The great thing about living in Mississippi is there is always a different outdoor season in full swing. Summer fishing turns into late summer alligator season. Gator season turns into dove season. Dove season takes us into the fall hunting season, in which we can harvest multiple species. Rarely is there a time when we don’t have something to hunt or catch in our great state.
September signals the alarm that deer season is just around the corner. If you haven’t sprayed out summer plots and began preparation for winter plots, now is the time. In baseball, we always say that championships are won long before the season ever begins. The same rings true for bagging that big buck. A little work and preparation will increase your odds of putting meat on the table and horns in your trophy room.
This month is also a good time to strap some cameras out in high trafficked areas. With opening day just around the corner, it’s good to know what bucks are traveling through and which bucks make your “shooter” list. Cameras have become somewhat of a hot button topic lately in the outdoor world. A few western states have put more stringent laws in place regarding camera use. A couple of years ago, Nevada banned the use of trail cameras on public land for certain time periods of the year. This year, the state of Arizona banned the use of trail cameras altogether. Montana has banned the use of cellular cameras, and New Hampshire has prohibited harvesting an animal on the same day trail camera pictures were taken.
I’m personally on the fence when it comes to cellular cameras. I appreciate the convenience of them, and not having to enter the woods and disturb the wildlife has to be an advantage. Obviously, the less scent you take into the woods, the better. The other side of me views it as a lazy way to track wild game. The evolution of various types of hunting equipment have made it easier than ever to track and kill deer. Cellular cameras, perhaps, give the greatest advantage of all new gear. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not for the future of hunting, but until Mississippi adopts laws against it, feel free to take advantage.
If you are an archery hunter, September is your last chance get your bow out and dial it in before the season begins. Up until now it’s been entirely too hot to shoot, unless you have an indoor range, of course. I’m beginning to see more and more people posting pictures practicing for the upcoming season. The worst feeling is going into opening weekend not being confident in your equipment, or yourself. Now is a good time to set aside a few evenings a week to shoot. Make sure you test fire your arrows with the broadheads you plan to use, as well. Although your broadhead might be the same weight as your field tip, they will often fly differently. Not practicing with your broadheads can result in poor shot placement and a lost, and wounded, harvest.
Another thing to make sure you work on is shot distance. This drives me crazy with archers. I’m no Fred Bear, but I feel very confident out to 40-50 yards. Knowing your limitations is equally as important as your gear selection. I often see hunters practicing shots of 75+ yards and I don’t understand it. That target is going to stay still through the entire flight of your arrow. A deer is not likely to do the same. I’ve had deer duck my arrow and “jump the string” many times at various distances. Shooting a target from 75 yards is much easier than shooting a deer at 30 yards. Also, isn’t the point of archery hunting to see how close you can get rather than how far you can shoot? When presented with the choice to take a sketchy shot versus letting that animal walk, use good judgement and get him next time. If left undisturbed, you’ll likely see him again. If you wound him, the odds are high that you’ll never see him again.
Finally, just because hunting season is almost here, don’t forget that this is still Mississippi and there are things crawling around that will injure or kill you. The majority of rattlesnakes that I’ve killed in my life have been killed during the month of September. It’s just cool enough to get them to stir during all times of the day. They are also feeding to store up for the winter months that are ahead. Be sure to wear snake protection when out doing food plots or working on your target practice. Nothing can ruin a good outdoor adventure worse than limping to the local hospital with a snake bite. Given my track record of ignorant injuries, this is one that I’ve fortunately not experienced…yet.