Scouting for deer is something that we all do before, during, and long after the season is over to help us understand better what the deer are doing and most importantly when. Since we certainly want to be in our stands when the deer travel by, it behooves us all to find them before they find us, and it's not always that simple.
While we need to scout for deer activity in our hunting area, we love to do it as well. It's very important to make sure that we don't just look at it as a simple stroll in the woods, but as a hunting mission of sorts, and every mission should have a plan.
It may be deer sign that we're looking for, and we can always leave what we see to memory, but the more time we dedicate to it, the longer we can find ourselves afield. So, it's helpful to make a list of things we should take with us while scouting so that the mission is a successful one and nothing is missed before the moment of truth arrives.
Glassing goes without saying for those who hunt the open prairies and mountainous regions, as they are prone to having to scout from a distance, but having a good pair of binos on hand for anyone can be the difference between looking for sign and spooking deer or other wild game that are present.
Walking slowly and looking into the distance can only help you to practice your stealth abilities, and keep wild animals calm during your time in the woods. Given time, spooked game will come back, but they will be more vigilant when they do.
This may seem like a throwaway item to add, but having your phone with you is a paramount hunting or scouting element in this day and age. Electronics have their place in the field despite the possibility of inclement weather, what with all the ways to protect them in the field, but not having it when you need it, or bringing it without a proper charge can be disastrous.
Between safety and checking your trail camera, your cell phone has become more and more important to outdoorsmen. That leads us to the next item on the list.
There are many good SD card readers on the market today that can let you download your trail camera's information without having to shut it off until you return. Some of the best of these can use your own cell phone to do the job, using it to view images and video, download them, or both.
Card readers are generally small, lightweight, and easy to carry into the field for use. Since these are just another version of all the electronics we now use, you will need to keep it safe from the elements while you are outside.
Even the most experienced hunters and outdoorsmen can get confused as to their location, sometimes in their home woods. While keeping the sun to a certain side of your person can help, not every scouting mission is done on a sunny day, nor will that give you the best reading of direction.
Having a compass on hand is a sure way to tell you which way you are going, even in the deep woods and around thick cover. It may seem like using a compass is as easy as pulling it out and reading it, but practice makes perfect so we should all spend a little time with one in our hands to get good with it.
Most of us don't go anywhere without a pocket knife, but a scouting trip is a great place to carry our favorite fixed blade. Sure, we're not going to gut anything, (yet) but bringing a good knife along is always the right thing for any outdoorsman. A fixed blade knife can assist in cutting rope, pulling out staples in your posted signs, or hammering them in if they are loose.
You can even do some light wood cutting or in an emergency it can help you to build a survival shelter.
A folding saw is easier to carry than pruners or a pole saw, which you probably already took with you earlier in the year to really open things up. A folding tool fits more easily in a day pack with some other simple scouting gear, in fact it can be left in the pack as your go-to tool along with some of the other items on this list.
Scouting is a great time to slow down and check the distances around your stand and your entire hunting area. You never know when you may want to make a change in hunting locations during the season and you're not going to want to guess on distances.
There are many good choices in rangefinder technology to choose from and they are small enough to fit in your pack. Not only that, but most of them will fit right inside your pocket.
Throw an old one in your day pack to have on hand in the event that deer you encounter are being skittish. A few small grunts or doe bleats while you are out of sight can keep deer guessing, but if you grunt, try to set your grunt tube to a higher pitched sound which sounds more like a younger deer.
It's never a bad time to have your camera at the ready while you scout the woods and fields. Some of the best videos that we see year in and year out are those caught at random times when an outdoorsman least expects it. Another good reason to have it along is to take some video simply for yourself in an attempt to keep your hunting area in the front of your mind.
What better way to have that information available than to have some simple short videos that you can watch at any time.
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