Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. The kids head back to school and it’s time to turn your attention to autumn endeavors.

For many, fall hunting seasons are still a few weeks or months away, but more serious sportsmen know there’s a season open for something soon, if not already. Here’s a few of the top early season hunts you might consider.

  • Caribou – Winter comes early above the tree line and most hunts are fly-in, making early season the most practical, and in many cases the only option for hunting these big nomads of the north. The spectacle of thousands of large ungulates migrating across the open tundra rivals an African safari, and most hunts allow two animals of either sex.
  • Elk – Early bow and muzzleloader seasons offer a chance to bugle in a bull during the rut. Options range from trekking steep, rugged mountains to hunting the fringes and foothills above alfalfa fields. Many hunts are through a draw so you may be too late for this year; but it’s never too soon to start planning for next year.
  • Pronghorns – Speed goats rut early and most western states open their seasons in time to take advantage of the action. Decoys are a great way to pull in rutting bucks, and warm temperatures drive animals to the water holes.
  • Black Bear – Bear seasons typically begin in the early fall across much of the U.S. and Canada.
    Hunting over baiting is the most effective method in densely forested areas where chance encounters are rare and these black ghosts of the forest are difficult to spot. Spot-and-stalk hunts are more popular in open habitat of the west, or heavily logged areas of the west coast.
  • Whitetails – Several states have very early whitetail seasons for bowhunters, a handful have early muzzleloader hunts and at least one – South Carolina – opens for all hunters in mid August! Temperatures range from mild to oppressive so most of the action will be very early and late in the day. However, both bucks and does are often in regular feeding patterns and bucks are still in bachelor groups.
  • Blacktails – West coast blacktail seasons open early, in some cases offering a rare opportunity for bowhunters to take a velvet buck. Spot-and-stalk is a popular method in open country.

For other early season hunts including exotic animals, visit

Images copyright Bob Humphrey/Yamaha

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