Now’s the time to take these post season scouting tips and run with them.
Post season scouting can be a whitetail hunter’s best time to get an informational jump on some of his or her hit list bucks for the following year.
1. Be Aggressive
The reason post season scouting is so effective is because you can get into core areas and not have to worry about bumping deer off your property. Therefore, be aggressive and cover as much ground as you possibly can.
This is also the time of year you are going to want to pay special attention to those spots you save for the rut. Get in those areas and verify that deer are still using them the way they have in previous years. Find out what funnels and terrain features most bucks are keying in on as they travel between doe bedding areas by checking rub lines that funnel through pinch points.
2. Match Sign with the Season
As you’re finding different sign and following different trails, be sure to match that sign with the season it’s relevant to. The most heavily used trails right now are going to be bed to feed trails. However, don’t assume deer will be using the same bedding areas in the early season or rut as they are right now. Think critically when deciphering sign and match travel routes with the season.
In some cases, certain bedding areas will be used year round because they are effective in every season. Also, pay attention to scrapes that are being used late into the season. These are year round scrapes and are great to hang cameras on in to inventory the bucks on your property for all 12 months on the calendar.
3. Locate and Trim All Potential Stand Sites
Things change year to year; limbs grow, trees die and fall, and Mother Nature causes issues that are going to potentially change the way deer move throughout your property or around your stands.
This is the best time of year to climb up into that go-to rut stand and change shooting lanes, or hang it a few trees over to cover a new travel pattern. Use information gathered throughout the season to go ahead and make those changes now.
4. Map Findings
I like to carry a paper or laminated map around to mark distinct rub lines or bedding areas. Another great tool for this is the multitude of phone apps that allow you to set distinct markers.
While you’re wandering through the woods and seeing different scrapes and rubs, they may appear random until you start marking them on a map and notice the patterns they create. Locating doe and buck bedding areas is crucial to the success of a whitetail hunter. Being able to dissect them on a map will help determine how a buck is most likely to travel to and from them.
5. Google Earth
A 2D map with different sign markers on it can tell you a lot about how deer are using your property. However, taking those markers and inputting them to Google Earth makes identifying terrain features that affect those movements really stand out.
A topo map can do the same, but it takes a skill set that Google Earth doesn’t. Map those bedding areas on Google Earth and then pinpoint distinct terrain features (creek bottoms, pinch points, saddles, etc) that are going to change the way a buck will travel to and from those bedding areas. Once you have them marked, get your boots back on the ground and verify the use of those features through sign.
Be sure to check back for more great offseason tips and tactics, including a shed hunting article that breaks down how to scout each specific area of a bucks home range.