A monster whitetail buck can leave evidence of his existence in an area as early as late February/early March when he sheds his antlers from the previous year. By the end of March and into early April, most bucks have lost their headgear and have started working on their new antler growth. Although it can sometimes be like “finding a needle in a haystack”, it never hurts to cure a little cabin fever from the winter and take a stroll on your hunting property to see if you can get lucky enough to find one side or in some cases, both sides.
Know where the water source is and find where they come to get a drink. If you are fortunate enough to have a creek or a river running through your property, scan the banks to find where the deer have a beaten down path leading up to the water. This would be an excellent spot to put a tree stand within about 15-20 yards of the trail as this is evidence that deer frequent that particular spot because it allows them easy access to the water. If you don’t have a water source on your property then you can create one by buying a fairly inexpensive outdoor pond and burying it. It will catch and hold rainwater, eventually deer will catch on and associate this as a place to get a drink when they are thirsty. Water sources are extremely essential for deer in early bow season when temperatures are still fairly warm in most regions of the United States.
Just like a water source, whitetails develop a pattern throughout the year with their eating habits. If you have woods on your property that is adjacent to a field full of crops, walk alongside the field about 20 yards inside the woods and look for a “funnel” of deer trails that come together and exit into the field. Deer are very cautious animals and have a main vantage point they typically use before entering an open area and becoming vulnerable to attack from predators. Deer are pretty routine during early archery season, they will usually feed in mid to late morning and evening until the rut begins. Find the funnel of trails and place your stand just off of it around 15-20 yards, also, allow yourself a clear line of sight toward the field and establish shooting lanes in that direction as well.
Early archery season can be rewarding if you take the time to learn the whitetail’s routine eating and watering habits. However, you must put in your time out of the woods as well. When you finally get that perfect shot, you certainly don’t want to wound the animal. Make sure your compound bow sights are finely tuned and you are hitting where your sight pin or cross hairs align with the target. If you can keep a group of arrows within an area the size of a paper plate, then you will have no trouble striking one of the vital organs and hopefully making it a quick, clean kill.