A crown of white rose up out of the brambles, and I momentarily lost my breath as the rack came into view, followed by a dark brown body. It was the last night of my 2014 season and I watched as the beautiful 3.5-year-old, 10-pointer slowly fed across the field in front of me.

At almost any other time I’d be scrambling to grab my bow or gun and prepare for a shot, but my buck tag was already filled, and so I simply watched, enjoyed, and dreamed about what might come to be in the next year. And as the light faded away, I said goodbye to one season and hello to another.

Now that the most recent deer season is done for most of us, it’s not uncommon to fall into a bit of a deer hunting slump. We’ve been working our tails off over the past few months and we’re tired, cold, and a little worn out. Or at least I am. The natural tendency at this point is to move away from deer hunting for a while. Maybe enjoy some ice fishing, hunt small game, or just sit on the couch and watch football. And that’s all well and fine, except if you let that couch develop too deep an imprint. The 2015 season is here, and if we ignore that for too long, we very well might miss out on some of the most important opportunities we’ll have all year.

If you’re looking to make 2015 your best deer season yet, I’d challenge you to avoid pushing off deer hunting prep until July or August. Begin right now. Post-season scouting, trail camera surveys, shed hunting, acquiring hunting permission, staying physically fit, pulling tree stands, cleaning and organizing gear… The list of tasks to complete at this time of year could go on and on. But it’s important to remember that this work, these tasks, this long to-do list of seemingly menial items can often times be the difference between a punched tag and a bowl of tag soup.

I’ve come to find over the years that the secret to killing a big or mature deer isn’t some special tactic or fancy piece of gear. It’s much more simple than that. The secret is just to do the work. To actually check those items off your to-do list. To take care of those small details. To follow through on all the things you know you should do, but often don’t. And guess what? Now is the time to start.

Next season is here. The slate has been wiped clean. And anything is possible. You might kill the biggest buck of your life this fall. Or maybe you’ll accompany your young son or daughter on their first hunt. Or maybe you’ll make the biggest mistake of your hunting career, but then learn something life long from it. I don’t know what this year will hold for me either, maybe I’ll see that beautiful ten pointer again or maybe something different altogether will come to be. The only thing I can say for sure is that I’m excited for what’s to come, and I’m ready to get to work.