Ok, trust me I know we are a long ways out from deer season 2014 but, if you’re as crazy a hunter as myself you are wanting to get back in the field already. I’ve heard lots of mixed reports about 2013 season and seems like some people struggled to drop the tines and fill the freezer. I was fortunate enough to have a very successful season last year and I know I owe it to my spring scouting and land management. Remember there is always something you can do to improve your chances of closing the deal even when you are nearly a year away.
Scouting means a lot of work and plenty of time and energy, so be ready and be prepared. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of walking your property or land you’ll be hunting as soon as you can after the winter. After deer season closes I like to get out of my woods and fields as quick as possible to let them use my land as refuge during the season, and winter months. I find that come spring time I am holding more deer to establish summer eating habits and bedding areas for the upcoming year. Yes, I also follow the sanctuary theory which I will discuss in an upcoming land management blog.
Walking the land and I mean not just strolling your usual paths or points of easy access, is required for good scouting. Cover the land- I mean grid that property! You never can be sure of what has happened from winter and spring storms, maybe a predator(s) presence has caused paths and beds to move. Trees might have fallen, rivers and creek banks might have shifted all of which is creating new routes and pinches. If you can get out in the snow, you can easily find paths and high traffic areas. A hard frost works great in the woods as the leaves will turn up showing you there highways and makes for identifying their bedding areas easy. Covering the land for scouting is best done during the spring times when frost is still settling at night. This means that bugs and undergrowth won’t be in the way of your scouting, which provides for easy indicators when tracking as well as scouting.
If you’re having a difficult time scouting or finding more critical evidence of scrapes and scratches for the rack hunters out there- slow your roll! I cannot begin to go over the importance of dropping to a knee, looking from all angles, also from different visual scanning speeds and focus fields. Stopping and adjusting your point of view/ocular focus area will show you what’s hiding right under your nose.
Get some trail cameras out and start using them! If you are lucky enough to walk out your backdoor and step onto your hunting grounds this might not be as essential for you but for those of us that have a drive to reach or spots trail cameras can be an invaluable tool. If you already have a good amount of knowledge on where the deer reside, go ahead and look for new places. It doesn’t make much sense to scout an area which you have hunted for years and know like the back of your hand, so spread the cameras.
When looking for a camera pay attention to battery life and what night time features the camera has. I can tell you personally don’t waste your time, money, or frustrations on bargain trail cameras. Spend the few extra dollars and get a trusted brand with features and high quality images required for scouting. When I am shopping for a camera operation time is essential, image storage, and infrared night vision is a must these elements come together to show me what I cannot see at home while being hundreds of miles away.
With the scouting ground work completed, you’ll easily find good areas to place the cameras and after some images are taken you’ll have a better idea of land management needs for the upcoming year and how you can best hunt/hold deer on your land. When placing trail cameras find an area that will give you a wide view even if it’s not exactly where you would be looking to place a stand or blind. Remember to mount the cameras lower than you think! Mounting the cameras lower or using the natural angles will really show you what’s out there not just your deer population, but lower mounts will catch the eye reflection of deer, predators, and other critters.
What’s your favorite way to scout your land? Let me know in the comment box below!