The Author with his first archery buck and his son, Jeremiah, at 2 yrs. of age.
Making the move from Missouri to Northeast Florida meant leaving behind 35 years of scouting and dozens of productive stands.
We are basically starting from scratch.
Fortunately, within thirty minutes of my home there are over 300,000 acres of public land.
We have spent a couple of seasons scouring these areas but have barely scratched the surface.
Currently, we have around six solid stand sites located.
Three of them have produced a buck already.
Being public land hunters we are always looking for a sweet deal and Florida’s limited entry hunts have been the answer to our prayers.
With the annual lottery behind us, lady luck has given us several successful draws.
Now, we are looking at how to capitalize on our good fortune.
When it comes to draw hunts here in FL you take what you’re given or turn it back in for a preference point.
I’d rather have a rut hunt but my first quota hunt is for mid-September. This definitely qualifies as an early season hunt.
Rather than turn it back in, I have decided to join the “skeeter fest” and tough it out.
The only good news is that the hunt is on a 23,000 acre WMA right across the street from my house that has produced some nice bucks, including a 168” trophy with 11” brow tines – a genuine giant for North Florida.
Since the area is close I might be able to devote a little more time to scouting.
I like to dream big but I’m also a realist.
We have three days to put a buck on the ground and then the quota hunt is over.
That’s a very tought assignment. I don’t care who you are or how much experience you have, harvesting a buck in just three day of hunting is extremely difficult, especially in the early season.
Currently, we have a camera out in a new location and we are going to check it out next week.
One peculiarity I have noticed about the deer here in FL is that you don’t see them out in the fields at dusk or dawn much.
The bucks we have killed here all have dark chocolate antlers.
This can mean they don’t spend a lot of time in the open where the sun bleaches them out.
We don’t have a green plot or feeders so it’s down and dirty, “a la natural.”
We hang our cameras in areas selected because of topographical features and old sign.
So how am I going to plan for this 3-day hunt?
I’m open for suggestions but here are a few thoughts running through my head.
I like to focus on the following items for early season hunting.
1. G is for Green.
Many guys are currently making their food plots.
We all know early season bucks are focused on food.
There are no food plots on my local WMA but there are adjacent private lands with hayfields and power lines.
I’ve picked an area and I’m going to focus on it because of the fields nearby.
2. C is for Creek.
The weather will be hot and the creek bottoms will be the coolest places around.
Drainages also serve as travel corridors and there is a major creek just east of these hayfields.
I’m going to assume a buck will be bedding back on the government – hopefully deep enough I can get a crack at him.
3. E is for Edge.
To be honest, almost all the edges in the area I have chosen are on private land.
There are only two areas where it might be possible to hunt the edge on public land, according to Google earth.
I will have to check out the boundary lines on foot.
4. T is for Team.
The great thing about quota hunts in FL is that you can take a buddy.
I just happen to know a great deer hunter with the same last name as mine and it never seems to take a lot of arm twisting to get him to go hunting with me.
We’re going to spread out and double our exposure
He will be hunting an entirely different area.
A wise man one said “Two are better than one…”
It will be like getting six days to hunt instead of three.
Every dad knows that when his son kills a buck it’s as good as if you killed it yourself – that’s a fact!
We will keep you posted on what we do each week leading up to this hunt and of course update you on how the actual hunt goes.
Wish us luck!
Question: How many weeks are left until your archery opener? What are you doing this week to prepare? What advice would you have for fellow readers concerning early season hunting? Please leave a comment below or by clicking here.
Keep it Simple – J