Opening Weekend Deer Hunting Strategy | Hunting Maps
Your deer rifle is sighted in, the chili is made, and the truck is packed – the only thing that stands between you and deer camp is one last nagging work day. Group text messages to your deer camp crew get you through the week and before long your immersed in the traditions of deer camp as the old timers spew their favorite hunting stories over a friendly hand of cribbage. Uncle Bill busts out his new gun to show the gang, while grandpa pulls out the latest and greatest estrous scent wick that’s sure to bag him the big one on opening day. Amongst the get together and camaraderie, one thing that might slip through the cracks a bit is where everybody plans to hunt on opening day. Sure, many folks have their go-to spots and they won’t change even if the wind says so, but wouldn’t it make for a more successful deer camp if everybody was on the same page and not unknowingly ruining other camp members hunts? Yep, you got it, it’s time to bust out the map!
First off, every deer hunting camp should have a printed hunting map as a mainstay on the wall next to the mounts, of course. If your camp doesn’t have one handy for this year, not all is lost, as a computer or phone screen will get you through this year with the HuntStand App. But in the future, get a mega map for deer camp. Heck, they make for a perfect Christmas gift and we can guarantee it will be the most talked about art piece at camp. After all, who doesn’t like a gift they can use too?
Mapping Out Your Opening Weekend Stands
With opening weekend having more to do with camaraderie than actual hunter success, it’s not uncommon to see an entire hunting party stacked into one small piece of private hunting ground for the weekend. Anticipation is sky high on the drive in, but after the first two hours of a “no deer” sit they start to dip pretty rapidly. You’re not sure what’s going on. By this time last year you saw a dozen deer before tagging out at 9:45 am. The sign is still there and the rub line is hot, but there’s just no deer. Is it the weather? Nah, it’s the same temperature as last year. Instead, you chalk up the unsuccessful sit to a poor moon phase and a trickle rut. C’mon man! We all know the rut happens the same time of year. Did you ever care to look at the wind direction and all of its effects?
Keeping the wind in mind, it’s not just your own scent you should be taking into consideration, but also the scent of the other hunters in camp. While you’re wind might be fine, your cousin Johnny who’s sitting 300 yards away is compromising your hunt. When hunters are stacked four or five deep per 100 acres, it’s almost inevitable that another hunter will be impacting your hunt in some way, shape, or form. Every piece of hunting property is different, but regardless, there’s always going to be one wind direction that sets up better and allows more hunting opportunities with minimal disturbance. Maybe your property hunts better on west wind, while the neighbor’s hunts best with the exact opposite wind due to the main bedding being right along the property line. But really, who’s not going to hunt opening weekend because the wind isn’t right for their property? Yeah, nobody – tradition trumps everything. Speaking of neighbors, don’t underestimate their ability to ruin one of your favorite stands – knowingly or unknowingly. Once again, the map is the holy grail of deer camp.
Map out each hunters location and their proposed access route and look at how each wind direction impacts everyone’s hunt. Here’s where the mobile or desktop version of HuntStand really comes in handy with the HuntZone feature. With the HuntZone option, you can see every marked stand’s scent cone and the impacted areas on the aerial map – best of all, on top of displaying the current wind direction, HuntZone has a toggle feature to show the affected zones 72 hours out based on the forecasted winds! This should be plenty of time for you and your deer camp comrades to plan out your hunts.
In addition to using the HuntZone feature, use some common sense when entering and exiting stands. In a perfect world we would be able to teleport into our tree without disturbing a thing. Maybe that’ll be a HuntStand option in 2218, but it sure as heck isn’t now. Using trucks and UTV’s to get dropped off as close as possible is one way to minimize the lasting ground scent and disturbance going in, but it also creates some unwanted noise. Depending on how frequently vehicles are seen and heard driving around your hunting property, deer can either be conditioned to them or they might run like hell from just the sound of an engine turning over. If they are conditioned to them, it’s a good practice to carpool in with other hunters as to leave as minimal amount of “run for your life” disturbance as possible. If you have to walk, the shortest route usually isn’t always the best. Again, take into consideration the expected bedding areas, in addition to other hunter locations and try to plan out a sound route. It may mean walking around an area versus straight through it, but it’ll be worth it if you avoid bumping that big buck out of that tiny swamp bedding patch.
Mapping Out Deer Drives
In some parts of the county, deer drives aren’t just a way to harvest deer, they are a way of life. From two to three person drives on up to organized militia like marches, this time honored tradition relies upon one serious game plan. Enter the map, a.k.a the hunters playbook. From drawing up routes for pushers to take on the deer drive to showing exactly where a draw pinches down requiring a member to post up, maps are an unmistakable playbook that guarantee every hunter is on the same page. No longer are the days of old uncle Jack pointing and waiving aimlessly as to illustrate to everyone what the plan is. Be the wise guy and pull out the map on the tailgate. A map is the best tool to ensure everyone is on the same page for both safety reasons and overall success. After all, nobody wants to be the guy that let a big buck slip by because they were posted up in the wrong spot or worse yet, having the unthinkable happen to one of your own. Stay safe, map it out.
Using a Map to Ensure a Safe Hunt
It’s easy to forget about the importance of safety when a big buck is on the mind or worse yet, running by on a deer drive, but it’s no small matter when it comes to gun deer seasons. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them or their camp, but accidents are called accidents for a reason. Understanding where others are hunting makes it easy to see where a questionable shot might come into play. Not only that, but with a detailed aerial map, you may notice a building or blind on the neighbors property that you had no idea was there or that close. By marking out treestands, blinds, and buildings on a map, you’ll be able to shoot safely and enjoy deer camp for generations to come. You see, a camp map is imperative for a safe and successful hunt. Who knew a printed piece of canvas could be so valuable?