Here it is, 4th of July weekend. I’ve got less than 19 weeks until the Rifle Opener here in KY. I am starting to make a list of what needs to be done.
First off, the time to establish a new salt lick for the year is probably over. I know a lot of guys who start putting out licks in September, but the deer’s desire for salt begins to wane about then. You really need to put out your salt in March. That is when deer will be starting to look for it. I added rock salt to me two licks just a few weekends ago, but these were already in place. I was just refreshing ones that had been around for more than a decade. I am not going to say it’s wrong to put out salt now or even later, but the benefit will be mostly seen next year. The peak of salt lick activity is in June around these parts. The best reason to put out a lick is to habituate the doe groups to using particular trails.
If I was going to pick the best time to pick up a new deer rifle, it would be just as season is ending. Usually January and February are the best times to find a new deer rifle, but nobody wants to think about it then. I say this, because stores want to reduce their inventory. My buddy clued me in that the best time to find a used deer rifle is at the big gun show just before Christmas. Guys are trying to sell off their guns to have money for presents. A lot of guys buy a new gun every year and sell it off after season. I have gotten a few like that over the years.
So shaman, so far you’ve said what this ISN’T a good time to be doing. What is?
I have found that the next 3 weeks are the best time to pick up deals on treestands, especially mail order. You may be getting last year’s inventory. You may be getting close-outs. However, who cares? They don’t go stale. Buy stands now.
I’d also be thinking about building stands, or at least getting your act together for building one. If I was putting together a new stand or ground blind, I would be using the time now to assemble the wood and screws and start pre-fabbing stuff for a setup in the first week or two of September.
I’ve been off my bow since the 2007 season. My shoulder went bad. I generally did not shoot in the off season, but July was when I started to get my bow out and start thinking about what needed to be bought for the coming season. July was a good time to get my arrows made, buy a new rest or drop the bow off to have a new string put on. This is the month where you can still avoid the rush. I would also start a regimen of daily pulling an exerciser so strengthen my muscles so that I was ready to pull a bow in August.
I’m scouting really all year round. However, now is a good time to get out and get a feel for the deer. Unlike winter scouting, the deer sign is quickly obscured. So it is easier to determine exactly how many deer are around. In winter, a habitual trail may look like Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow when it is only 4 or 5 doe making the tracks. Go back now, and see. You will be able to better discern how many individuals there are. I spend evenings glassing with my binoculars. The deer are contented and not very skittish.
I put out a game camera or two right now around the salt licks. It is a good way to count numbers and determine the overall health of your herd. I am not a big proponent of game cameras, but I do find the eye candy satisfying.
Ammunition and Reloading Projects
Go down to the ammo locker right now. Make an inventory of everything that needs to be replaced before season. If you are buying ammo, start looking for deals now. Your choices wane as it gets close to season, and the cheap deals on deer ammo really happen too close to season. The best time to shop for ammo for this season is just before the start of LAST season.
I haven’t shot factory ammo at a deer in this current century. For me, it is all about reloading. I have to figure out how much of everything I am going to need. I still have to find a pet load for my 25-06 and I have an 8mm Mauser to start on. However, I also have to figure out if I need to load up replacements for all the others. I usually start sighting-in about September 1. This year I have a new Progressive Reloader. I will have to get all my projects cleaned up with that before I pull it off the bench and start the various small runs of deer ammo that will get me through the season.
July 4th weekend has always been my favorite for working up new loads and trying out new rifles. It gives me a chance to really dig into a project in depth. If you’re asking me why I am not out there this weekend, it is because I am pretty well set for deer rifles right now. If I let the 25-06 and 8mm projects slide, I’ll still have enough depth on the rack to get me through the season. I have also been putting in a lot of time at the new Hornady Lock-n-Load AP. In the time it used to take to make 50 rounds of pistol ammo, I’m not able to crank out 200 rounds.
Start going through your kit and filling in any holes– literally and figuratively. Some time this month I’ll get my turkey duds washed in baking soda and put them away for deer season. Begin watching for good buys on insulated clothing, polypro underwear, socks, etc. They want to move this stuff out of the way to make room for this year’s stuff. Check everything for fit. The time to find out that you’re a 2X and not an XL is now. Patch holes. Mend broken straps.