Creating an effective summer program for scouting white-tailed deer

Tony PetersonLast week I sat on the edge of a cornfield with my spotting scope trained on a small corner of a lush, green alfalfa field. My original plan had been to glass a secluded beanfield, but upon arrival I saw another hunter parked there. He was in the area hanging stands for the upcoming season so I called an audible and hot-footed it to a backup spot.

Within seconds of getting setup I was swarmed by gnats, which necessitated several doses of a bug dope just to keep them from insanity-inducing levels. As the sun set behind me the first buck stepped into the field. Soon, several does joined him. I alternated between binoculars and spotting scope. The 10×42 binos served as my scanning optics, allowing me to check out anything suspicious. The spotting scope provided the chance to zoom in and count tines, gauge trophy potential, and better yet, investigate which trails the deer used to enter the field.

Too often, summer scouting involves simply watching deer in fields. But to use those sightings to your advantage come season, take note of where the deer enter the fields. Also, take note of the wind direction at the time because wind almost always dictates deer travel to some extent.

When engaged in summertime glassing sessions, take note of the wind direction and trails the deer use to enter fields. This info can be used to plan stand sites for the early season.As the daylight faded further, a large deer entered the field from a different trail than the other 10 or so that were already feeding. This buck carried a rack out to his ears and looked as if he was easily 3.5 years old. I had a few minutes of light to view him through the spotting scope before I had to switch back to the binos. Then it was time to sneak out through the corn so I wouldn’t blow out the field.

When I got back to my truck I knew that I needed to sneak into the area and hang a stand on the field edge, then try to identify a staging area off of the field. By the season opener that buck, along with his buddies, will be hard-antlered and not nearly as likely to enter the field during shooting hours. However, he might spend some time browsing 100 or 150 yards off of the edge while waiting for night to come. With what I had witnessed through my spotting scope, I thought I might have a decent chance of identifying where that spot might be. And I planned to be ready for him, should my hunch play out. 

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