It is months away from deer season, and already I’m seeing more bucks—indeed, more deer overall—than I have in the last several years. This is surprising to me, considering the winter we endured in the upper Midwest, one of the toughest in recent memory. So it is a good thing to be seeing deer, and remembering their amazing capacity to tough out snow and cold and wind for months on end…and then start pumping out fawns and growing antlers and doing all the things they do so effortlessly each year.

Still, even with all this good news, it is still too early to make any legitimate prediction about how hunters will fare in the upcoming season. Except, that is, for this: It is going to cost us a heckuva lot more money to chase deer around than it ever has. Here in Minnesota, gas prices are dancing around $4 per gallon, and though I used to ignore doom-n-gloom predictions about rising petrol costs, I’d have to be an idiot to do so now.

So I’m looking into my crystal ball (which has a reflective prism into my bank account) and wondering what to cut for the fall ahead. How much will I save if I don’t run a scouting camera trail this year? Should I reduce the number of evenings I drive to my hunting spots and glass for bachelor groups? And though I’m lucky enough that, in a typical year, I get to deer hunt in two or three states, maybe this fall would be a good one to stick close to home. So what about you? Are fuel costs going to affect your planting and/or maintenance of food plots? Scouting trips? Actual deer hunts? Or will you bite the bullet and just accept high gas prices as necessary pain for being a deer hunter? Tell me your thoughts, and share the price of a gallon of unleaded (or diesel) in your area….