If that intro photo doesn’t get your pulse racing, you might need some help. What an incredible buck, huh? Well, imagine my anticipation when that popped into my email inbox last month, then learning how that buck was frequenting a spot I’d be bowhunting on the first evening in North Dakota at Heart J Outfitters on Sept. 5.
Talk about a major distraction. This would be my first year for deer hunting anywhere in North Dakota — a bucket-list state of mine for many years. I’ve heard about how fantastic the early archery season can be in this region, and I simply couldn’t wait to get there.
I made the flight into Minot on Friday with field producer Les Moore, another Wisconsinite. We were giddy with excitement at not only the prospects of what the afternoon hunts would bring but also the tremendous scenery we were about to discover for the first time.
This region is known more for its Air Force base and its booming energy economy. Our host, Chris Jorde (www.heartjoutfitters.com) gave us a quick tour of the town before we made the hour-long trip to the farmhouse that we’d call home for the next five days.
After we were all in and settled, I got a chance to sit down with Jorden and pick his brain on his scouting tactics. Not surprisingly, he employed a lot of the same tactics that I’ve used over the years:
1. Scout with a purpose. Glass field edges from the road and hunt fringe areas of your property. Make mental notes of how deer use the property, even when they are off in the distance. The more you learn about deer behavior, the better prepared you’ll be when hanging stands.
2. Analyze everything. An old-time carpenter’s saying states, “Measure twice; cut once.” The same idea rings true for whitetail scouting. Don’t place your tree stands merely in spots that look good. Spend time in the field and analyze everything while crouching down (to give you the perspective of a deer) when looking for stand sites. Pick spots that maximize natural camouflage, especially backdrops that provide cover even after leaves fall from the trees.
3. Be careful with shooting lanes. Avoid cutting obvious lanes, because mature deer will quickly notice the changes and avoid these areas in the future. Analyze each potential saw cut by asking yourself, “Is it really necessary?” The best shooting lanes are made by merely bending saplings around other trees and snapping off twigs and limbs that are already dead.
Will it happen for us this week? Who knows. But, just for good measure, my fingers (and toes) are crossed. Let’s see what’s in store for us on this kickoff to archery season!
This is Part 1 of a 5-part series that will run this week here at www.deeranddeerhunting.com.
THE MAH-MAH CALL
Doe and fawn calls are a little-known secret about hunting early season whitetails. Get yourself a Mah-Mah call from Woods Wise — the same call that Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt used to bag his first Pope-and-Young-class buck many years ago — and you too can enjoy better early season success. We have a limited supply in our store.