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October 9, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
It’s already June, the first six months of 2022 have flown by—and the next three months will do the same. Don’t let this fall season sneak up on you. Start thinking now about how you can best optimize your hunt in preparation for opening day by completing these six summer check list tasks for fall hunt prep!
Summer is when you need to stick to the three “Ps,” plant, plot and prepare. Getting your food plots planted and ready for fall hunt season starts now, and this includes ensuring that you take care of proper pre food plot weed control. Once that’s done, other natural (and enticing) food sources and habitat preparation for deer needs to be considered.
Ask yourself questions such as, does the forest canopy on your land provide openings that allow vegetation growth? Do you have access to native wildflower seeds to be planted for deer forage? These two easy solutions make a great addition to traditional food plot management and improve the overall habitat health of your land.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re probably already an iSportsman user. Congratulations, a lot of your fall hunt preparation is now a one-stop-shop process. Depending on where you recreate, and whether you use the iSportsman GX or iSportsman ARX service, buying permits, registering for lotteries, completing safety briefing requirements and reviewing or downloading maps is mostly likely all available through your iSportsman account.
iSportsman GX has been offering detailed area-spatial maps through Avenza for over a year. While some maps require a one-time fee for download, they can be accessed offline ensuring that you aren’t reliant on cellular service when it matters.
If you’re preparing to hunt on your own land, then creating the boundary and managing the features of your hunting grounds is possible through your iSportsman ARX account. Either way, long gone are the days of pen and paper and detailed map dissection.
Though safety briefings are available through iSportsman, other safety preparations fall on your shoulders—especially if you’re hunting on your own land or opening up your land for others to enjoy. Total land safety prep includes things such as checking the structural integrity of your blind boxes and treestands.
If you’ve left your stand up all summer, take it down and inspect the frame for rust or damage. Replace worn or weathered straps. Test the integrity of your treestand by mounting it low on a tree and getting in and out of it.
And most importantly for every hunter, it’s time to get back into the habit of attaching your safety harness to your stand properly while you practice accessing the stand. Treestand Safety Month coincides with the start of the season, because that’s when cases of treestand-related injuries tend to spike. Be smart and don’t become a statistic.
For those without their own land to hunt on, this is probably the most important step. All the preparation in the world will fall short if you can’t be in the right place at the right time. To find a place to hunt, you may check to see which iSportsman GX areas allow public access. Or you can browse the iSportsman ARX opportunities page for available hunts.
There are still a number of traditional methods worth using to find that magic place to hunt as well. Talk to local landowners, check Craigslist and other outdoor sites with classifieds for lands available for lease or hunt clubs looking for members. Get involved with a conservation group, volunteer and get to know other hunters who might know of opportunities.
Drive and find properties that aren’t already posted and then check county property maps at the county office, on the county website or on an app that features property boundaries and owner information. Then politely reach out to the owner and make your pitch.
As for scouting, particularly for deer, review your own personal records and if you don’t have any, start keeping them (this is where ARX really helps out). Deer are creatures of habit, and provided food sources and the terrain and vegetation remain the same as past years, they tend to show up in the same places year after year. The place where you snagged last season’s most impressive shot will likely be near your best place to start this fall.
Using apps such as iSportsman ARX by entire clubs or lease members may allow you to see where most harvests took place the previous year as well as which areas get the most pressure during the season. Look for those places where suitable habitat (i.e. food or bedding areas) intersect with the least amount of hunt pressure and you may have found a sanctuary that will be holding your next trophy.
Summer is also a great time to hang new trail cameras and replace or check the power source and SD card of existing ones on your property. As part of scouting efforts, checking your cam footage now could be a helpful indicator of what kind of fall hunt you can expect.
If you’re an ARX user, all cell-enabled tree cam footage can be sent directly to your smartphone through your ARX account, simplifying the review process dramatically.
By now you’ve set up your land, got your permits, found a spot and ensured your safety. The last steps are to practice your shot and check your gear. Any skill gets rusty when not in use, now is the time to take your firearm or bow to a range and practice as often as you can.
And while you’re inspecting (and cleaning) your weapon of choice, ensuring you have proper ammo and that it is in good condition, it’s also a good time to check the rest of your hunting gear. Starting now gives you time to track summer sales and research what products best fit your needs.