Early openers tighten schedule
I can’t believe September is almost gone. Usually the first week or two of this first month of fall I relax a little and do a little scouting for the upcoming deer season. This year, however, I feel a little puckered up because the New York bow season opens on Oct. 1 in the Southern Zone and, in Pennsylvania where I also hunt, the season opens even earlier, on Sept. 29. Normally, I have two weeks between season openers but not this year. To complicate matters, my wife and I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a friend in the south of France the last week of September. This means we won’t get back until both archery seasons are a week old.
Normally, I have my stands set at least two weeks prior to opening day, but now I have to begin scouting much earlier than I normally do. I’m not optimistic about my best hunting spots because they're located near some wild apple trees and the hard freeze we had here last spring – after the blossoms came out – all but wiped out this fall’s fruit crop. This is where diligent scouting is of paramount importance. It’s not rocket science to figure out deer have to eat, and the apples were a natural draw. But now the trick is to find what they are eating on both of the properties I hunt. The Pennsylvania property is still a dairy farm but the aging farmer no longer plants a single grain of corn, opting instead to purchase rather than to grow it. The New York property is also devoid of apples, but in past years the oaks and their acorns came to the rescue. It remains to be seen how the acorn crop has fared. No matter. I’ll be hunting the day after we get back regardless of how bad things may look because I’ve taken the time to find a productive oak tree and already set my stands and brushed them in. I’ll know what I missed because I’ve also set several trail cameras to see what showed up while I was gone. The rest of my gear is laid out and ready for the day after we get back.
I may be swilling wine and wiping the brie from my chin while slurping down escargots in Provence, but it will be killing me to know other hunters will be in their stands bow at the ready. Make no mistake, on Oct. 1 my heart will be in the deer woods.