Plan Now For Next Season's Whitetail Trophy

With a little planning and hard work, you can create your own luck on whitetails.

For me, preparing for my past archery season began January 1, literally. I was determined to improve my hunting odds in the New Year. I scouted hard, found new hunting areas, picked new stand locations, and cleared shooting lanes. By February I had a dozen new stand sites. And in addition to these new hot spots on four farms, I added a couple of mineral licks and made plans for some food plots.

By March I'd begun soil preparations for some spring planting. I'd found some open land on each of the farms. Many landowners have abandoned fields they're glad to see kept clear of unwanted brush. And on working farms it's often possible to get permission to plant small strips or corners that are not being used by the farmer. (Be sure to let the farmer know your intentions.) Food plots like these aren't just for the deer either; they benefit other wildlife, too. I consider March to be the second best time of the year to plant perennials such as clover and alfalfa (the best time is early fall), but it's a great time to plow or disk in preparation for late spring planting. I wanted to sow a variety of plants that would supply beneficial forage throughout the year. After consulting the professionals at Southern States farm supply, I decided to plant clover and some sericea lespedeza in March, and then a mixture of cowpeas, soybeans, sorghum, and Japanese millet in early May.

By midsummer my hours of research and work already had begun to pay dividends as I had the opportunity to observe many does, fawns, and velvet-racked bucks foraging on the protein-rich food plots. Next it was time to screw in some EZY Climb treesteps and hang my favorite treestands. With that done, I then stayed out of the woods until it was time to hunt.

ON OPENING DAY, I headed home from work early. In preparation for my first hunt, I showered with unscented soap, dressed in lightweight camo, put on my rubber boots, and sprayed down with scent eliminator spray. The stand I planned to hunt had been in place for over 3 weeks now, and the area had not been disturbed. I wanted to do everything right today. Following an old logging road I quickly approached the stand from downwind and climbed up to 25 feet. A heavily worn trail passed below my stand, and I could faintly see the edge of a food plot 60 yards away. As I relaxed in the 80-degree temperature, I began to feel myself slowly transforming into the hunter waiting for this prey.

At 6 p.m. I heard the sound of running deer in a pine thicket some 80 yards to my left. Although I figured a doe and fawn were heading for the food plot, I slowly removed my Mathews from the bow holder and clipped on my release aid onto the string. Indeed, my first deer sighting of the season proved to be a spotted fawn. With the bow lying on my lap, I remained relaxed, as I was sure the next deer to approach would be the fawn's mother.

But I couldn't have been more surprised. A long main beam sporting five tall, dark tines caught my eye first. My heart instantly kicked into high speed as a wave of adrenaline rushed through my body. I stared intensely, not fully believing what I was seeing. As I sat motionless, the monster buck moved forward and I got a better look at his huge 9-point rack. Now only 30 yards away and quartering to me, this seasoned veteran of the woods would surely detect any movement I made. Minutes seemed like hours as the buck nibbled on leaves and watched the fawn prance toward my food plot. Constantly alert, the buck finally moved into my shooting lane, and in the flash of a Rocket-tipped Beman shaft, all of my hard work was rewarded.

Not being able to see the hard-hit buck through all the dense foliage, I elected to wait on stand for 45 minutes. I then returned to the truck where I met up with my coworker and hunting companion, Tony Wyrick. After a few minutes of excited storytelling, we retrieved a Coleman gas lantern from my 4x4 and quickly located the big buck, which later netted 136 P&Y inches. He'd fallen only 40 yards from where I'd made the shot and was proof positive that you really can plot a trophy whitetail.

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