Opening Day – Delayed

September 21, 2018 - 9:17 am

Phillip Gentry

Amidst all the melee surrounding Tropical Suggestion Florence last week-end, many bow hunters who were planning on getting started deer hunting last Saturday found themselves delayed. Posts and reports from around the outdoor community here in the Upstate suggest it really wasn’t a bad weekend to be in the woods if you didn’t mind some gusty winds and continuous drizzle.

 With the season opening last Saturday morning, several hunters made arrangements to sit during the week and a few of those folks have turned in some nice bucks and a few does as well. Bucks are entering the last days of hanging out in bachelor groups and are beginning to separate themselves from their peers in preparation for the upcoming rut. 

To say South Carolina has a well-defined rut is a bold, mostly untrue statement. Hunters have reported seeing pre-rut activity as soon as the velvet drops and chasing activity starting well into September. All of this is good news for the early season hunter because hunting pressure is at an all season low. It’s very likely that setting up somewhere off a well-worn path between a feeding area and a bedding area this time of year will get you some deer sightings, whether those are the deer you want to see or not.

Many hunters take does early during the bow season to sort of take the pressure off of insuring they have meat in the freezer and will then pass up nearly every buck they see until the right one comes along. From a biological standpoint, taking does early is the thing to do if you want to harvest does. The average fawn should be of weaning age by September 15 and able to fend for themselves and there is a lot to be said for sliding a silent arrow into a big doe now rather than waiting until gun season and letting every deer on your property know what’s going on. It’s also smarter rather than waiting until she has been bred and then harvesting her. 

If you complain about the heat during the early bow season, there are several remedies starting with the advice to simply deal with it. If it’s a big issue, simply opt for hunting in the morning when the daytime temperatures are on average 10 – 15 degrees cooler between sunrise and mid- morning than between mid-afternoon and dark. You’re going to sweat, you’re going to put off scent and if you aren’t set up properly with the wind, you’re going to get busted. 

The deer hunting community provides mixed sentiments over whether morning or evening sits are better during archery season. A lot can be said about the predictability of deer moving into feeding areas an hour or so before dark but the problem is the deer tend to stay there till midnight meaning you risk blowing out deer on a stand each time you get down for the evening.

It’s still too early to tell about the acorn crop on a widespread basis around the Upstate. Some reports are stating bumper crops and others are looking for a reduced mast production year. Regardless, food sources are still your best bet and as suggested finding well-worn paths leading to the food source but not in the immediate area will let you select a target as it walk by but still let you slip out at the end of the hunt without alerting every deer in the woods.

On a final note, we’re entering a full moon weekend this week-end which typically does not send bucks nocturnal without some hunting pressure on them. With the full moon blooming Monday through Wednesday of next week, the moon will still be 88 – 98% visible over the weekend. Normally that would mean get into your morning stands as quietly as possible but maybe not as early as you would a month from now and look for late morning walking bucks. 


Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on WORD 106.3 FM. This week’s guest will be pro bass angler Marty Robinson, discussing Major League Fishing’s new Bass Pro Tournament Trail.


With the aftermath of Hurricane Florence cleared out of the Upstate, deer hunters are ready to get on with deer season.

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