Friday, October 05, 2007

Scouting Tricks


A quick primer for locating a big buck.
I read on Othmars’ site that he gets asked the question all the time. How do I scout for deer? I have done it so long that I hardly think about it anymore. Here are some basic little things to keep in mind while looking. Most people can recognize deer tracks and have a basic idea if deer are around, what we are looking for is a place to hunt in the woods where a big old buck is lurking.
1.You have to get and understand this first point
While you are out scouting, you are not looking for just deer sign, you are looking for one particular deer. The big buck for that area. This helps gets your mind working to how a big buck moves and operates in the woods. Most of the bucks for that area are going to be somewhere around him and if you find him, you have a great chance at all kinds of other big bucks.
Deer and especially bucks are drawn to and use edges. Look for well used trails and rubs on trees leading to these type areas. They love to scrape in those areas and bucks will be drawn to it. edges are from field to woods, cutover to big woods, pine timber to hardwood, thickets to woods.
The bigger the rub, the odds are that, the bigger the buck. If you find a trail with lots of rubs you may be on to something. Follow it as far as it goes. Squat down, you may see a rub at a distance to be checked out and pick up the trail again. Their head is usually about where your knee is and you might miss something by standing too high. Follow the trail to a likely opening to hunt near.
2. Just as Important
When walking through woods always look for openings in the woods. Deer are like people, they move from one opening to another through the woods, their scrapes will be in an opening also. A natural little meadow on a sunny hillside is perfect, or the back corner of an old pasture.
Sharply sloped areas can be skipped, they will not scrape there.
Find scrapes. Pawed out areas they urinate in and come back to. An area with several rubs and three or four scrapes is a hot area to be hunted. A main scrape will have a branch over it that they will wipe their face and horns on.
3. Stand location
You found a hot spot and want to get your stand put up. Try to figure a way not to cross the area you want to hunt. you do not want to disturb the main area that draws the deer.
The best place (in the south) to place your stand is on the NorthEast or East side of the area to be hunted. Predominant winds are from the SW. Winds for the N, NE, W or SE wind will not completely kill your hunt. How far should you get from that hot trail or scrape? It differs but I think 30-50 yards is fine. It’s kind of like squirrel hunting where you sneak up on a tree, except here you are hunting a trail or scrape.
4. Food Plots
When hunting food plots, all you can do is look for scrapes in these fields or large rubs around it and wait him out. This is as simple as it gets and you do not need a whole lot of clutter in your head to find where deer move. Make sure you play the wind here also. Only hunt when and where your scent does not blow into the food plot. You need to not walk across it either.
Big bucks usually don’t just amble around, they could come from any direction but think of where is the most probable place they will come from and hunt for that scenario. If he comes from another direction, you still have a good chance before he knows you are there.
I will always suggest that you make the effort to put up at least two stands to play the wind when you need to. Good Luck scouting!

24 comments:

GUYK said...

A native Montanan I used to hunt with years ago claimed that a White tTail buck would have a territory that it roamed but usually would be over a few acres..twenty or so and that the buck stayed in that area. The trick was to find it or to find the trail and wait for him to come out.

Some year back I saw a documentary where the game people had put a transmitter on a big buck and had it enclosed in a 10 acre plot of heavy brush and woods..then they started looking for the buck following the transmitter..and never did see it although they knew by the signal they were withing fifty feet of it most of the time..

Editor said...

Very true, a big buck will have a very small core area. Locate that and your percentage to get him just went up remarkably. Also, if you turn a big buck loose in your house and it decides to hide, you could spend years looking for it and never find it.

Moose said...

Some great points. We scout in the spring before green up. Easy to see rubs and scrapes and you can walk through bedding areas with little fear of messing up your hunts. Scouting now you leave to much scent and can cause a buck to change his travel. Any earlier and your looking at summer travel which changes and makes the info not so good.

Andy said...

That was an interesting read. I'll keep my eyes open when I'm out squirrel hunting over the next several weeks.

René O'Deay said...

Deer and elk tend to circle around during the day, and their circles circle around too, in cycles.
Hunters and hunter families out West like to camp in the spring and summer in the areas they intend to hunt. They hike, and ride horses and sometimes atvs, to spot deer and elk. try to get familiar with their habits and trails they run. helps to predict where they'll be.
Course in Estes Park, Colorado, and in the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk and deer all run into the town or the park when hunting season begins.
Down below in the area just before Big Thompson Canyon begins, it sounds like a full-scale war when hunting season starts. I'd run too, if I were a deer or an elk.

Matt said...

Good post Rex. Be careful; folks might think you're an expert and start bothering you for tips.

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