Pre-Season Deer Hunting Scouting Tips
Scouting is an important tool toward having a successful season. While it can be done anytime during the year, the most valuable and revealing time to scout is in late August through September and early October. As I have advised since 1984, scouting is yet another instrument that leads hunters of having consistent success for tagging bucks. But be WARNED, though, not all scouting methods can lead to success. Below are a baker’s dozen tips on scouting.
It is crucial to realize that scouting for deer in fall can be risky tactic. Scouting an area too often alerts deer, especially adult bucks, to human intrusion. The most effective fall scouting is done from a distance and unobtrusively as possible.
When putting boots on the ground to scout, you risk warning deer of your presence. To avoid this, purposefully set up a couple of stands or blinds as observation stands that provide long distance scouting opportunities.
Use spy cameras judiciously (where they are legal to use). Once camera are set out only check them periodically instead of regularly. Putting out and picking up cameras once a week can quickly alert deer to your presence. The longer cameras are left out between checking them -- the better the tactic is.
One beneficial method of low-impact scouting is using high power, quality binoculars to observe deer from vehicles (trucks, ATVs, etc.). Watching deer from afar will enable you to see their natural movements and the times of the day the move on the property you hunt.
Keep cameras away from a deer’s line of sight. Don’t hang them in highly visible places. Instead hang them pointing down about six feet off the ground. This will prevent deer from seeing them instead of seeing the cameras in their line of sight.
Before hunting season starts and where it is legal to do so, use minerals and/or other attractants to lure deer into places they can be observed from afar.
While scouting in late September and early October take note of current and future food sources deer are eating when season opens.
Pre-season scouting is also a terrific time to test snort calls. Using the different snort vocalizations (social, alarm, alarm-distress etc.). When watching a group of deer for a period of time, make a social snort. If the deer raise their heads and begin to slowly move toward you the call was made properly. Or make an alarm snort at a group of deer. If they become skittish but instead of running off they begin to stomp, snort back, or cautiously approach – you nailed the call. When you want to leave an observation stand without alerting deer to your presence, make an alarm-distress call. If the deer quickly disperse from the area you have made the vocalization correctly! I use this vocalization during deer season when I want to leave a hunting blind or stand without frightening deer from my presence or associating the stand with human presence. You can get more detailed information on our new snort call on our site. We will also be producing a new YouTube segment on using the new snort and it will be posted very soon.
When scouting and large deer tracks set deeply in the soil are found, it is a sign that they were left by an adult deer. If the tracks are splayed the chances are fair to good that they were left by an adult buck
Taking note of the amount and size of droppings on the land you hunt will provide an indication not only to the size of the deer herd, but also what they are currently eating.
Locating early season rubs on sapling trees simply indicate bucks are using the land. Finding a large rubs on larger trees is a good bet that it was left by a resident adult buck.
Through very stealthy scouting techniques, particularly when placing out spy-cameras, look for well-worn, but narrow deer trails. These types of trails are usually in cover and are made by bucks. Don’t under any circumstance invade they area, instead just make a written note of where the sign was located. Use that information to set up a hot-deer stand during the season.
Today, a lot of excellent information can be attained via digital scouting. Analyzing terrain, habitat etc., can be accomplished quite effectively by using Google Earth.