The little details of summer scouting could make or break your season!
It’s late summer, and we’re all amped up ready to get in the ground blind or stand with bow in hand. Sometimes though, our anxiousness can lead to mistakes during the summer, and however small, these mistakes could make or break our season. So here are some critical reminders, some Do’s and Don’ts for your summer scouting regimen!
DO: Scout from your vehicle:
WHY? Driving roads and glassing in the evening is a great way to see what bucks are in your area, and do this non-invasively. The goal in the summer is to take inventory, and see quirks/patterns of certain bucks and make note of these for hunting season. You can find out a lot of information (entry and exit locations to food sources, size/age class of deer, how deer use a property or food source, etc.), with little effort, no invasion. This is also when to start identifying potential shooters, so you don’t have to do this on moment’s notice while hunting, probably in a less than ideal situation (with buck fever setting in).
DON’T: Get caught up walking your hunting area:
WHY? During the summer, and approaching season, you will most likely just educate deer, spook them, and eliminate the chance some good bucks will stay there once fall hits. Too much intrusion into their safety zone, or near bedding areas, will likely push them onto neighboring less-pressured areas, and kill chances you have at them early in the season.
DO: Scout with non-intrusive trail cameras.
WHY? Trail cameras can be another great tool for taking inventory of your deer. Also, putting them in non-invasive areas like field edges, or other food sources is critical. Pick a place that you can easily get in and out without going through whitetail habitat, therefore leaving no scent, sound, or sight of your presence. Do not check these more than once a week, even if it’s killing you! This could be counter productive. The key is not to influence or change their behavior!
DON’T: Scout with invasive area trail cameras:
WHY? It is tempting to put mineral attractants, or feed (if allowed in your state) deep in the woods or near bedding areas. Maybe you have a great stand way back in where you shot a bruiser. Resist the temptation to do this. Unless it is a mobile camera that texts pictures to your phone, you will probably just push deer out of the area and ruin the spot (from coming and going to check pictures) before hunting season even arrives. Stick to your edges where you can drive up or walk easily. Most deer will visit these areas in visible light during the summer (for road glassing), and the trail camera takes night pictures, so there is no need to intrude.
DO: Quick Scouts, but only when necessary.
WHY? Again, pressure before season can push deer out of your area. Ideally, you have your stands ready and set from scouting in the winter. If not, a quick scout now might be necessary, but it is critical you do so with minimal invasion. Use a windy/rainy day to minimize your scent and noise footprint when scouting. It is crucial you employ sound concealment practices (find out what they are HERE in detail). Try not to invade bedding areas, and get in, and out, as quickly as possible.
DON’T: Do long scouts in core areas.
WHY? Noise and scent in these core areas can be killer. The longer you are in your hunting area, even the fringes, the more impact you will have. This impact should be seen as directly relating to your chances of success. Noises will be made that travel hundreds of yards into bedding areas. Scent will be left on trails, branches, and leaves. Your goal should be zero impact, a clean slate to start the year. The longer the brush is on the canvas, the more paint will be left, so get in and out quickly!
DO: Take inventory of your bucks
WHY? This could really come in handy throughout the year. In most cases, these deer, especially bucks, will change their core areas and patterns before hunting season hits. But that’s not why you’re scouting now. Again, you are taking inventory. Especially, make notes of quirky behaviors and really get to know the bucks. They are individuals that all have their own habits and personalities. Where do they like to come from, bed, and travel? Where do they enter the field or food plot on certain winds? How many days between each showing in the plot, and how often do they show? Any detail you can notice may be key information to help harvest this deer later in the season when he shows up again (you hope).
DON’T: Expect your bucks to stay in the area for opener
WHY? Reality is most buck bachelor groups break up sometime in September, and each buck finds his own core area. Many times this takes bucks you’ve been seeing somewhere else, maybe miles away, and they “disappear.” Don’t fret, but keep what you’ve learned in mind, as deer many times return to their summer patterns/safe areas later in the season or during rut...when you’ll be ready for them!
DO: Make a plan to kill a summer buck day 1.
WHY? Just because the bachelor groups break up, and many deer move off to find their own area, doesn’t mean a few won’t stick around and make your hunting area home. If there is a hot food source, there may be continued action near it right up to opening day. So use your observations to make plans for a day 1 kill on that bruiser, while he’s still a little stupid from the summer.
DON’T: Prep to hunt summer patterns long
WHY? The summer hunt only works for a day or two usually. Deer catch on quick due to you, and other hunters, and as stated their patterns naturally change due to bachelor group breakup and food sources changes. If you continue to hunt these areas, you will probably just end up frustrated. So, if you’re patterning and trying to kill a summer buck, it’s typically a one time deal so plan well!
Employ these summer scouting tips, and they just may pave the way for a great fall!
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