Darren Boudreaux loves to deer hunt, so he’ll be in the woods when the bell rings on the 2016-17 season.
And the Quality Deer Management Association member is likely to come home with venison because experience has taught him enough lessons to give him better than even odds of scoring early.
Here are his tips for putting meat in the freezer during the first days of hunting:
1) Food is the name of the game — Unless you hunt in an area in which the deer have already begun thinking about love, you need to find reliable food sources.
“Most deer are fairly predictable the first couple of weeks of October, as long as they aren’t pressured,” Boudreaux said. “Deer will be traveling from bedding to feeding areas in the late afternoon. If you are lucky enough to have soybeans on your property — or close by — that haven’t been harvested yet and are still green and lush, you can bet the deer will be headed there.
“Just find the most likely trail headed to the bean field, back off the field 100 yards and hang a stand.”
But don’t fret if you aren’t in an agricultural area.
“If you don’t have soybeans close by, hopefully you have some summer food plots that you planted to provide summer nutrition to does growing fawns and bucks growing antlers,” Boudreux said. “Treat these just like you would with the soybean fields. If you hang a stand right on the field edge, expect the deer to come out later in the evening.”
But be ready to adjust once food plots become less important to deer.
“Once the acorns start falling in mid- to late October, you better be ready to shift to a different feeding pattern,” he said.
2) Low pressure is essential — “It’s been 6 months since deer season, so most hunters are chomping at the bit to get back in the woods,” Boudreux said. “The woods have been quiet all summer long, and all of a sudden deer notice that hunters are in the woods almost daily. Too many hunters want to start checking cameras, put out supplemental feed and ride all over the woods at this time of the year.
“Resist the urge to shock the deer into hiding. If you need to be in the woods to hang a stand or a camera, do it at midday. Get in there, be quiet, stay scent free, and get out. And don’t go back every day to check on things; stay out of the area as much as possible and the deer are more likely to stay on their normal summer time feeding patterns.”
3) Scent control — “We all know what October in Louisiana means: hot and humid,” Boudreaux said. “Hot and humid equals sweat, which makes for tons of human odor. Take every precaution to remain as scent free as possible.”
This veteran hunter said this is a factor many ignore.
“I am still amazed at how many deer hunters wear their hunting clothes while hanging out and cooking at the camp or going to the store or filling up their gas tanks,” Boudreaux said. “Hunting clothes should remain in their air-tight container until you are in the woods, and should go back in there when you are done hunting.
“Use some good common sense and follow commonly accepted methods to control your human scent. Don’t forget about your backpack and bow when thinking of scent control.
“Going through all the steps to get your hunting clothes scent free is pointless if you just put oil or grease on your bow or gun. Use one of the scent-free products that are available. “
One last point on scent control: Choose your stand type carefully.
“Stay away from climbing stands during the early season,” Boudreaux said. “You just can’t use a climbing stand when its 90 degrees, and not get drenched and sweat and smell like a boar hog rolling around in a mud hole.”
4) Hunt the wind — Another factor in preventing deer from smelling you is to hunt smart and be prepared for any wind direction.
“Plan on south winds for October, but cross your fingers for that rare October cold front,” Boudreaux said. “Should we get lucky enough to get a cool snap, have a few stands set up for a north wind.
“ But plan on having multiple stand sets for southerly winds.”
And, he said, don’t hunt a stand if the wind is wrong, no matter what.
5) The old switcheroo — If you only have one stand for bow season, you’re asking to watch squirrels and tweety birds.
“Never over hunt a stand,” Boudreaux said. “I don’t like hunting a stand more than once a week, especially during the early season.