My two closest hunting companions are well into preparing for the upcoming archery season for deer.
By the third week in July they had chosen the first one of our varied hunting spots to visit, and placed four trail cameras within that section of woods. After 10 days of leaving the area undisturbed, they retrieved the cameras and viewed the stored photos.
Numerous doe with fawns and two small bucks were revealed. They also were able to recognize which trails saw the heaviest travel, and which trees near those routes would offer the best places to climb with a stand for the best shot at passing whitetails.
They moved the cameras to the next spot, and went through the same routine. This place exposed four bucks along with doe and their young. One of the buck was blessed with a decent spread, and unusually long brow tines. Again, they selected trees for climbing and ambush.
Within the next couple of days they’ll move to another of our hunting locations and place cameras. By mid September they will have scouted all of the woods we hunt, secured with some decent knowledge of what we can expect to find while hunting those places, and some precise spots to do the hunting.
These are not new hunting places, but rather the same areas we’ve hunted for many years. However, like woods and fields everywhere they can change from year to year in terms of food and habitat.
Blow-down trees will change a trail. Nuts and berries and other animal foods also move or become plentiful or scarce season to season, and it’s sure a lot better to know these changes before the first hunt rather than discovering those changes during a first hunting episode.
Much like any endeavor, gaining knowledge before the undertaking is worth the effort. Here are a couple of suggestions for preseason scouting:
1. One certainly does not need a trail camera to scout. Entering a hunting spot and searching on foot for worn trails, foods and overall deer sign is smart and fun, plus the walking is healthy. The key is to get out and do it;
2. If you are using cameras, pick spots near those trails and food places. Many hunters also hunt edges between woods and fields, which are great, especially during early season. So putting out the cameras now at different trails that enter the field will give you a good idea where to hunt when the season does open;
3. Not everyone hunts with bow and arrow from above ground, so now is a good time to decide where the best spot to place a ground blind may be found, or even wooded ambush positions are located. If you have access to private land, placing a blind now rather than after the season begins will mean less disturbance:
4. If you’re checking a new and unfamiliar hunting spot, walk the entire area, giving yourself a good idea where the best sign and food sources are, and remember that the diet of deer will change as the season moves toward late fall and winter. And if you’re planning to hunt public land, and especially want to be away from the “crowd”, first purchase a good topo map of the land, and then determine where the deepest, hard to reach places are found.
Preseason scouting can be fun, and also rewarding come archery season time. It can also offer a fair share of enthusiasm for the upcoming season, a feeling just about every hunter has at one point or another.