Summertime Prep; Scouting Velvet Bucks & Hanging Treestands

The end of July is getting close which means a couple things for us bowhunters.  First and foremost, archery seasons are just around the corner.  We’re now less than two months to the start of Wisconsin bow season, and less than 3 months until Illinois opens.  Anyone who hasn’t already hung their treestands or started shooting their bow on a regular basis needs to get their butt in gear!  These lazy days of summer also means a great opportunity to glass soybean fields for velvet bucks.  Although you can’t shoot them yet, they’re still pretty fun to look at!

This past weekend I took a trip with my good friend Mike Willand to a new lease he has in Northwestern Illinois.  Mike takes his scouting extremely seriously and spent countless hours walking this farm during the spring looking for not just shed antlers, but analyzing the available deer sign and formulating a plan for this fall.  As all successful hunters know, the more work you put in now the more successful you’ll be later and if that holds true, Mike just may come home with a truck full of bone come October.

During this July scouting trip we had two primary goals.  Number one was to hang another treestand specifically for morning hunts.  The way this particular farm is laid out, only about 1/2 of it can be hunted in the mornings without cutting across the primary food source and bumping any deer that may be in it.  So having plenty of options for wind directions is a must.  With a little help from his Treehopper belt, Mike was able to safely hang his treestand in no time and we were off. 

The second goal of the night was to try and spot some whitetails in velvet and see what kind of headgear they’re sporting.  So after sweating our butts off hanging the treestand Mike and I split up for the evening’s scouting mission.  Unfortunately my mission was an utter failure.  I saw a doe and fawn in the field on my way out and that was it for the rest of the night.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada!  I did however get in a few good games of Blackjack on my phone.  While I was keeping myself occupied with that Mike did manage to see a couple deer, including one decent buck he has nicknamed “Little Rob”.  Unfortunately a gang of coyotes came onto the field about 30 minutes before dark and cut our scouting mission short.

Check out the video below for a full recap of our stand hanging/velvet scouting adventure.

The view from my luxury box back in the weeds with the flies, ticks, snakes and blackbirds.

Supplies for the evening: Camera bag, cell phone, gloves, water, Gatorade, and a granola bar.

Nope, no deer here!

Justin Zarr
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Justin Zarr

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Justin has been bowhunting for more than 25 years, harvesting a number of P&Y whitetails in his home state of Illinois during that time.  He co-hosts the popular bowhunting show 'Bowhunt or Die' and is a frequent guest on numerous hunting podcast.  Justin lives in the NW suburbs of Chicago with his wife and 3 children.
Justin Zarr
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  1. richard music says:

    weve been going out every night glassing bean fields as well as setting out new cameras in hope of getting a glimpse of a hammer, only time will tell.

  2. says:

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  3. JZ good topic! With that last pic it looks like your up a little bit higher and just remember in the evening your scent carries down in that part of the country. T

  4. Justin Zarr says:

    Come on T – what do you take me for, an amateur? The wind was in my face all night buddy. Allllll night.

  5. John Mueller says:

    If I don't melt first, I might take my camera out to the food plot this weekend and see who shows up. Been getting pics of some good ones on trails leading to it lately.

  6. J-dANCER says:


    Could you and the staff at do me a huge favor. Could you write a article about Spine and arrow flight. Broadheads are highly debatable. ARROW FLIGHT KILLS. If your arrow is stable or if both nodes are together….you could duct tape a butter knife to the end of a arrow and send it through a T-REX.

    Step 1.
    Get the correct spine for your set-up. Draw weight, arrow head weight, and poundage.

    Step 2.
    Paper tune, paper tune, and paper tune.

    Step 3.

    This is directed at some of your readers not the staff. ARROW FLIGHT KILLS. NOT POUNDAGE, OR THE BOARD HEAD. Stable arrow with all the energy behind the tip… can't stop it. Bone is no match. As bow hunter I feel we need to educate so we kill cleanly and quickly.


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