It’s not too late to scout a last-minute deer stand using these methods.
Most deer hunters try to scout new deer stand locations well ahead of opening day. However, we’ve all had at least one occasion where we couldn’t get out when we wanted to, or perhaps we gained access to a new hunting property right before the season began.
What is a time-strapped hunter to do?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to scout a new property remotely these days. Without even touching foot onto your hunting land, you can easily locate high-percentage deer stand locations using nothing more than some aerial imagery.
Google Earth is a fantastic resource for this, as you can add topographic maps, parcel lines, wetland layers, or even create your own trails and stand sites.
Start by looking for obvious terrain funnel points, such as narrow upland peninsulas, changes in habitat types, saddles in ridge lines, etc. Try to guess potential bedding areas, feeding areas, and travel corridors between them by looking at the maps.
Mark these locations loosely for later on-the-ground scouting.
In the Field
With aerial map in hand, lace up the boots and start walking. Or in this case, pull the rubber boots on. You’ll want to remain as scent-free as possible on these last-minute scouting sessions, even more so since you’ll be hunting it in short order.
Concentrate on the high-probability spots you located earlier, and look for trails, beds, browsing evidence, scrapes, and rubs. You’ll want to confirm your earlier suspicions by locating some type of deer sign.
Once you find a location with positive types of deer signs in a good funnel location, you’re onto something special. The last component is to find a secretive entry and exit route from a main trail or road. Without a good route, you will likely just ruin your new honey hole by tromping right through the best places.
Looking at your printed map again, try to lay out the best possible access trail utilizing natural vegetation or topography to screen your approach. For example, a creek bed with thick brush on both sides can be a good approach. You can also cut the brush from your trail and even rake it if you need a super-quiet approach in close to a bedding area.
Once you have an access trail flagged, it’s time to set your deer stand or blind up as quietly as possible and sneak back out. If deer are used to some human presence where you hunt, drive an ATV in or fire up a chainsaw once in a while to push them away but not alarm them.
Now your last-minute deer stand is in a solid location and you can sneak in quietly. All you need to do is show up on opening morning and you’re off to the races.
All images via Ryan Lisson