When it’s hot in the early season, in the mid-80s or even 90s, you should hang at least one tree stand over a fresh water hole. This is an obvious tactic if it’s been a hot, dry summer, like out in the Dakotas this year. But try it even if there are full creeks and rivers where you hunt.
“You might have 5 miles or more of river or creek frontage on your property, lots of water for the deer, but mature bucks often drink at hidden little spots they like, where they feel safe and comfortable,” says expert archer Lionel Strong, who hunts whitetails along the famed Milk River in eastern Montana. While Strong has access to more than 20 miles of gray, moving river, he still zeroes in on backwaters, ponds and marshy areas back off the river in the early season.
Set a trail camera near a waterhole and monitor who comes to drink. Look for muddy trails and tracks close to a swamp or pond, and hang a stand close. Sit for hours in the afternoon shade, or try the setup as a morning option option in September. A big 8- or 10-pointer might sneak in for sip anytime of day. Be ready and shoot straight.