Winter: The Off-Season Archery Blueprint

Winter: The Off-Season Archery Blueprint

I've been a hunter for 30 years now, and there's no doubt my success rate has increased as the years have passed. I credit that to everything I've learned from more experienced hunters, as well as lessons gleaned from my own successes and failures.

As I continue to evolve as a hunter and seasoned competitive archer, I have also continued to refine what I see as my blueprint for success. It's a simple recipe I follow each year to make sure the next season is better than the last. In this article, I am going to share my blueprint and tell you how you can be at your best when hunting seasons open up again in August.




February is a great time of year to run trail cameras and take an inventory of deer that have survived hunting season and the cold winter weather.

February


Once February rolls around, it's time to take inventory! I am a firm believer in getting my Stealth Cam back on winter trails and food sources in my hunting areas. This is a great time to see what deer are still around and what you have to look forward to next season. Some people need motivation to make it through months of commitment. Well, here is your motivation. This inventory also is a building block for something we will do later in the year. So, don't neglect this!

What you may find is that after some of the mature deer in your area were taken out of the herd, there may be new ones moving in. Prime habitat will always house mature animals, and the natural pecking order in Mother Nature means that if one leader falls another will take its place. This is the time to learn that. Having your trail cameras out will also tell you when to start looking for shed antlers.


Last, if your state allows supplements for game animals then you should consider giving your herd nourishment during the toughest time of year. You can give your bucks a boost by giving them fuel just prior to growing season.

There is no better time to do off-season scouting than March. With spring green-up still a few weeks away, you can easily identify the most well-used deer trails.

March

March is when you check the sign and make moves. I really like this month, because the foliage is not quite popping with spring green and the game trails are well worn and very noticeable.

One mistake people make is only scouting right before hunting season. During that time, the noticeable travel routes are going to be to summer feed and crops such as soybeans or corn. Read the signs of the woods in March and it can show you the areas that had great travel that you may not have known about. Sometimes game trails slightly change without warning.

My experience is that food changes, deadfalls or washouts can shift travel routes, and if you don't know about it then you may have missed all the action by only a few hundred yards. I like to explore my timber and read these signs before the spring greenery hides it all. This is the time to mark some trees or adjust some climbing sticks to the new areas now in use. This is also a great time to look for sheds and pull those trail cameras, since the bucks will certainly have shed by now.

Look for more ways to rule the off-season in April and June, right here on Petersen's Bowhunting.

Recommended for You

Recipes

Venison Bao Buns Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Create your own fluffy, Chinese-style bao buns at home with this recipe! Fill them with...

Big Game

Elk Calling With the Experts

Tracy Breen

Learn how to lure wary bulls into bow range.

Gear

Resources to Get Started with Tree Saddle Hunting

Greg Staggs

Ready to saddle up? Here's where to start!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke's Bowhunting Treestand Set-Up Tips

Field Editor Bill Winke provides bowhunting treestand set-up tips that'll help make life easier when it's go time in the fall.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

How-To

4 Steps to Perfect Broadhead Flight

Bowhunting Online Staff

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane. Good...

ATA Show

New Mechanical Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show!

Bows

2019 Bowtech Launch: Realm SR6 & SS Review

Jon E. Silks - November 07, 2018

We got our hands on the brand new 2019 bows from Bowtech. See how the Realm SR6 and the Realm...

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

Scouting Public-Land Mountain Bucks

Beau Martonik

Are you up for the Appalachian whitetail challenge?

How-To

The Importance of Proper Nock Fit for Bowhunting

Levi Morgan

If you want to be the best archer you can be, you have to pay attention to the tiniest...

How-To

How to Bow-Kill a Buck at Ground Zero

Darron McDougal

Whether you've never killed a deer from the ground or had little success, there are several...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×