Archery season begins in many states tomorrow, here are some things to keep in mind about the big deer you’ll be hunting.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that October whitetails are super sensitive.  The animals seem to be extremely skittish. Their senses, especially their sensitivity to smell, seem to be much keener than at other times of the year. That makes the hunting tough. You have to be extremely careful and cautious, and you have to pay close attention to the details when choosing and accessing stands.

Another observation is that deer move very slowly in October, due primarily I think to the warm temperatures they’ve been battling all summer. The heat, along with their extreme sensitivity, puts bucks in a super slow-movement mode. It might take a buck an hour to move 50 to 70 yards. He’ll often stop to scent check every twig, every branch, every rock, every leaf. I see that a lot.

Many days you’ll have to try to sneak past four or five skittish does on the way to a stand, or let them slip past your perch before an old buck on red-alert shows up. It’s a tough task that sometimes seems impossible.

Whitetails are natural browsers and in October, there’s browse everywhere. Deer will browse all the way out of a cover and into a feed field, and it takes them a long time to do that. That’s another reason they move so slowly. It’s also why they meander, veering here and there to eat and scent check the brush. If you happened along an hour earlier and rubbed up against that brush, there’s a good chance deer will smell you and bust you.

Another thing I’ve noticed over the years is that deer do not bed very far from feed fields in October. Since the foliage is still thick, a jungle in places, the animals generally don’t have to range very far to find security cover. That cover may be only 50, 100 or 150 yards off a food source. Generally, deer have bedded there, tight to the feed, all summer long. If you penetrate 300 to 400 yards into an area, chances are you’re going to walk right past—and probably spook—a buck that you want to hunt.

Since a mature buck doesn’t move very far in October, you often need to set up close to where he’s bedding. It’s risky business, and when you try it, you must pay close attention to the details.

For starters, make sure you’ve showered and are as clean and scent-free as possible. Spray down liberally with scent killer. Maybe grind your boots in dry mature, or rinse them off if you cross a creek. Make no noise at the truck as you gather your gear. Don’t rattle any fence chains, don’t squeak a fence. When a deer hits a barbed-wire fence, it twangs; when a person crosses it, it squeaks.

Use the thick cover as best you can when accessing a stand. Hide behind hogbacks when sneaking in. Don’t overlook little ditches, creeks and the like you might creep down sight unseen.

Heading into a tree stand, I always skirt it on the downwind side. Always! It’s ultra-critical when hunting the sensitive deer of October. I never step on a deer trail, and try not to cross one, even though it runs downwind my stand. I want a buck to walk close and go broadside, or step a few yards downwind for a quartering-away shot. Stay off those trails so deer won’t smell you.

When I arrive at a tree, I don’t like to loiter at the base of it for very long. Climb up and hoist up your gear and bow as quickly and as quietly as possible. I try not to rake my boots on the bark. I make sure the seats on my stands are well-oiled and never squeak. Nine times out of 10 in October, deer are bedded within earshot of where I hunt, so I take great pains to be as stealthy as possible.

On still October afternoons, the silence can be deafening. Those are the evenings when bucks move ever so slowly and cautiously. You have to move in and hunt with the mindset that deer are right there. You can’t let your guard down, ever. You’ve got to stay in stealth mode. If you don’t imagine that a good buck is just over the next hogback or down in the next hollow, you’re probably going to make a mistake and spook deer uut of there.

One last thing. When you’re 18 feet up a tree and hunting, be smart. If it turns out deer are bedded within 100 to 150 yards of your stand, you can get away with some slow, fluid movements. However, if you fidget around too much and make too many fast, herky-jerky moves, deer will pick you out every time. Many times, I have climbed into stands and spotted deer bedded close. It can be done. You’ve just got to slip in really quietly and cautiously.