7 early-season secrets for hunting big bucks

First dibs

Instead of waiting for the rut, hunt big bucks in the early archery season


To reach each of your stands, carefully select a hidden route through the timber or a low-lying sheltered area, such as a ravine. Trim away any branches that might snap or brush against your gear, or, worse yet, poke you in the eye. That way, you can ensure a quiet approach as you sneak in to your stand an hour before daybreak. You can wear a small headlamp to help find your way in the gloom, but don’t look up and broadcast your presence.

Never select a route where deer might be feeding during the pre-dawn, and don’t pop out of your stand in the evening if deer are within sight, even if they’re just does. Instead, wait for them to leave—there’s no need to educate them about your presence. If a doe learns about your ambush site, she’ll be wise enough not to lure a rutting buck past it in the weeks that follow.

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