Professional Pre-Season Planning

There is a lot of pressure for professional outfitters and guides to keep their clients on top-heavy bucks throughout the season. Return business can really fall to the wayside if hunters are not shooting or at least seeing deer on a consistent basis. In order to be successful, you have to be willing to go the extra mile, work extremely hard, scout like there is no tomorrow, and take your pre-season planning to a whole new level. With that being said, let's take an inside look at how outfitters and guides utilize pre-season planning to create and setup red hot stand locations for the fall. Follow this professional plan and you'll be able to transform your favorite hunting location into a target rich environment on opening day.

Add Teaser Plots
Over the years, Jarod Jackson of Illinois Ohio Valley Trophy Hunts has been consistently putting his hunters on monster bucks. One of the secrets to his success is to grow small teaser food plots within isolated patches of protective cover near much larger feeding areas. Typically, most trophy bucks that have survived a few seasons are not going to risk visiting open agricultural fields during the daylight hours. Instead, the big boys will stick tight to the thick cover until after dark to enter these locations, which completely eliminates shot opportunities. However, using lightweight ATV farming attachments or simply a rake to clear off small sections of ground inside of protective areas can help tease a monster into a shooting lane. The trick is to grow some type of teaser plot like a shade tolerant clover in these locations to pull bucks off the bed before dark. This sneaky strategy has enabled Jackson to keep his hunters on shooter bucks during the early segments of season.

Create Watering Holes
Another high-impact strategy that Jackson relies on during the pre-season is to create small watering holes near big buck bedding areas or ideal ambush points. It doesn't take too much time or work to fix a really good watering hole in locations that a veteran buck will feel safe using during the daylight hours. In fact, all you really need is a shovel and some careful planning to create the perfect early-season pre-rut hunting stand. This technique can be lethal during periods of extremely hot weather or droughts. It's amazing how much wildlife activity a secluded watering hole can receive on a daily basis. In the past, I've personally used this strategy and have observed large flocks of turkeys, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, and deer hitting my manmade watering holes. However, the key times to encounter bruiser bucks seem to be during the mid-morning to early afternoon hours when temperatures begin to climb. Even bucks with strict nocturnal schedules can't wait until dark to grab a cool drink when the heat is cranked up on a smoking hot day. What are you waiting for? Right now is the perfect time to get the ball rolling with both of these professional pre-season planning strategies in your own hunting area. These two tips can undoubtedly bring you one step closer to taking down a giant pre-rut buck during the opening weeks of season.

  • Travis Faulkner