Scouting deer now will aid your hunts come fall
I snapped a quick photo of the buck pictured here just before sunset a few weeks ago — I’m assuming his antlers have developed beyond this size by now — when he raised his head to look at me as he munched on the lush greens growing in the field where he grazed.
Not overly concerned with my presence, which was roadside from my truck, he was the perfect example of a summertime male, one enjoying life of ample food without the pressure that comes from hunting seasons.
Does can be a little different because of their fawns that accompany them. With their yearly young close by, they tend to be nervous when any sign of human presence interrupts their feeding in spaces of open viewing, and will move toward the nearest cover if the human element doesn’t quickly disappear.
Bucks can be a little different — especially the younger ones — in that they seem to have a bit more tolerance of being watched. The bigger bucks still do their thing of being secretive and wary, because after all, that’s how they got to be big in the first place.
Road scouting can be enjoyable, because an early evening spin around most locales will provide deer for the watching, which can entertain the whole family. But for those hunters who are serious enough when it comes to their deer hunting, enough so that it pushes them to leave their vehicles and scout on foot, their scouting begins now.
I know it’s the end of July. The weather is hot and sticky, bugs are everywhere and the undercover is lush and thick and often a bit sinister and forbidding if one attempts to travel through the convoluted growth.
But for the best chance at tagging a deer — especially a bigger buck — come deer hunting seasons, one should move off the road and seek those viewing areas that cannot be seen from any vehicle pathway.
That doesn’t mean scouting the secluded spots equates with busting into and through cover, or making enough noise to alert every living creature in close proximity to the scouted area. Rather, it requires sneaking along edges with stealth and basic minimum disturbance to the location.
If you are familiar with a place you may already know the best way to sneak there quietly. When there, stand or sit hidden and without making noise. Watch for deer leaving woods to feed in fields, because more often than not these are the same pathways deer will use no matter what time of year.
Be aware of predominant wind patterns and how it may affect your choice of an exact spot to hunt from. Trails and their usage may change from year to year, and a spot that worked before may now be poor, so knowing the wind at a new spot becomes highly important.
Know other food sources besides field foods, such as mast, fruits, berries and edible underbrush within woods. For an unfamiliar area, it may require longer viewing, and the entrance and walk-though of wooded sections to familiarize oneself with the area and the food within, but which should also be a once and done deal.
Trail cameras can be a benefit, but try and keep them along edges that do not disturb the deer where they rest.
Items to consider bringing along during summer scouting include a portable stool, binoculars, bug spray, a lightweight long sleeved shirt, lightweight boots and a bottle of fresh water.
If you’re really into this consider carrying a logbook or journal to make notes of what is seen and what the area consists of cover and food wise. Sitting and writing helps pass the time of scouting.
To many, this serious off-road scouting may seem extreme, but for those who do so, it often pays off with a tagged deer others wish they were tagging.