Scouting for Whitetailss
As a seminar speaker and writer, as well as outfitter and guide, I often have hunters ask me, what should I do to start hunting whitetail deer? The answer is simple, but many people rarely do it. 1. have a very good understanding of general deer biology and behavior. 2. know the are you hunt almost as well as the deer. 3. know when and where the deer on your areas are most likely to be active.
Many hunters fail in not knowing as much as they should about deer biology and behavior, which will help them figure out when and where deer are most likely to be active, under most conditions. And they often do not know when and where the deer are most active in the areas they hunt.
As a whitetail outfitter and guide, I typically spend 3-7 hours per day, 3-4 days a week scouting prior to the deer season, and 2-4 hours at least 2 days a week during the season, to figure out what food sources are ripe and being used, when and where the does travel, and locating buck rub routes and particularly buck daytime core areas, which is where the bucks will spend the majority of their time during daylight hours, (when not in full rut mode).
So, what you do is scout, scout and scout some more; because deer patterns will change weekly throughout the rut, and during the fall and winter hunting seasons.
The following article is from my book The Complete Whitetail Addict's Manual, it is copyrighted and cannot be copied or reprinted without the authors written permission. I give that permission for this to be published here.
I hope this helps some of you.
Scouting is actually getting on the land to discover the high use areas of the animals by the sign they leave behind. In order to scout properly you need to be able to interpret the signs. You should be looking for trails, tracks, droppings, beds, food sources, rubs, scrapes, doe home ranges, buck home ranges, staging areas, escape cover and areas used during inclement weather as protection.
You can scout any time of the year, especially during the hunting season. Game movement changes as summer passes into fall and fall passes into winter. Available food sources, falling leaves, weather, hunting pressure, the rut and shorter days all affect game movement; and unless you scout all season long you will not be able to reliably predict when and where to find the animals.
You can't scout all season long without alerting the animals to your presence. But, you can reduce their alarm by scouting at the right time, and getting them used to you. Familiarizing is getting the animals used to you, the sight and sound of you walking, and the scent you leave behind. By scouting as much as possible during the day in areas the animals use (but not while you are scouting), they become familiar with you. Don't act like a predator while you scout. Walk purposely, from place to place, checking food sources, night bedding sites, trails, rubs and scrapes.
Don't sneak through the woods as if you were hunting because you will alert the animals. Erratic searching, or moving hurriedly from place to place in a wandering manner, is predatory behavior and alarms the animals. Act like you are out for a stroll, with very little stopping, and avoid areas you know the animals will be using. I scout open feeding areas from 10 AM to noon when deer are in brush or wooded areas. I scout wooded feeding areas from noon to 2 PM, but, I stay away from known core areas. At this time most of the deer will bedding in their daytime core areas and won't move much. I do spook some animals, but, if I continue out of the area they soon return to normal behavior.
I have taken this technique to such an extreme that I actually walk down the trails and rub routes of the bucks to get them accustomed to my scent. My smell dissipates enough by the time the animals use the trails that it doesn't alarm them. I wear rubber knee high boots from La Crosse, rubber gloves and a charcoal suit while I scout, and I use Scent Killer, Scent Shield or Odor Lok to eliminate human odor. I still leave some scent behind, and the first time the animals come across it they become alarmed. But, as long as they don't hear me or see me (because I am not there) they soon get used to the smell. I have used this method to put out mineral with my bare hands and found animals eating it within two hours. Familiarizing works to get animals accustomed to your smell. Then, when hunting season comes around and the animals smell you, they are far less wary than they normally would be. Usually they are only curious.
Observing should be an important part of hunting and locating. Observing is watching the animals regularly to learn their daily habits, reactions and patterns. Observing should be done from a vantage point where much of the property can be seen without interfering with the animals, and from where the animals aren’t aware they are being watched. You can watch from stands and blinds overlooking agricultural fields, trails, runways, gullies, valleys, lakeshores, etc. Use as many vantage points as it takes to watch most of the property. Especially watch the areas that are hard to see, where the game travels. The more area you watch, the more you know about the movement of the game.
Observing takes time and effort, but not as much as you would think. After watching the property for a few weeks you should be able to predict where the animals move and at what time. The more time you spend observing before or during the hunting season, the better you will be able to predict where and when to find the animals under similar conditions later on.
If you have questions - ask Here or contact me direct at TRMiches@yahoo.com
. I'm here to help
God bless you and yours,