Deer Pre-Season Starts Now

Upstate Outdoors
July 13, 2018 - 9:05 am

Phillip Gentry

While many folks in the Upstate are counting down the days to the start of college football, this Sunday will mark the official two month countdown until the opening day of deer season in the Upstate (Game Zone 2). It’s a little bit longer if you hunt in Game Zone 1 in the mountains or a month sooner if you hunt in Game Zones 3 and 4 toward the coast.

Just like the college gridiron, there’s plenty of work to be done before deer hunters take the field.

Here’s a few suggestions if you don’t already have a list of your own.

1. Find Hunting Land Now – Most deer hunting clubs or landowners typically look for new members or leases during the summer. Word-of-mouth is the more common way that openings get filled, but some larger clubs or tracts may advertise in the paper, want ads, or even online on deer hunting social media pages. It’s getting real close, but it may not be late if you’re lucky.

2. Taking Inventory – Trail cameras have gone from being luxury items several years ago to practical necessities in order to see what size and numbers of deer you have on your property. Trail cameras vary in cost from $59 for basic models to several hundred dollars for models that automatically text or e-mail photos to the hunter. Many hunters place cameras around mineral or feed stations now to begin taking an inventory of their herd and will move cameras to trails and pinch points later.

3. Planting Food Plots – Your local feed and seed or wildlife supply store will be the best source of advice on what and when to plant food crops that will serve to feed wildlife year round and be hunted over during the season. Most planters will suggest the first step is to take soil samples in to your county extension office for testing. The majority of soils will need to have lime or other minerals added before plowing, fertilizing and planting crops.

4. Minerals and Feeding – When baiting for deer was made legal two seasons ago, many clubs realized they would have to put out corn to compete with neighboring properties. Many clubs will begin running feeders a month or two before the season starts. In addition, placing mineral licks and salt blocks will help deer build antler mass. It often takes several weeks or months for mineral blocks to soak into the ground before deer will begin licking and pawing into the dirt to get them.

5. Clearing Land and Vegetation – Following spring rains, trails and roads on many lands left untouched since turkey season will be grown over. In addition, with leaves back on the trees and branches growing, shooting lanes around existing stands will need to be trimmed. Periodic bush hogging is a good idea for cutting ground cover back on lanes and roads and encouraging new tender browse growth which deer will feed on now.

6. Stand Maintenance and Construction – For hunters or clubs that leave stands up year round, now is a good time to check the straps, ropes, and chains that hold deer stands in place to make sure they haven’t weakened or grown into the tree they’re attached to. Construction or placement of new stands now will give deer time to become accustomed to them before the season opens.

7. Gates and Fences – While a deer hunting club may not have the entire perimeter of their land fenced, most will gate their entrances and used barbed wire or other fencing to delineate property lines, pastures, or open land. These areas often need to be maintained and mended from falling trees over the winter and spring. It’s also a good time to walk the property lines, replacing “Posted” signs so your new members or those from adjacent clubs don’t wander onto the wrong property.

8. Shooting – While you’re getting the land in shape, don’t forget about re-honing those shooting skills. Whether you hunt with modern firearm, bow, or primitive weapon, putting some practice time in at the range is also a great idea. 

With so much to do and so little time to do it, it’s no wonder many deer hunters consider hunting a year round sport.


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. The show can also be heard online at live or via podcast. 


With only two months to go before Opening Day of Deer Season, there’s plenty to do before you take to the field. 


Comments ()