With the first day of fall already passed, one often looks to cooler weather, pumpkins, and the changing colors of the leaves, not to mention cool sits in a tree stand while bowhunting.
I recently experienced unseasonable weather in my home state of Missouri; I woke every morning and immediately checked my hunting forecast on my Hunt Stand app. Sadly, the forecast eluded several days of temperatures in the mid-eighties to low nineties for a daily high. The truth is, during the early season, typically the last of September and into early October, the weather can still feel summer-like, no matter what season our calendar shows. Do not let the last hot days detour you from hunting; the bucks are still there.
A few years ago, I saw a mature buck regularly appear on my Stealth Cam Fusion cellular camera. Because his summer-like pattern was routine, I jumped at the chance to get in my tree stand when the wind direction was favorable, even with temperatures reaching nearly ninety degrees. To prevent bumping any deer out of the area, I was forced to get into my stand around 2:30 p.m., when the blistering sun was bearing directly down on me for the first couple of hours of being in my stand. When the sun finally made its way behind the tree line, my comfort level began to increase, and so did the deer movement. As planned, at 6:25 p.m., my hit list buck entered the field, then a short time later, presented me with a broadside shot at twenty-three yards. I made a successful shot on a mature, five-and-a-half-year-old buck. Although I had to do a speedy recovery and quick processing hours later due to the heat, I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.
Early-season bowhunting can often present much warmer temperatures than desired for deer hunters. However, summer patterns and bucks not yet thinking of the rut can produce some of the most significant hunting days when pursuing a mature buck. The question it comes down to is, how bad do you want it?
In The Field Scent Control
Of course, when hunting in hot weather, you are going to sweat more often, and you are going to stink fast. That is if you ignore scent control.
A complete regimen of scent control that features washing clothes in Scent-A-Way Detergent, showering with Scent-A-Way Soap and Shampoo, and spraying all hunting gear and your body with Scent-A-Way Odor Eliminating Spray is vital. A must to keep human scent under control—staying scent-free in the field while hunting becomes the most fundamental part of staying invisible to a deer’s nose in hot weather. When hunting hot weather, I often carry my Scent-A-Way Spray so that I can randomly spray down while in the stand to help eliminate any odors that have been created while sweating—another fantastic product to use while on the stand is the Scent-A-Way Field Wipes. The wipes help eliminate human odor from exposed skin, and the wet wipes can feel refreshing and cooling when forced to hunt in unseasonable warm weather. Paying attention to wind directions and the extra details of staying scent-free can help keep you invisible to a buck, even when he is in close range.
Last Minute Success
Sitting in the stand until the last minutes of the day is typical for the best deer movement during an evening hunt. During my mentioned hunt, I was hunting from the Hawk 20’ Big Denali 1.5-Man SLS Ladderstand; because of the larger seat and the extra comfort when sitting for extended periods, I was at ease, even in the higher temperatures. Hunting from a more comfortable tree stand or an elevated blind can help tremendously when trying to sit restfully until that last light when deer movement is often at its peak.
There are many reasons why peak deer movement occurs at the last light during the early season and on hotter days. The first reason is that deer are still commonly in their summer feeding patterns at this time. They feed during the last hour of daylight, then continue moving throughout the night before returning to their bedding area early the following day. The second is the most obvious: it is too hot! Deer move during the last few minutes of the day because it is much more comfortable for them to do so.
A Drink In The Shade
We have learned when to hunt and how to stay scent-free when bow hunting in hot weather. Now, let’s discuss the best early-season setup.
To be in the best scenario to shoot a mature buck, staying cool and comfortable remains the most critical factor when it is hot. However, it isn’t just about the hunter’s comfort level when getting a big buck into archery range. Deer need to be cool and comfortable, too, and finding a spot where that is most likely to take place will provide the best shot opportunities.
The ideal hot weather hangouts for mature bucks will be in wooded, shady areas where temperatures feel a bit cooler than when out in direct sunlight. The most ideal locations are in the bottoms of a deep ridge or underneath the heavier canopy of trees. Another excellent stand location for early season and hot weather is near a water source. A stand set up near a pond, creek, or river will more than likely produce a lot of deer movement when hunting. A mature buck may steer away from specific food sources or other areas where deer sign has been found. Yet, water is a must for survival, making a water source stand setup one of the best early-season hunts available.
In conclusion, hot weather should not deter dedicated bowhunters from pursuing their passion for chasing mature whitetail bucks during the early season. By prioritizing scent control, staying in the field until the last moments of daylight, and strategically positioning yourself near cool and comfortable deer hangouts, you can increase your chances of success even when the mercury rises. Bowhunting in hot weather may come with challenges, but as my experience has shown, the rewards can be well worth the effort. So, don’t let the heat keep you out of the woods; embrace the opportunity and make the most of those early-season days. After all, the pursuit of the elusive mature buck keeps us coming back, regardless of the weather.