A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
— Colin Powell

You need to start preparing for the 2017 whitetail season now. Yes, I know we are just now starting our 2016 season, but the truth is some of our seasons were over before they started. Why? Because of our lack of preparation.

When it comes to whitetail hunting, do you consider yourself a Weekend Warrior, or maybe you’re a member of the Orange Army? Both of these groups are often thought of as part-timers, and lacking the dedication of serious whitetail enthusiasts. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with falling into either category.

A large percentage of hunters fall into these categories, and even the most dedicated hunters have a down year. Sometimes it happens overnight! There are many circumstances that contribute to this change; family-life, work, lack of hunting access, or even dealing with burnout. If you fall into either category – who cares and no big deal!

If however, you want to make a change and elevate your whitetail game, I invite you to join me in this pursuit.

At one time I was a dedicated whitetail hunter, however, most of my dedication was limited to time in the stand. Sure, I could tell you about reading sign, or hang a stand in a good location that produced results. I could tell you all about what deer were doing at that time of year, but I relied more on my patience than I did on knowledge.

To be successful, you have to use all the tools available. Sitting in a treestand for hours on end can produce great results, especially if you have a great piece of property, but it will limit you. In order to join the elite 10% of hunters, it takes more than just sitting in your stand for hours to join this club. The best whitetail hunters can go to any decent property and can locate the best stands – it just takes work.

If you want to kill big whitetails you are limited to your circumstances, and you have to hunt a property that has; food, water, and cover. The next component depends on you and your knowledge of deer behavior, and your level of commitment to make this happen. Sometimes we cannot change the geography in which we hunt, but we can find properties that hold whitetails. We also can change our commitment level, and the two go hand in hand.

Where to begin

Successful people generally have two things in common:

1. They focus their energy on one thing. How many professional athletes play two sports? Try naming a few that were really successful at doing so. Most choose to play one sport for a multitude of reasons, but it all goes back to the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. If you are distracted by multiple goals, it is hard to master any of them. If you want to win turkey calling contests – spend your time doing that, but if you want to kill big whitetails then set aside a full year to this goal.

There is tons of research that supports the idea that someone who has a plan, and makes goals will be 2-3x more likely to achieve their goals than those that do not. Those that choose to write that goal down are even more successful. Now is the time to write this goal down, and focus your energy on mastering the art of whitetail hunting.

2. They outwork everyone around them. My first year of Little League baseball, I was not very good. After that first year though I fell in love with the sport, yet I wasn’t getting the results on the field that I desired. So that entire off-season I worked and practiced to hone this skill. Guess what? Year number two of little league baseball and I was selected to all-stars.

Some people have a knack for picking things up, and just being naturally good at it. Some people start hunting, and right away they are killing big deer based off of luck. Does that make them an expert? No. Do you really want to ask advice from this guy on where to hang a stand? Probably not. You want to ask the person who has put in the legwork to understand habitat, and patterns, you want the guy who gets it done no matter the circumstances.

If you want to be that person, there will have to be sacrifices. Whether that is traveling a few states to hunt, leasing land, knocking on doors, or clearing a property. It takes work.

Building your database

The biggest part of your focus, should be understanding deer behavior – specifically for the area you hunt. There has never been a time in history where information was more abundant than it is now. If you want to become an expert in something the information is out there on how to make that a reality.

The best resources I find are usually on the web. The best place to start is a simple Google search. If you want to find out when the rut hits in your area, search for it! Searching on the web will sometimes pull up junk sites, but you normally can find very quality information. The most consistent way to pull information is by finding a few resources that you can trust, whether that is a podcast, blog or You Tube channel, information is right around the corner. To stay up to date what I am reading, head over to my Resources page for a list of the places I frequent the most.

My plan

For the last five years, I have been way too busy and distracted to get my act together before deer season. This year was no different. I launched a new business venture, took an elk hunting trip, my 9-5, and I moved! Chasing down whitetails has been very far down my to-do list. Yet here I am thinking about sitting in a tree stand – just like all the years before.

Do I have places to hunt? Of course. But, I do not feel adequately prepared, and for me that is the worst feeling in the world. So now is the time to push all of my other hobbies aside and make a (time) investment for the future. I’ll still research western hunts and play with my turkey calls, but it is time to get serious about whitetails. Here is the plan:

1. Write down a goal. It is best to be very specific about your goal, and make sure that it is realistic. (While some may say that my goal is too broad, I do believe that I have a 20 year head start on achieving this.)

  • Master the Art of Hunting Whitetails, and putting myself into position to kill big bucks year after year – starting in 2017.

2. Create a schedule and have micro goals to achieve the macro. To do this, I will purchase a real calendar and also utilize a whiteboard for monthly achievements. I will also strictly follow the plan set forth, Precision Bowhunting, written by John and Chris Eberhart (this should be required reading for whitetail hunters!).

3. Find someone to hold me accountable to my goals. 

Get going

Good luck on your 2016 season, and I hope this helped you find some motivation for 2017, or at least got you thinking. If you have any comments, or other ideas please comment below.

Posted by Adam Crews