Whether you want to extend this season a little longer or start planning for next year, there’s plenty to do in the offseason. Photo Credit: BU

Whitetail Season’s Over. What’s Next?

  Joe Shead   FeaturedLifestyle   January 9, 2024

We dread the last day of archery season almost as much as we anticipate opening day. Some bowhunters are ready to get back to normal, while die-hards may feel lost or empty now that they can’t participate in their favorite activity. So, what do you do in the offseason?


Go shed hunting to help determine deer herd trends and prep for next year. Photo Credit: John Hafner


For some, whitetails are a year-round pursuit. Once archery season ends, postseason scouting and shed hunting begin. Winter is also a good time to trim major shooting lanes or move permanent stands. Granted, new growth will pop back up in summer, but doing the work right now gives deer plenty of time to get used to the changes. After that, it’ll be time to tackle timber stand improvement projects and to plant and maintain food plots. Then there’s summer scouting, running trail cameras, creating watering holes and setting up mock scrapes. Deer season is practically a full-time job! But there are other ways to pass the offseason, too.

Hit the Road and Keep Hunting


Consider hunting other wild game. Photo Credit: John Hafner


If you’re not quite ready to trade the bow for work gloves, another option is to hit the road and hunt another state where deer season remains open. While archery season closes in December or early January in most states, it remains open into late January or even February in a few others.

Or you could pursue other species. Maybe hogs in Alabama? Coues deer in Arizona? Or exotics in Texas? It’s pricey and not for everyone, but an African safari might be an option. Safaris are typically conducted from spring through summer, during the offseason back home. But it doesn’t have to be anything so exotic. Small-game seasons often remain open well into winter and you might be able to pursue squirrels or rabbits with your bow. Depending on where you live, bowfishing may be an option. Of course, about the time deer season is winding down, turkey season is just starting, so you won’t have to wait long to fill the hunting void.

Plan for Next Year

Now is also a good time to start planning your next big bowhunting adventure. The winter months are a good time for sitting at a computer and researching which states harbor the best opportunities for the species you want to pursue. Then you can contact wildlife biologists, study draw odds, do some online scouting and apply for tags. It’s also a good time to contact outfitters and pick the brains of some of their previous clients, if possible. It’s never too soon to plan your dream hunt.

Joining a winter archery league is another fun way to pass the offseason. It’s a good excuse to keep shooting, which maintains muscle tone and shooting form. Plus, you might learn tips from other archers or have a chance to try out someone else’s equipment. You’ll likely make new friends and perhaps even meet new hunting partners. Many such leagues are held indoors in winter, which is helpful if you live where it’s cold and snowy. Depending on the league, you may be shooting at paper targets, 3D targets or a projected video screen.


Take this time to check your gear. Photo Credit: ATA


The offseason is also a good time to analyze your gear. Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting a new sight but didn’t want to change during the middle of the season. Or maybe now is the time for a new bow. You’ll have plenty of time to get used to it before hunting season. Winter is also a good time to add accessories or make adjustments. Check over your equipment to make sure everything is in top condition. Wax your string and cables. It may even be time to replace them. Is your string serving unraveling? Are any of the bolts holding your accessories rusty? Give your bow a once-over and maintain or replace parts.

Physical conditioning and exercise is always worthwhile, and the offseason is a good time to build a new routine. Now is a great time to stretch, lift weights and do exercises that will improve your strength and agility, which will make you a better shooter. A quick internet search can teach you what to do. Just imagine how these exercises could pay off when you have to hold at full draw for an extended period on that buck of a lifetime next fall!

Finally, it’s never a bad idea to make improvements to your shooting form. Have a shooting coach or hunting partner watch you shoot and ask them for an honest critique of your form. It may even be time to tear down your whole system and start anew. Maybe try some blind bale shooting to work on your stance, breathing, muscle memory and release. The offseason is the perfect time to work on any problems with your shooting sequence so you’ll be in perfect form when archery season rolls around again.




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