Post Season Scouting Tipson Feb 5, 2013
Story contributed by Todd Koenig of recordingtheoutdoors.com
Think back for a moment. Was your deer season what you expected? Good or bad, now is the time to make it better. There are several reasons why you should definitely be in the woods right now scouting for next year. Personally, I like to scout year round; however, late winter (post season) is an excellent time to do this. Deer seasons have closed throughout most of the United States and the spring turkey hunting season hasn’t opened. February happens to be one of my favorite months to scout for several reasons; temperatures start to moderate, daylight hours are growing, and bucks have lost their antlers. Scouting now allows you to get a great head start on next hunting season.
When I find a rub line, I like to mark them in my smartphone’s GPS hunting app. These areas tend to be utilized season after season.
Best Time To Scout
Scouting now during the post season gives you plenty of time to organize your hunt locations and decide which ones will be at the top of your list. With the absence of leaves and possible snow on the ground, deer sign such as trails, rubs, and bedding areas can be seen quickly and easily. This will allow you to make calculated decisions regarding the upcoming season. Post season scouting is also a great time to do any necessary prep work to the area without negatively affecting the habits of the deer during hunting season. This can include cutting shooting lanes or moving pre-existing stands.
Outside of the rut, deer are relatively easy to pattern. They need food, water, and a secure location to bed. Ideally, these areas will be in close proximity to one another. Add to the mix thick swamps and escape routes and the deer will be very content to stay in the area year after year. While these patterns do change for bucks during the rut and for all deer based on seasonal food sources, bedding areas remain pretty consistent. In addition, post-season is the time to look for clues regarding which bucks survived and to map out food sources and stand locations. I like to find the travel routes between these feeding and bedding areas to increase my chances of encountering deer as they move through the area. If you expect hunting pressure in your neck of the woods, then the escape routes are also potential locations to make note of.
In the past I have used Google Earth to review potential scouting areas. Today, I use my smartphone with a hunting/scouting app to examine the landscape. There are also great topography maps that can be purchased through companies on the internet. Any of these options will give you aerial and topo views of the terrain allowing you to pinpoint areas of interest.