5 Off-Season Deer Hunting Tips with Kirsten Godfrey

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Do You Do These Five Things?

There is no off-season when it comes to whitetails. Even when deer seasons aren't in and you can't hunt them, there are things to be done. Treestand work. Food plots. Trail cameras. Habitat improvements. Bow shooting. The list goes on. If you’re serious about hunting whitetails, the work never ends. And that’s what separates the good hunters from the great ones.

Kirsten Godfrey, a Realtree extraordinaire and die-hard deer hunter, never stops. She works tirelessly during the off-season to increase her odds of success when deer season opens each fall. The following five tips are things she does from January to September to prepare for the upcoming deer season.

Find New Ground to Hunt

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1 | Find New Ground to Hunt

This is an important topic. You never know when you’re going to lose your spot to hunt. You also never know when your spot may no longer be any good for hunting. Habitat loss, particular agricultural practices and many other things can impact the hunting quality of a given property.

“One great way to prepare you for deer season is having land to hunt on,” Godfrey said. “It's nice to have one or more pieces of property to choose from. Make new connections, ask for permission to hunt on that land you always see deer on while on your way to work every morning. The worst they can say is no. [But] you could luck out. You won't if you don't ask.”

Photo credit: Melissa Godfrey

Learn the Ground You Already Hunt

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2 | Learn the Ground You Already Hunt

The more you learn about the places you hunt the more efficient you’ll be at hunting them. Scout during the off-season to get a better understanding of those places. You’ll be glad you did when the freezer is full of venison.

“If you're a hard hunter, hunting from opening day until the last, you know how important it is to not wear out a single stand,” Godfrey said. “Once you get to know the deer, maybe one spot could be better for early season archery, and the next spot could be for modern gun. You'll come to know when to hunt and switch spots.”

Photo credit: Kirsten Godfrey

Maintain and Replace Gear

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3 | Maintain and Replace Gear

Maintenance is required regardless of where or how you hunt. Treestands. Blinds. Trail Cameras. Bows. Guns. They all need repair work and sometimes replacement. The off-season is a grand time to do such things.

“Out with the old and in with the new,” Godfrey said. “A few days before deer season is not the time to find out something is missing or broken. Inspect your gear and make sure it's not time to retire some of the things you've had for years, or the things you've been trying to make work for you. It's nice to update and treat yourself sometimes to the things you know you'll use. New hunting gear makes me eager to put it to work for my success in the woods.”

Photo credit: Kirsten Godfrey

Hone Your Craft

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4 | Hone Your Craft

Shooting your bow is crucial for success. It isn’t reasonable to believe you can go out opening day after not shooting for 11 months and 12-ring a big buck. It isn’t likely to happen. Practice even when deer season isn’t in.

“Make shooting your bow or gun a ritual,” Godfrey said. “Often times we use our gear hard for two to four months, sometimes even a few weeks, and put it away for storage. Make it a point to shoot at least every other week — especially with archery. Take up 3D target shoots at local archery shops. For guns, visit indoor or outdoor ranges. This will keep you in tune with your shooting gear, and will also boost confidence in shots you make while hunting.”

Photo credit: Melissa Godfrey

Eat Plenty of Venison

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5 | Eat Plenty of Venison

Eat healthy. Be healthy. Hunting is hard work. Treat your body right so you’ll perform to the best of your ability. And, if you kill something, eat it. That’s the right thing to do and let’s face it, you’ll need more freezer space once deer season comes back around next fall.

“Nothing prepares you better to fill the freezer with fresh venison than an empty freezer,” Godfrey said. “Clean out your freezer by trying new dishes with your venison. The internet is a wonderful world to swap and share recipes with one another. Or maybe, add a new twist to one of your favorites. After all, we hunt to put food on the table. Don't let any of it go to waste or freezer burn.”

Photo credit: Kirsten Godfrey

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