Don’t Overlook Anything While Scouting

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By: John E. Phillips
By: John E. Phillips

Most archers who scout for deer try and locate an area where the deer are feeding or a trail where these deer are moving to and from food to take a stand. But the most-successful bowhunters travel several steps further and read the signs much closer, longer and harder, before they decide to climb a tree to wait on a whitetail to show-up.

The late Clarence Yates of Sterrett, Ala., who had taken more than 100 deer with his bow, put it best when he said, “I’m not just looking for a place in the woods to take a deer, but searching for the very-best place in the woods to try and arrow a buck. To be consistently successful in bagging deer with a bow, the archer must know all of the places in the woods where he hunts that there are to take deer. Then through the process of elimination, he determines which region is the most-productive to bag a deer on the day he plans to hunt. That decision is made through a close scrutiny of every detail about the hunt on the day of the hunt.

If you want to end up a shot like this, you have to scout smart.
If you want to end up a shot like this, you have to scout smart.

Let’s consider an example and see how little details in scouting make a difference in whether or not an archer takes a whitetail. Generally I like to bowhunt on about 800 – 1,000 acres. No matter how much land I have permission to hunt on, if I narrow my land choice down to this size, then I can begin to learn the land. I want to become intimately acquainted with every tree, creek, trail, hill and thicket in my hunt area. By doing this, I will be able to select five or six spots where any bowman will put-up a tree stand, because the deer sign will be there. But to make the best stand choice on the day I plan to hunt, I can’t overlook these little details, and must ask questions:

 

  • “Which area have I been away from the longest that has had the least amount of hunting pressure? I’ve found that deer are more likely to frequent good hunting sites when their chances of seeing hunters there are less. In other words, the least amount of hunting pressure that’s put on a region, the more likely the hunter is to see deer there during daylight hours.

 

  • “Which one of my hunting regions can I approach with a favorable wind? The wind direction on the day I’m hunting helps to determine where I’ll hunt. To make the proper stand choice on hunt day, I must know the direction in which I’ll have to walk to my hunting site, and what wind conditions are the most favorable for that particular stand.

 

  • “Which stand has had the most deer activity of the sites I’ve picked? Oftentimes because of wind direction or due to the site with the most deer activity also has had the most hunting pressure, I won’t choose to go to the spot where I’ve seen the most deer sign. But I may pick a place that has less sign, a favorable wind and less hunting pressure.

 

  • “How much food is left where I plan to hunt? Of my five-potential stands, the region with the most deer sign in it may have had the food depleted due to the deer’s intense feeding. Therefore an area that has more food in it but less deer traffic actually may be a better site to hunt than a spot that’s been extremely active the previous week.

 

  • “What effect is the weather going having where I plan to hunt? If a storm hits on a hunt day, I may prefer to hunt a spot with really-thick cover, rather than an open feeding area. But if a warm front is moving in on my hunt day, I assume that the deer will be active.

 

“Identifying the best place to hunt on the day you plan to hunt should involve more than locating a tree stand site where there is evidence of a great deal of feeding activity. If you overlook small details like wind and weather conditions, hunting pressure and availability of food on the day you plan to hunt, your entire scouting program may be just wasted time.”

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To learn more tips on bowhunting success check out How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows, available in both kindle and paperback click here http://amzn.to/11dJRu8. Click on the look inside feature to see the table of contents and read 10 percent of the book free.

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