5 Hot Tips for a September 1 Deer Opener

5 Hot Tips for a September 1 Deer Opener

The days are getting shorter and a familiar chill is in the air after the sun sets. You know the feeling; the eve of deer season is finally upon us. Even if deer season is just a few short days away, it’s not too late to hedge your bet and prepare yourself for a successful September archery hunt.

Easy Does It

There are still a few evenings left for you to get out and locate a target buck. Even if you only have one sighting to base your hunt plan around, having very recent and relevant intel can go a long way. Even if your newfound target buck doesn’t show every night like clockwork, as long as another scouting hunter isn’t bumping deer, it’s almost guaranteed that he isn’t far from where you last saw him. Statistically speaking, the odds of laying eyes on your target buck on opening day are still about as high as they ever will be this fall.

For those looking for encouragement to get out and make the last few scouting days count, remember, scouting doesn't have to be hard. You don't need to glass for hours, hang a dozen stands, or deploy dozens of trail cameras. Sometimes all you need to do is drive backroads and be observant. Don’t be afraid to hunt the obvious food sources in early September. These deer haven’t been pressured all summer and have no reason not to partake in the best food around. If there was ever a time where locating a deep, steep, unpressured honey hole isn’t required, it’s the first couple days of the season. Good November spots don’t always make good September spots.

The Ideal Setup

Security cover, bedding, and water are all important, but food is king in early September. It’s the low-hanging fruit, as far as whitetail setups are concerned, and is uber-productive during the early season when deer are still exhibiting their summer feeding patterns and packing on the calories.

The blueprint for a successful September bowhunt goes something like this. Locate the preferred morning or evening food source. Identify the preferred travel route to the food source. Hypothesize where the buck is likely bedding during the heat of the day—think ground cover and a good perch where the deer can see approaching danger in relatively close proximity to the food source. Lastly, to stack the odds in your favor, find a pinch point along his travel route and set up shop right there.

First Hunt, Best Hunt

Perhaps more important than the ideal setup is an undetected entry route to your treestand. The beauty of an opening-day deer hunt is that these deer have been relatively unpressured throughout the summer months and are left completely unsuspecting of human predators. Try to keep it that way.

This is where mobile hunting and low-impact scouting shines. When I find a mature public land whitetail in August, I like to keep him completely unpressured and leave him none the wiser. If I can observe him from afar, that will be my preferred strategy and I won’t set foot in his core area until it’s time to hunt. If you hunt in an area that’s difficult to glass, cell cameras can be another useful tool. The last thing I want to do is to educate this buck by physically checking a trail camera the day before the season opens.

Go For Broke

Come opening day, I like to slip in with a lightweight hang-on and make my first intrusion count. I like to treat an opening day hunt like an all-or-nothing hunt, knowing that after I lay ground scent in his bedroom once or twice, he’ll become increasingly unlikely to continue his observed feeding pattern. You can still target this buck later in the fall, but consider his summer feeding pattern obsolete.

If you don't kill your target buck after the first day or two of the season, start the process over again and locate a new buck exhibiting a daylight pattern. Bucks will still be on their summer feed pattern well into September, until disturbed. This is where it pays to be prepared and have multiple bucks on your radar so that you don’t waste time locating a new buck when the clock is ticking.

Success Begins in August

The reality is, the better prepared you are for the onset of deer season, the more likely you are to find success. If you’re serious about notching a September 1 deer tag, the few weeks leading up to season are invaluable. Starting the process early will give you time to not only locate a mature buck, but to learn his tendencies, locate his bedding area, and plan your ambush.

You may find what appears to be a slam dunk opportunity, only to find that you can’t hunt the buck until you get the right wind direction. That could mean waiting precious days until the weather forecast is in your favor, yet another reason to have a Plan B deer or a Plan B setup. Lastly, the unfortunate truth is that the most killable buck isn’t always the biggest buck. If you truly want to find opening day success, the most consistent buck trumps the biggest buck.

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