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Roux: Hunting early season bucks, part 2

  • Mike Roux finds early season bucks a bit easier to pattern before the rut kicks in.

    Mike Roux finds early season bucks a bit easier to pattern before the rut kicks in.
    Courtesy of Like Terstriep

By Mike Roux
updated: 10/11/2017 10:06 AM

Part 2 of two columns.

Picking up from last week. The characteristic of the deer to be in small bachelor groups in the early season can also aid you in your scouting practices. For the first few weeks in October, well-used trails and lots of signs is not conducive to finding bucks. Lots of tracks and lots of signs usually mean lots of deer, as female and young deer are still segregated from the bucks.

The shunning of the yearlings and the attraction between adults of the opposite sex has not yet begun. Buck hunters should look elsewhere.

Early season buck signs that can be counted upon are rubs, large tracks and large droppings. The downside is, finding this sparse sign could be a long procedure. Remember, food is their priority during this period. Begin your scouting at food sources and work your way toward bedding areas. Ambush points should be selected somewhere in between.

The heat that is often associated with a lingering summer can also play a key role in early season buck location. Hot, dry summers place a premium on water sources. Ponds, marshes, creeks and springs can all be very important in early hunts. If large bodies of water exist, like lakes or rivers, this becomes less of a factor. But if water is scarce, hunt it.

Try to establish in the preseason the deer pattern for using the watering site. Do they come in morning? Do they come in the evening or at night? Do male and female deer both use the spot? If so, do they use it at the same time?

All are questions, that when answered, can help you plan an early season strategy to get close to big bucks.

For all these same reasons, salt and mineral blocks can be important. Although some states have specific regulations about hunting directly over minerals, knowing when the bucks usually use them can help you choose a good spot to pick them off on the trail, a legal distance from the lick.

The deer's natural metabolic process causes them to need the minerals, especially salt. This not only improves the quality of the deer, but also helps the hunter to learn routinely used routes.

Another part the weather plays in early autumn is its unpredictability. If a sudden cold snap hits, the deer will move more to burn calories to stay warm. More movement means more food consumption, which in turn means more movement. Cool, blustery October days can be great deer hunting, just be ready for anything.

The reverse also holds true quite often. As mentioned earlier, some days in the early part of the season can be oppressively hot. Odor from perspiration must be factored into any hunts for big bucks. Just because the rut is still a few weeks away, does not mean that deer will not still react like deer. If they identify you with their noses, they are gone.

Using a scent locking system is highly recommended. Several companies now manufacture such garments. These clothes keep your scent-carrying molecules close to your body and out of the air. Care should still be taken because these items do not and cannot cover your entire body. Playing the wind is still your most reliable option.

Early season bucks can be found and the hunting can be exciting if you know what to look for. Since the deer can outrun you, out-smell you and out-hide you, your best weapon is your brain. They cannot outthink you. Be a smart hunter as the archery deer season opens and good luck.

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