Friday, August 2, 2019

Opening Day is Closing In

Here in South Carolina, we are only 13 days away from opening day of deer season in some parts of the state. The traditional August 15th opening has a long history. Going back to the colonial period, August 15 has been the opening day of deer season in the coastal plain for centuries. No one really knows why this date was selected, but for the low country those traditions die hard.

Many of the areas where August 15 is the opening day also has a long tradition of running deer with dogs. The coastal plain of South Carolina is loaded with thick, impenetrable swamps these deer call home. And for much of the area, the dogs are used to push the deer from these thick confines and in front of waiting hunters.

Typically large blocks of timber are selected with standing hunters armed with shotguns and buckshot only are positioned to intercept deer trying to escape. The dogs are tuned loose on the opposite side of the block of timber and the deer attempt to escape the dogs who are chasing them.

Deer usually choose one of three methods to escape the dogs. They run very far ahead and try and escape often a half mile or more from the dogs. Others will stay right in front of the dogs and circle and circle and cross paths confusing the dogs scent trail and escape that manner and still others simply double back on the dogs and escape. Many of the biggest bucks are killed in this manner while they are doubling back on the dogs.

Having done this a few times, I must admit, it isn't my cup of tea. For me, it just sounds like a bunch of dogs barking in the woods.  I don't understand the excitement others gain from this kind of hunting. But I fully support their right to do so, as long as its legal.

Other hunters on opening day will pour into ag fields in the afternoons and wait for bucks to emerge for evening feeding. Summer patterns for bucks are very predictable. They have had no pressure for six or seven months and they are easy to pattern. Setting up downwind along a soy bean field almost feels like cheating it is so easy. Scouting these bucks a few weeks in advance will confirm they enter the field at the same location at the same time every day. Positioning your stand within range makes for a quick and easy kill.

For hunters who do not have the benefit of food plots or ag. fields, resorting to intercepting bucks along travel corridors is best during the early season while they are still in bachelor groups.

For one thing, you cannot hunt the early season and ward off the hordes of mosquito's without a ThermaCell. This one appliance has changed hunting forever. It actually allows you to hunt the early season and not cover yourself up with deet. It completely eliminates the need for bug spray.

The biggest challenge in hunting bucks in August is dealing with the heat. With temperatures often in triple digits with high humidity. Staying comfortable in stand is a real challenge. Several years ago, I began taking a small battery fan with me to the deer stand. This small 8" fan uses two "D" batteries and will run for 40+ hours on a set of batteries. The gentle breeze this fan makes is a game changer. It allows me to tolerate the heat. I have not noticed any ill effects from the fan. I have had deer within feet of the fan and they do not seem alarmed at all.

Another tip, is to bring frozen bottles of water with you. Placing the frozen bottle on your neck will lower your overall body temperature and help keep you cool. It also give you good cold water to drink as it melts.

Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough is hunting the wind. If you go into your stand in early season with the wrong wind, you are educating your herd quickly.

Personally, I avoid this part of the season. It is just too hot for me. I will wait until mid September into October to go. When the temperatures begin to drop, I get excited and want to go every day! I just cannot enjoy it when it is so hot.

But for those who cannot wait. Get out there and get after them. Keep us posted on how it goes and get you some velvet bucks.

Best of luck.

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