Whenever asking an experienced hunter about how to pick a good hunting spot, I bet 99% of them will advise you to start scouting at least 5 months before the hunting season starts. And that’s true!
However, how to scout? Which signs to look for when deer scouting? And how to make the most of your area? All will be answered in this article. Read on!
Why should I start scouting early?
You might ask.
Well, deer scouting can’t be done within 1 or 2 weeks, but need a long time to understand both terrains and animal signs in the area you intend to hunt.
It’s like when you want to get to know someone. It does take time, but the result afterward is deserved.
5-7 months are enough to let you not only understand those two things to find out the best spot but also familiarize to all paths, plants, and which time of a day is best for hunting.
During a hunting season, such that knowledge will help you manage your time better, make movements without detected, and get bigger success.
Which signs to look for during deer scouting
Now, the most important.
The key-core signs you should look for when scouting bucks are:
- Rub lines
- Heavy beat down trails
- Bedding sites
- Travel corridors through the scrapes & timber
- Current or future food sources & watering holes
Remember one rule of thumb, the fresher the animal signs, the better.
For example, a deer trail with fresh rub lines and scat that lead from or to a bedding site might be a potential hunting spot.
How long the search will take depends on how large the hunting land you own. The larger the area, the longer the process.
- Use a map during deer scouting to take the most optimal routes
- Set up trail cams to discover animals’ feeding and traveling schedules
- The best places to find animals activities are around their habitat and water bodies.
- Talk with locals, like farmers or fellow hunters about where they’ve seen animals during weeks ago.
How to scout
Three common ways for deer scouting are:
- Through a camera
- On foot
And I will recommend using all of them and even, in a specific order.
To locate ponds, creeks, possible food sources, funnels, access routes, stand sites, and the general lay of the ground, study topography maps (or Google Maps) and aerial is advantageous.
Print them out to make sure it’s accuracy and don’t forget to take notes. After having gathered from your maps, it’s time to put your feed on the hunting area to fine tune them.
Trail cams are the last step of deer scouting to help you know:
- Whether the animals are living in that hunting land or just cruising through it during a rut. How many of each?
- Ratio of bucks to does
- Identify their travel habits
Whichever spots you think are potential, don’t forget to make notes.
Check the wind direction
Animals, especially bucks, have a very sensitive sense of smell that within miles away, they still enable to notice your presence, which might hurt your chances at hunting them that season.
Wind direction is a deciding factor for that.
Think about the terrain: Are there low spots? It is hilly?
Search for is the one downwind of the animals.
Familiar with other dangerous animals and toxic plants
Safety is the top priority. It’s essential to pick a safe hunting spot that ensures no dangerous animals or toxic plants around it.
Be aware of thorny bushes, poison oak, poison ivy, and shrubs since they could make you sick or hurt. Not mention that the animals rarely come close to such spots as well.
Place a stand
After finding out a good place that not only provides a clear line of vision but also requires minimal modification to prevent scaring off the animals you want to hunt, place a stand.
A good stand should be laid on a good tree. I mean it should be on stable land while growing healthy and sturdy to support your weight. The tree also needs to be downwind of the animals and easy to access without disturbing the herd.
It should be well-concealed plenty of weeks ahead to let animals be familiar with passing it. The longer it’s placed there, the better.
The stand itself should be durable and heavy-duty enough to withstand your heft as well as gear. If you have no idea of which one to choose, this article is worth-a-read.
Other additional features
Create a good shooting lane
Intertwined with looking for a good hunting spot, creating an ideal shooting lane is incredibly important. Find a tree with the smallest removal branches to avoid interruption while ensure you’re well-hidden during a hunt.
Cover your scent
Before stepping out into the hunting land, make sure that your scent is perfectly masked. The same with hunting gears. For more information, consult my article about “Morning deer hunting tips for beginners”.
To sum up, a good hunting spot should satisfy these requirements:
- It should be on steady land or a secure and safe tree if you’re scouting from there
- No dangerous animals
- Require minimal modification to avoid alerting animals of strangers in their area
- Wind blows towards you
Hope this article was helpful to you. Thanks for reading!