Whether you’re a new bow hunter or you’re already a pro, you need to prepare before you set out to the field come hunting season. One essential preparation you need to do is scout for deer and check out the woods you’re planning to hunt in.
Do you know how to scout for deer? If you’re looking for tried and tested tips for a successful deer scout, then read on.
Advantages of Scouting
Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your target and hunting grounds is important if you wish to make the most of your bow hunting experience. The more you’re acquainted with the grounds, the more you could adjust your plans to increase your chances of successfully harvesting whitetails to bring home.
If you are one of those early season hunters who like to start on the opening day, you might discover that most of deer’s habits pre-hunting season will be similar to their routines at the start of it. You can then use this knowledge to your advantage and get an early harvest before the deer have the chance to change their routines in response to the sudden influx of predators.
Another advantage of scouting early is that you’ll have more time to install your tree stand. Doing this will give deer time to get used to it, so that they won’t get spooked by it when hunting season officially opens. Otherwise, they would just avoid your spot, and as a result, you would most likely end up with no game.
How Do I Scout for Deer?
Look for signs that deer leave
Bucks, like other male animals, tend to leave their marks to announce that a particular spot is his territory. As a hunter, you should familiarize yourself with these signs and be on the lookout for them.
Examples of common marks that bucks leave are rubs against tree barks. They also like to scrape the ground with their hoofs, and bigger bucks would even go as far as peeing in another buck’s territory to prove that he is the more superior one.
Look for food sources
Check out where food plots abound, and if possible, install a tree stand near it. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll spot a deer or two around this area, especially in the early morning or late afternoon.
If you can’t find a good spot to set up near a food plot, then try to install your tree stand in natural forage areas, as there’s a good possibility that deer would go to these places, too.
Find bedding areas
Though some hunters might disagree, I think it’s essential that you know where the deer’s bedding areas are. This place serves as a safety zone for them, so they normally keep their guards down when in them. While I don’t recommend shooting a deer while he is sleeping, I think it’s a smart move to at least be aware where one will come from or head home to, so you could set up an ambush for him while he’s in transit.
Be mindful of wind direction
Deer have a very sensitive sense of smell, so it’s vital that you set up your tree stand in a spot where a deer won’t smell you. Once you find a food plot or forage area, check out the wind direction in the trail. You want to be downwind from your target so that it won’t catch your scent.
A technique I’ve learned over my years of bow hunting is to set up at least two tree stands in one trail—in opposite directions. This way, you can simply move from one stand to the other if the wind changes direction while you’re there.
Tips for Scouting Deer
Start early in the day. Just like during hunting season, deer often leave their beddings at dawn to get some breakfast. I find that this is the perfect time to start scouting, since you’ll have more time to follow their trail, familiarize yourself with their habits, and mark potential spots to install your tree stand.
Take advantage of the internet. Unless you’re super old school who wants to do everything analog, I recommend making the most out of the internet when scouting for land to hunt on.
One of my favorite Google features is Google Maps’ Satellite View, because it allows you to see an aerial view of a specific area. Using this, you can already check which spots have food plots, dense foliage which deer might use as a bedding area, as well as access roads you can use going to and fro the place.
Don’t forget your binoculars! Binoculars are essential to perform a successful scout, because they allow you to see so much better than when you’re relying solely on your eyesight. When buying binoculars, make sure you get something that works for you, not another pro hunter or friend. You’re the one who’ll be using those binoculars, not them.
Don’t overdo it. I believe that there is such a thing as scouting too much. Don’t focus too much on a particular area or a specific deer. It’s always better to have a Plan B or C, in case someone else tags your deer before you could make a shot at it.
Scouting for deer may sound like a tedious activity pre-season, but it’s an important part of hunting. Without proper scouting, you put yourself at a disadvantage against your targets and competitors. Scouting allows you to pick your targets, find ideal spots to set up your tree stand and gear, and devise plans to make out of your hunting trip.
Is this article helpful? How do you scout for deer? Let’s discuss! Leave your comments on the comments’ section below. I’d love to hear from you!