Putting your off-season game plan together

During the spring and summer months, often considered the off-season for hunters, many shift their attention to fishing and camping. For avid hunters, the off-season is a great time to take on projects and prepare for the next hunting season. But what exactly should hunters be doing during the off-season?

The off-season is a great chance for hunters to sharpen their skills, scout hunting areas for potential stands, and work on habitat improvements. These can be spread out over the spring and summer months but having a plan can really help when hunting season gets here.

This off-season game plan goes deeper than randomly taking on hunting projects and preparations willy-nilly. Having a well-thought-out game plan for the off-season can relieve stress and give you confidence heading into hunting season. Let’s look deeper into what you can accomplish during the off-season.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The off-season is the perfect time to be practicing your shot. Whether you use a firearm or archery equipment, the spring and summer time months are prime time to practice not only shooting but your entire shooting process so that it becomes natural and fluid without much thought.

For firearms users, schedule days and times to get to the shooting range if you don’t have the means to shoot at home. You don’t have to spend all day at the range, but take quality shots, work through your process and practice at different yardages you may encounter on your hunts. Be sure to practice many different shooting methods under different situations. The harder the practice, the easier your shot in the field will be.

The same goes for archery. If you can’t shoot your bow or crossbow at home, find an archery range near you to practice as much as possible. The nice thing about archery is that you don’t need much room. If you can practice at 20 or 30 yards, practicing your shot process is just as important as shooting variable distances. Look for consistency.

Don’t overlook this, as many do. Even practicing with a BB gun or with other shot training tools that are now available is better than nothing. Don’t be the hunter that missed a shot because they failed to do any practice in the off-season.

Scouting and Strategy

The off-season months are the perfect time to start your scouting and start developing your hunting strategy for the upcoming season. Reflect on how the previous season went and whether you need to change your game plan and strategy, possibly for the upcoming hunting season. This is the perfect time to set up trail cameras and scout new areas with good traffic.

This is also a great time to look at new areas to hunt on your own property, search for new possible areas that you could get permission to hunt on, or scout the public land you have access to. Look for areas that have good deer movement and that would be ideal for your hunting setup, whether it be a treestand or a ground blind.

Strategy is a great thing to formulate during this time, especially for the early season when it is warmer, and crops have not yet been picked. Find patterns and know where the local deer population finds their food, water, and bedding areas. These things will change, and patterns will evolve throughout the season, but it is a great time to see their tendencies and get an idea of what kind and how many animals are in the area.

Having multiple game plans and strategies written down or in mind will help tremendously during the hunting season when things are going your way. The more work you put in during the off-season, the less guessing and worrying you will do when it is hunting time.


There are always things to prepare but waiting until the last minute can cause unneeded stress and uncertainty during hunting season. Take care of your serious preparations during the off-season so that you are ready and stress-free when hunting season comes.

Hunting Land

Know exactly where you are going to hunt. If you have private property and are into habitat management, get your work done in the off-season. Plan food plots, habitat improvements, and other work for the off-season, so it is ready and available come hunting season.

If you are looking into new private lands or need to ask permission, do that now while other hunters are out fishing, camping, and taking time off. It is a great time to develop relationships with landowners that might be willing to let you hunt their property.

Inventory Gear and Equipment

Start going through your hunting gear and equipment and making lists of what you need or what might need maintenance. Need your bow restrung? Don’t wait until September. Do it now. Have gear that needs to be replaced? Make a list and start a budget to have that equipment before the season gets here. Your spouse will thank you for budgeting and not spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars at one time right before the season starts.

Test and maintain treestands and safety equipment well before setting them up in late summer and early fall. If you are planning on buying a new piece of equipment or gear that you have wanted and been keeping your eye on, get it and try it out in the off-season. There is nothing worse than getting new equipment right before the season starts and finding out it is a pain in the butt come hunting season.

  • Get to know the land you’re hunting on
  • Map deer activity for eating, sleeping and moving
  • Refresh mineral sites
  • Look for sheds
  • Pre and post season camera trail reviews
  • Find additional places to hunt

Body Prep

Depending on the type of hunting you do, make sure that your body can handle the pressures of hunting season. A good fitness plan and routine will pay dividends when it is time to put boots on the ground or drag out that monster buck in late October. Be sure you are fit and healthy come hunting season.

Be Ready

Having a good routine and game plan for the off-season will make your hunting season less stressful and more fruitful. Map everything out, and don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow. Those hunters with the most diligence and attention to detail will set themselves up for better success come hunting season if they put the work in during the off-season.