Getting new ground to hunt can be very exciting. Whether you join an existing hunting club, are taking advantage of the hordes of public land or have your own property to hunt. Exploring new territory can be an exciting thing. Scouting deer is quickly becoming a lost art. This is still the best method of locating a big mature buck. Here are some tips to finding that buck you are after and how to set up the best stand for killing him.
1. Boots on the Ground – Nothing beats walking your property and walking it again and again. I have been hunting the same three hundred acres for seventeen years and I still spend days walking the property looking for deer activity. Travel corridors, rubs, scrapes, etc. When looking for possible travel corridors, follow creeks, walk edges of fauna changes. Deer are edge creatures, meaning they prefer the perimeter environments rather than the middle. Anywhere two different types of terrain or vegetation meet is an edge. Along a cutover that abuts a hardwood ridge, planted pines along a creek drainage, agriculture fields adjacent to woodlots are all considered edges. These are the areas to concentrate on to find the big bucks you are looking for. Walking and looking for rubs, scrapes and trails is your best bet. When scouting right before and during season it is wise to employ your scent control system to leave no trace. One thing I do is wear my clothes that were washed in Wildlife Research Center laundry soap, and spray down everything with Scent Killer Gold before going into the woods. I do not want to leave any trace of my presence.
2. Locate Rub Lines – By walking along the edges you will find a random rub here and there. But when you find a series of rubs in a concentrated area, you are honing in on a bucks core area. The place he feels the safest and most likely place to ambush. When you see a line of rubs that continue for fifty or more yards, that buck will return to that area, often daily. These are, in my opinion, the best places to ambush a buck. He is becoming very territorial and will run off any buck entering his territory. Once I find this area, I spend a good deal of time looking for a tree to hang a stand. I want to hunt close to his core area, and identifying a tree now so I don’t have to come back later is a good idea. Then, I find an access route to this tree that will allow me to enter without alarming the buck I am there.
3. Place Camera in Likely Places – Since the advent of the motion detected camera, scouting has advanced to a different level. These devices allow hunters to monitor activity twenty four hours a day seven days a week. Anything that walks in front of the motion detector will activate the camera and capture the image. Setting up a Stealth Cam DSK4 along trails, or near rub lines will let you know what and how many bucks are visiting that area. These cameras changed the game because they are there twenty four seven. When hanging a camera, make sure you check its alignment and height. I like to hang them about waist level and point down a trail or monitoring a feeding area. Stealth Cam DSK4 are great tools for identifying the bucks you are after.
4. Use Topographical Maps and Mapping Software – As long as I can remember, outdoor writers and hunters have touted the funnel or pinch point. But locating them on new property can be challenging. The use of modern mapping software and USGS topographical maps you can easily find funnels and pinch points on your new property. Look for areas where the terrain narrows and set a Stealth Cam there, hang a stand and get ready. Every animal in the forest that travel through that area will be forced through that funnel in front of your stand. The use of this technology can save a lot of time and energy.
5. In Season Mid-Day Scouting – How often have you spent days and days afield during the off season scouting and still not see many deer? Most hunters if they are honest will say – often. Don’t sit on your laurels. It is ok to make adjustments during the season. If you are not seeing anything, get down during the middle of the day and scout for activity. When you find something hot, set up there. Do not be afraid to make a change during the season.
Employ these tactics during your preseason and in season scouting to locate and find more deer this season.