All over New England the rifle and/or shotgun deer seasons are just about to open. In Maine the season begins this coming weekend. The Vermont season gets under way Nov. 10, New Hampshire starts Nov. 14 and in Massachusetts the opening day is Nov. 26. Thousands of men and women will be searching the woods for the elusive whitetail in an annual rite that is the highpoint of their hunting year.
It has been my experience that my success in the field is directly tied with my preparation for it. If you want to increase your chances to harvest a really nice whitetail deer this fall, there are a number of things you can do right now to make that happen. These fall into two basic areas.
Where are the deer?
No matter where you hunt, in the wiles of Maine or the tight woods of the North Shore, the same basic question has to be asked. Where are the deer? This question can only be answered through observation. This means you have to get into the field BEFORE deer season.
In the fall the woods are a wonderful place to take the kids for a walk. They can roll in the leaves, get wet in a brook, or chase a squirrel through the underbrush. While this is happening, poke along slowly and look for sign: a runway, a wild apple tree, a notch through which deer must pass from bed to breakfast, a rub, etc. Make it a game. Reward them with a piece of hard candy if they find a deer print.
Once you have found where deer have been moving, try to get the sense of frequency. Is this just the single track of a wandering browser, or a commonly used runway that may have constant traffic. If the answer is the latter, you have found a good spot.