Preseason scouting is one of the most important parts of any deer hunt, whether hunting an area frequented for years or a location being tried for the first time. Granted, preseason checks of familiar hunting grounds need not take as much time as is required to look over new territory.
Nonetheless, doing it or not doing it can play a significant role in determining the number of whitetails or mules that end up on the game pole by the end of the season.
Scouting for Deer Hunting: How My Uncle and Me Did It
It is not unusual for centers of deer activity to shift from year to year for a variety of reasons. Hunters who fail to detect a change in movement or use patterns before the season opens can lose the most valuable day of hunting of the season: opening day.
Starting of Scouting
Two years ago an uncle of mine found what proved to be a hot spot for bucks on state land. The first day of the season he missed a whitetail with a six- or eight-point rack. A spike horn he saw the next day wasn't as lucky.
Last season he was all set to go back to the same spot but routinely went to check it out before the season began. It was a good thing he did. A road had been opened in the area and a large field created right where his stand had been. Since there were a few days until the opening day he had a chance to locate an alternate position.
This isn't likely to happen on private land, but changes in other factors from year to year such as weather, food availability, or maturing of the habitat can cause shifts in deer abundance and activity in certain locations.
Discovering Deer Hiding Places
Something I try to do when scouting territory hunted year after year is to get into cover I haven't been in before or am not familiar with. This often results in the discovery of new deer hiding places. I often don't get into some of these deer hangouts because they are out-of-the-way or extremely thick. Deer easily find safety in such spots.
Also, you need to use the best scope for rimfire rimfles for bettter performance.
Some hunters who hunt the same territory every fall get in the habit of using the same stands, making the same drives, or still-hunting the same course all the time. There is nothing wrong with this, but it often leads to overlooking areas that are worth trying.
In addition, deer that live in the vicinity are quick to catch on to the routine and may avoid spots where they have encountered hunters. A change of pace may be the ticket to some easy venison.
Scout as Much Terrains as You Can
When visiting deer country that will be hunted for the first time, hunters should try to scout as much terrain as possible. At the same time, they are familiarizing themselves with the deer situation, they are guarding against getting lost.
This is the second advantage of preseason scouting in an unfamiliar area. Along the same lines, features of the terrain such as boulders or stumps that might be mistaken for deer can be checked out while scouting. Then hunting time won't be wasted looking at these deer like objects. This also makes out-of-place shapes that may be deer more noticeable.
Last Few Tips
Still, a third benefit of visiting hunt locations ahead of deer season is the possibility of combining scouting missions with small-game hunting. Such small game as squirrels, rabbits, grouse, and other game birds provide action in many states right up to the time some deer seasons begin.
Some states may prohibit carrying a gun in the field the week before deer season, however; so be sure it is legal before planning on hunting small game when scouting for deer.