Early Season Northeastern Whitetail Strategies

Gus Congemi has been an avid bow hunter for 21 years and among his many accomplishments, has the #1 brown bear archery, #2 tahr archery, #7 free range stag archery and #9 Cape Buffalo archery in the SCI record book. In September SCI announced a sponsorship with his program, Live The Wild Life.

I’ve hunted Whitetail in the Northeast for over 30 years.  During that time, I’ve used a lot of trial and error methods and like many hunters, have had good years and bad years.  I’ve been able to hone it down to what seems to work best for me.

Targeting food sources early in the season, if they are available in your hunt area, is a great thing to do.  The Northeast has a lot of mast crops, for example oak and beechnut and I target ridges where I’m seeing those trees.  There are even specific trees that I target because of their production year after year.  Simply put: Follow the acorns.

In the past, the New York season started late and much of the crop had already been depleted by Opening Day.  Now that the New York season opens October 1st, like Connecticut and New Jersey, there is still time to catch the crop drop.

Get on a good travel route with good acorns, unfortunately they are everywhere here in the northeast.  There is a lot of food in lots of places, they will feed along those trails but it’s a good way to get a quality buck feeding their way from bedding to wherever they will go.  These areas make a great travel corridor for the animal because they can feed throughout the day.

I prefer to hunt from tree stands that time of the year, as thick foliage is still on the trees and it covers you up well. I can’t see as much from a ground blind for this type of hunt becasue they restrict visibility.  The deer are not coming to a specific spot like a turkey to a decoy, they are feeding along a ridge, the tree stand provides a good vantage point to have a wider scope of visibility to see further.  I’ve used a ground blind on select hunts to target a scrape they seemed to be going to, but the majority of my hunts are in a tree stand. 

If I’m able, I set up multiple stands for every wind direction.  I’ve also learned not going in to get to the stand in the morning, only in the afternoon.  Many times in the past, I’ve walked in and bumped more deer by entering in the dark or first light than it’s worth.  Yes, they can be feeding coming through most of the day but targeting them in the afternoon seems to work best for me.

Utilizing what I’ve learned, I’ve had great success, and this year was no different.  I took a great buck in Connecticut, a doe and buck in New Jersey, and still have work to do in New York. It’s great early season action if you can target crops early and can give yourself the chance to get a quality animal in the Northeast.

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