Last Minute Scouting
With deer season in full swing throughout most of the country, many hunters may not be as prepared as they could be to find big bucks. Those hunting new areas or who weren’t able to preseason scout are at a disadvantage to year-round scouters. There is hope, though. Last minute planning and scouting can help hunters bag this season’s trophy.
The first place to start your pre-hunt scout is at home, before you even set foot in the woods. Obtain a topographical map of the area that you plan to hunt. Also, find any aerial images available showing characteristics that you can’t see on the ground. In many areas, mapping programs using satellite images, such as Google Earth, allow you to see land terrain features. Using the topographical maps and aerial shots, search for places to find deer. Look for probable travel routes between possible feeding and bedding areas. Deer will take the path of least resistance when traveling from their food source to bedding areas, as long as this path has plenty of cover.
Once you have located several likely deer hot spots on the map, you will want to physically scout the area. Be as least invasive as you can be. You can minimize your presence by wearing scent-free clothing and boots. Check signs of deer. When you locate deer tracks take the time to study them. Try to determine where the tracks are going. How fresh are the tracks? What were they doing when they left them there? What features are they leading to? Are the tracks going to a feeding area near by or are they leading to or from a bedding area? Look for rubs and scrapes since these are specific signs that a buck is in the region.
Game cameras can be a great tool to help fill in the blanks. Place a camera by the areas you scouted on the maps and in the field. A game camera will not only show you what deer are using these areas, but also give you an idea of when and how the deer are using them. Many new game cameras come equipped with an LCD monitor to view images in the field, the day of your hunt. Or, carry a handheld viewer with you. The proof will be in the pictures that your quick scouting paid off.