Preparations for Upcoming Season

 

By Dave Klimtzak

 

PREP NOW FOR FALL SUCCESS

As we enter the later part of summer, it is time to put all of our field plans together for the
fast approaching hunting season. Ready or not, it’s time to get the wheels in motion. It’s
best to start your prep work earlier in the year, but it’s never too late. We all have
different schedules, responsibilities and commitments. Personally, I am in the field
preparing year round, but not everyone has that availability at this time in their life.

Just recently we had the weather cool down in our area, which allowed for a perfect
opportunity to jump in the woods and work on stands and trimming projects. (Unfortunately, we can’t
count on cool downs; at times we need to just get out there and get it done.) I learned this a few
years back, when my hunting partner E.J. acquired a new property to manage and hunt in
Oklahoma. He invited me down to assist on setting a plan together to help him set stands,
trim trees, place cameras, and set entry and exit strategies. It sure sounded like a lot of
fun, but in reality it was a ton of hard work. In the month of August, there is no such thing as a “cool down” in
Oklahoma. With temperatures in the upper 90s and the extremely high humidity, the
word “fun” did not seem to come to mind. Between the ticks, chiggers, and the poison oak,
it was a grand old event, but the trip was a great success. We set several stands and did our trim work, which all contributed to a successful fall season.

The bottom line here is that there is no perfect time to get our field prep work
complete. In fact, it’s an ongoing process. Do it when you can, but I would recommend getting your 2013
fall field projects done now as the fall season is fast approaching.

 

THE PLANNING PROCESS

Information, data, observations, and conversation are key elements of putting together a
well thought out plan of attack for your upcoming fall season adventures. It sure sounds
complicated, but it’s not. What do I mean by all of this? Everyone has their own methods,
but here is a big part of how I personally put a fall planning process together.

I use the same process if I am hunting locally here in the Northeast or if I am hunting in my
favorite areas in Indiana or Missouri. We experience so much through the hunting season, it is impossible to remember it all a month later, let alone a year later. Can you remember the events that happened on Nov. 6,
2007 and how they may help you in the future? You might, but I can’t. Because of this
lack of brain power, I keep a logbook of my daily events while in the field. There are tools
out there such as Scout Look APP that can help gather data, but I rely on the old-fashioned
pen and paper.

Programs are great for accumulating raw data but they lack the emotion of how a pen and
paper can deliver your thoughts and observations. You need to scribe those events that
occurred during your evening hunt on Nov 5, 2013 at that new inside corner stand,
looking over a freshly cut corn field. They may lead to key decisions on how and what
you will do in the future.

It has been more than 20 years since I started keeping yearly field log books. It takes only 5 to
10 minutes at the end of my day. The information on temperature, wind, and
barometric pressure are valuable, but even more so are your observations: directions and
times a doe may have entered the fields, when the bachelor groups of bucks break
down, the date you noticed the does start leaving their fawns and beginning the breeding
process again, the date you started utilizing the rattling horns and the results. The list goes on
and on.

After each specific season, archery, muzzleloader, or even an out-of-state Iowa hunt, I
review the log and come up with a list of specific observations that help me base
decisions on future hunts and pre-fall field work projects. Those decisions could be on
altering stand locations 100 feet to the east or total abandonment of an area. They could also
lead to my second hunt with that new outfitter in Kansas or maybe opting for someone
else.

Start the process now and have fun with it. It has helped me tremendously over past
seasons. It builds confidence in my approach and leads to success shown on my trophy wall.

 

LAUNCHING THE PLAN

Now the fun really begins. All of your data, past experiences, topo and aerial map
reviews will lead you to your stand placement decisions. My three goals when placing or
moving a stand are:

  1. Safety in the field.
  2. Stick to the plan. Don’t deviate or take short cuts.
  3. Get it done in one well-planned visit. Our biggest enemies in reducing our
    chances are over exposure or multiple visits to a stand sight.

The decision of selecting the correct entry and exit routes is critical to all your hard work
and future success. Once established, they become cast in stone. Keep your wind in mind
and strive for low visual exposure at all times. I like to feel like I am in a protected cave when I am
walking to my stand. Clear all vegetation and debris in the walking path. As we enter
and exit in the dark, a clear but narrow path is mandatory. Silent in, silent out.

If I had a magic wand to select the day to work in the field, it would be very windy and cool
with rain in the future forecast. The wind cancels your noise while working, the cool
temps keep you productive, and the rain will wash all of the bad scent away. Weather doesn’t normally
work out that favorably though, so get out there and get it done either way.

Be prepared to take everything you need into the woods to get it done in one visit. A well
prepared pack with all of the essentials is key. My pack is always loaded with the same
items EVERY TIME. I won’t list all of my items at this time, but rubber gloves and boots
are a must. I also use a full vest safety harness with pockets along with a climbing
lanyard. Ninety percent of the time I do all of my own sets, but it is a big plus to have a hunting
buddy assist. Having two people gives you the ability to possibly handle two sets in one day.

The big bonus is to have someone on the ground handling the trimming as you bark out
orders on what trees to selectively trim. I’ve found it is easier to over-trim when you’re on
your own going up and down a stand to check lanes, even though over-trimming is the biggest taboo
of setting a stand. Gather all your clippings and strategically place them to your benefit.
Funneling deer or having them pause in your lane could help in our your goal of that
perfect shot. A few items that are a must for trimming success are: three six-foot sections of
Stihl trimmers and saw blade (they give you the ability to trim at 24 feet) along with a small
grass sickle, hand pruning cutters and a Hooyman Saw.

 

LET THE SEASON BEGIN

It was sure fun sharing some of my thoughts and strategic planning methods with you. If
you haven’t started your fall hunting plans, it’s not too late. I hope this may assist you in
getting it headed in the right direction. What a great feeling it is to put it all together.
Good luck on your hunting adventures and have a safe and successful season.