the bolts/fasteners on your bow, and to make sure your string, servings and D-loop (if you use one) are all in good shape. Once you’ve made sure your bow is in order and ready to shoot, it’s time to fling some arrows.
With less than two weeks to get ready, it’s best to focus on the quality of your shooting time rather than quantity. Try to practice in real-life hunting situations as much as possible and make every single arrow count as if you were taking your one shot at a Pope & Young buck.
…with your broadheads
While you’re practicing your shooting, don’t forget to make sure your bow is tuned to your broadheads. Don’t wait until you’re at full draw on a big, mature buck to find out your broadheads don’t fly like your field points did. You owe it to yourself and to the animals we pursue to do everything you can to ensure a quick, humane kill.
Hang a stand…or inspect your stands
Hopefully you have all your stands hung by this point, but if not, there’s still time. If possible, try to time your efforts just before a rain event so the rain can “clean up” your scent from the area. Be sure to take the time to trim any necessary shooting lanes needed, but don’t overdo it. Leave some cover for later in the season.
If your stands are already up — especially if they’ve been up since last season — be sure to inspect those stands and the steps you use to access them. Straps get stretched and dry-rotted, and wasps build nests in treestands and climbing sticks. You don’t want to find out that any of those things have happened on opening day. Replace any questionable straps, cables, bolts, or chains. Again, it’s a small investment to ensure your own safety.
One more thing, and this should go without saying, but make sure you always wear your safety harness when hanging stands and hunting. Also, make sure all of your hang-on or ladder stands have some type of life-line system to keep you safe from the time you leave the ground until the time your return.
Run your trail cams
I realize the season is almost here, but there’s never a bad time to run trail cameras. Bucks will soon be shedding their antlers and making the shift from summer to fall patterns. That buck you’ve been watching all summer may soon become a ghost if you don’t keep your cameras mobile. Run them for a week or two in one area, then shift them to another. Always be gathering the most recent information you can and be ready to make a move when you finally get photos of the buck you’re after during daylight hours.
Prepare your hunting clothes
You can’t fool a deer’s nose. I don’t believe any “scent killer” or gadget known to man will keep a downwind deer from eventually smelling you. However, I still try to control my scent as much as possible, as it may give me that extra few seconds I need to make a crucial shot. So get out all your clothes and gear and get them washed in some type of “scent free” soap. Personally, I use good ol’ baking soda to wash my clothes and gear. You can then store those clothes/gear in a plastic tote with some natural vegetation — pine or cedar branches (depending on where you hunt) work great — to give them a more natural smell.
Pack your gear
For me, the peak of preseason excitement is the final packing of my gear in preparation of opening day. This is when I make sure all my equipment is in order, my headlamp has fresh batteries, my water bottle is clean and ready to use, and everything else I need is in my pack and ready to go.
Well, there it is. Let the countdown begin. Don’t let the season catch you off guard. Start making these preparations today to ensure you’re ready to fill a tag come opening day.