By Brooke Shirley
Get your feeders full and your guns loaded because it’s time to go hunting! Usually, the rut is considered the best time to take a nice buck, but early season can be quite productive as well. Hunters who know how to identify early season deer hunting patterns and where to hang stands are typically quite successful during the first few days of season.
Deer are slaves to their stomach and will generally be on their feet to feed every six to eight hours. Early fall is a very critical time of year for whitetails as they are packing on weight to make it through the rut and upcoming winter.
The first thing that I think of each year is, “Oh, I’ve got to put some corn out on my trails to bait them in close to my stand!” When actually, there is an abundance of natural food sources during the early part of the deer season that hinders the effectiveness of food plots. In most cases deer will feed on other food sources before hitting food plots. Hunters can save their money, corn, and rice bran for later in the season when most of the plants have died and the deer are actively “hunting” for food themselves.
In many areas, live and pin oaks are popular among deer, as they generally start hitting the ground around late September. Soybeans, of course, are also quite popular with deer. If they are ripe, muscadines and persimmons are a sweet treat that deer really seem to enjoy. If you happen to know where to locate these food sources, I recommend setting up a stand nearby.
Finding sources of water are a good way to pattern deer for the early season. Since temperatures are generally warmer earlier in the season, hydration is an important factor in a healthy whitetail. A deer can extract up to 90 percent of the water needed to survive from the vegetation in their diet, but finding an isolated water sources in drier conditions can prove to be successful.
Be sure to check creeks, small ponds, lake edges and even standing water puddles for deer sign. If it looks like the sources is being utilized, place a stand nearby and get ready.