Think of your opening day hunt as a Google Earth search: Whether you’re after whitetail deer, elk, antelope, or other game, begin with the big picture and work your way down to the arrow’s release. Houston, we have launch in:
10. Locate game by general scouting. Use trail cameras, binoculars, and spotting scopes to locate where the big ones live. Talk to the mail carrier, UPS driver, hikers, and farmers about game they may have seen.
9. Learn the lay of the land. Before you put boots on the ground, know the boundaries, the prevailing winds, where crops have been planted, and places that will make good bedding.
8. Select multiple stands. The best time to hunt a stand is the first time, and hunting your best stand when the wind is wrong can be a huge mistake. Select stands for wind direction and morning or evening potential.
7. Test all of your equipment, especially broadheads. Be sure your bow is tuned, you can cock your crossbow consistently, your tree stands are secure, and you can handle your safety harness in the dark. Make sure your strings are waxed and rails lubed.
6. Do a sound check. Use your cell phone and record your release. If the sound is sharp and abrupt, consider string leaches, a sound-reducing stabilizer, and other sound-reducing gear.
5. Hang your gear outside. Scent-elimination gear works from the inside out, and allowing your outer layer to smell like the woods is a great idea. Use a backpack like a desk organizer, with specific gear in specific pockets. Store your gear in a plastic tub on the way to the hunt.
4. Take a shower. Use scent-elimination soaps and be sure you’re as clean as possible before you leave. Be sure to fill your gas tank the night before the hunt so there are no last-minute scent bombs.
3. Arrive early. Whether evening or morning, arrive earlier than you think necessary. Sitting in a stand and waiting for first light is pure heaven, and afternoon stands can be successful before prime time.
1. Stalk your stand. Finally, approach your stand quietly and as downwind as possible. It’s worth walking an extra half mile not to scent-spook the area you’re hunting. Arrive quietly, ascend silently, hook up your harness, and let the magic happen. Good luck!