With August around the corner, there are some great opportunities to find your next buck. Continuing my year around approach series of articles, here are 5 tips for August that will help you consistently kill big whitetail bucks:
- Summer Glassing Continues!
Like July, August continues to be a great opportunity to get eyes on your next buck! Antlers are about fully developed by now and you’ll really have a feel for what shooters you have to target. Testosterone levels remain low and keep bucks visible. Watch the middle of this month for a great time to glass as the moon will be peaking overhead in the evening hours. This is the best time to find them out in daylight. Here’s a link to a sample moon chart I look at for my home area of Kalamazoo. You might try flying a drone over a secluded field that would otherwise be tough to access without spooking the deer! Our pro staffer, Steve Pinkston, has been having some really cool results with this with his Phantom 3 drone and 4K camera.
The older a buck gets, the more his core area tends to shrink. He’s obviously found a way to survive that’s working for him, so he’ll continue to do this as long as you let him. Pay very close attention to where a buck enters a field and WHY. What is the wind doing? Where was he likely bedded and why? Is that spot approachable come hunting season (it’s often not)? You have to really study a buck’s movements and analyze his every move in order to get little pieces of the puzzle put together. Sometimes his movements now correlate with the fall, especially on small parcels where he doesn’t have a lot of options.
In August, crops are well established. You should have a good idea on what kind of corn, acorn, and bean crops are in your area. Take notes on who has the best crops and why. You can bet the best bucks will find them. Talk to farmers about planned harvests. All of this will come into play when planning out the timing of your hunts. And don’t forget to journal your scouting trips by filming!
- Gear Check
Now’s the time to check and repair or replace your gear if needed. Go through all your treestands and climbing sticks, screw-ins, etc and make sure the materials are good. Tighten buckles, bolts, nuts, etc as needed and replace them if you have to. Practice with any new harnesses, stands, and other gear now so you’re more familiar with it when it’s time to hunt. The new gear that you may have seen early in the year at tradeshows is going to start hitting the shelves. One way to beat the heat on a 90°, humid summer day is to visit an air conditioned hunter’s oasis like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops!
- Pre-Hanging Stands
If I’m going to pre-hang some spots, I might do it in August during a rainstorm. Leaving stands hang all summer brings a higher risk of rodents chewing straps, tree growth tightening stands too much, and just general wear that’s not necessary if you wait. Hopefully, you’ve already trimmed your spots in the spring and now can just be a few final tune-ups, but wait until you have rain so you’re not scenting up your future hotspots. I’d wait until late in the month too. But remember, don’t scout and hang your spots based on where you’re seeing bucks right now. Overall, though, I still recommend hang-n-hunts with a climbing stick and hang on stand system like XOP Treestands and Climbing Sticks.
- Keep Practicing
Don’t forget to keep shooting! This goes for your rifle too, if you’re a gun hunter. Sight your guns in, practice your bows, and picture the moment of truth before it’s in front of you. Something that will help your targets last longer is bring them into your garage or cover them up when not in use. The sun can really shorten the lifespan of a target if you leave it out in the weather all the time.
- Check Your Regs
Usually by August your state’s hunting regulations will be set for fall. Use this time to review changes for the coming season. I see there is no antlerless archery for the western Upper Peninsula and the first case of CWD in a free range deer in Michigan was found a few months ago so there are a few counties being affected by that. Don’t be ignorant, make sure you read over the regulations for wherever you’re hunting this fall because something may have changed.
- Bonus Tip: Food Plots
Because of my back issues in June, I missed my window to plant more soybeans this year. So, I’m going to be doing a fall annual planting around August 15th. I’ve had good luck with a few different things over the years at my place, but the deer just don’t seem to like turnips where I’m at! So, I’m planting a variety this year to test out what might be best. I’ll be putting in a few different things such as Frigid Forage’s Autumn Quick Plot, Big & Beasty (also Frigid Forage), Real World Wildlife Seed’s Plot Topper and Harvest Salad, and maybe something from Killer Food Plots. I may also do some Buck Forage Oats and another home brew I’d used a few years back (more on that later). I’ll start with a spraying of Roundup this weekend, along with a soil test.
Mistakes to Avoid in August
Remember, the bucks you see in August are different animals than you’ll be hunting later in the fall. When testosterone levels and food sources change, the game changes. That said, don’t think that spooking bucks now won’t have an impact. Remain careful in your entries and exits when glassing. The less you can disturb them, the better chance you have of patterning them. Trail cameras and mineral or corn is also a good way to get inventory on what’s around to hunt, but be smart about checking cameras and avoid placing them in spots you’ll actually be hunting.
Good luck locating your next buck! I’d love to hear comments below about what you do in August to work towards that next buck!