Skip to main content

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.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt in a truly target-rich environment.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek sets up for some hog and whitetail hunting at Canyon Ranch in Texas.

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Take your hang-and-hunt to the next level with a Trophyline Tree Saddle. Look to Tree Saddle Hunting for Fall Success Treestands & Blinds

Look to Tree Saddle Hunting for Fall Success

Brian K. Strickland

Take your hang-and-hunt to the next level with a Trophyline Tree Saddle.

Don't ruin your chances of tagging a big buck this fall.Late-Summer Scouting Mistakes to Avoid How-To

Late-Summer Scouting Mistakes to Avoid

Tony J. Peterson

Don't ruin your chances of tagging a big buck this fall.

This venison kebabs recipe marinates for a full day to take the already flavorful Asian bulgogi sauce to the next level.Grilled Korean Bulgogi Venison Kebabs Recipe Recipes

Grilled Korean Bulgogi Venison Kebabs Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

This venison kebabs recipe marinates for a full day to take the already flavorful Asian...

As a bowhunter, you need complete faith in your physical ability to hike in to your hunting ground, stalk your prey, pull your bow stealthily and pack out your animal. That means it's essential to train for your hunt.10 Workout Routines Every Bowhunter Should Master How-To

10 Workout Routines Every Bowhunter Should Master

Adam Holt

As a bowhunter, you need complete faith in your physical ability to hike in to your hunting...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

You'll likely have to deal with a lack of destination food sources on public land. Summer Deer Scouting on Public Land Scouting Tools

Summer Deer Scouting on Public Land

Tony J. Peterson

You'll likely have to deal with a lack of destination food sources on public land.

New year, new look at your whitetail groundSummer Scouting from Scratch How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

Experience your best shooting by following this three-pronged approach.3 Steps For Shooting Accuracy and Confidence How-To

3 Steps For Shooting Accuracy and Confidence

Joe Bell

Experience your best shooting by following this three-pronged approach.

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges.How to Hunt Whitetails in Open Country How-To

How to Hunt Whitetails in Open Country

Joe Blake

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges.

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now