Great hunters hunt all year. We can only tag our harvest during the fall deer seasons, but the skills of hunting need to be addressed and fine-tuned year around. Everything from scouting, shooting, organizing, planning, property management, placing and maintaining stands, there is always something that needs attention.

Here are some important tips to keep you in the hunt!

Prune and blaze deer trails now.  Deer will normally travel along the easiest paths. Consider the location of your stand site and where the deer tend to travel. Each year nature drops limbs or trees along the traditional trails. Some may need to be cleared, while newly created paths could lead next years buck under your stand. Try pinching a single section of fence wires together so deer do not need to jump over. Deer will travel to this easy crossing over time. Prune now so that the deer get accustomed to the changes. Never do this pruning closer to hunting time.

Sight in your hunting weapons!

To be a better marksman, shoot more often. Keep your shooting skills sharp. Shooting precision is a perishable skill. Throw in your aging eyes, bumped scopes, new ammo, and a variety of other factors and you will find yourself missing the mark. Every weapon has its own personality. You need to stay familiar with them. That one perfect shot next fall is a result of many shots throughout the year.

Workout and get into hunting shape!

Age makes every hunting season a little harder. Joints don’t flex as easy, muscles weaken, fat builds up and we just get lazier. It takes months to get our bodies right. Try to exercise at least 3-5 times a week. Cardio is good but stay as flexy as you can get. Work your arms, legs and shoulders which help us hunt and shoot. Walking and swimming are wonderful ways to condition your body. Exercise bikes are also important. The goal is to be thinking about hunting and not your body when fall rolls around.

Scout your hunting areas or search for new ones now!

Knowing the seasons of your hunting area is important. Deer are predictable. Knowing the water, food, bedding, and protected areas is a huge advantage. You may also find sheds that will give you an introduction to what genetics may come your way next fall. Hiking around the hunting grounds will familiarize you with all aspects of the terrain. This will help you to plan when tracking a deer, dragging your kill, or placing future stands. Knowledge is power. Deer live there all year, the least you can do is to stay in touch.

Clean out your freezer!

Any wild game or fish in freezer storage longer than 6 months is a waste. Start planning your menus to use up the food you worked so hard to gather. Making room for summer produce and fish is the next thing you need to save. Most of us simply lose or forget what we have in the bottom of our freezer. Explore and enjoy!


Staying sharp by watching hunting videos, reading magazines, and books and being in touch with the land owners and hunting partners makes us more prepared. Learning various hunting scenarios and set ups expands our knowledge base and confidence. New products and gear adds to our bag of tricks. Back in the day, many hunters relied on the week of deer season to learn how to hunt. Mainly they hunted luck.

Food plots, salt and mineral licks, and antler growth supplements, where legal, can go out now.

This is the time when deer need something extra. They will use these feeds, minerals, and supplements until the end of summer. After that, they go to waste. Plan your food sources for when you want to hunt. Summer crops are fine but will be gobbled up well before later season hunting. Tubers, beets, and other in ground foods may be a better choice for your area. Research what works best and prepare now.

Hunting and other outdoor sports enhance our lives. It is not just about the meat. It is called “Hunting”, not killing. We can “Hunt” all year. What we do now will set the stage for what happens in the fall. Teaching others to master the sport is also fun. Taking children outdoors, showing friends skills and techniques, discussing tactics with your hunting peers makes everyone a better and more ethical hunter.

Hunt hard, hunt harder!

Montana Grant

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