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Is Spring the Most Important Season for Whitetail Hunters?

3 compelling reasons it could be!

I trudged through the spring mud and brush and finally arrived in the grassy

opening I’d been thinking of since last season. The winter snow had finally melted, and I could see thick, hoof-worn trails in all directions merging to where I now stood. The dirt revealed that deer used this area season after season, and currently as well. Surrounded by fields, and almost impervious to most outsiders, I’d often wondered if this was huntable and produced good activity year after year. A glance to my right revealed a funnel made by the edges of brush and head-high grass which came together in a sharp point. Several wrist-sized rubs from the previous fall highlighted the corridor, completed this arrow of travel like neon sign. A good buck had used this last year, and traveled here often. Glancing around, I quickly found a tree I thought was climbable, noted its location, and left.

Six months later I found myself in the October lull looking for a consistent spot to see deer funnel by - potentially a nice buck. My mind drifted to this location immediately. Early the next morning I packed up my gear, hiked in and setup (without having been here since), and arrowed a nice public land 8 point a few hours later. My little spring walk had just paid off, big time!

The more miles I get on my hunting boots, the more I realize that scouting is the #1 thing leading to success. Knowing where and when deer are currently active, and how to hunt them is paramount to just about anything else. I’m also realizing that this intel can be gathered about any time of year, as I was reminded last October 13th as my arrow connected with its mark. You see I believe spring, probably more than any other time, is the absolute best time to find your intel for hunting season success. Here’s why:

A FULL MAP: In the cult classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the Nazi’s are desperately searching for the ark of the covenant. A real bad nazi (even bad on the nazi scale) has obtained the map to its location, but the problem is that he unknowingly has only half the map. Despite their incredible manpower and effort, its of no avail. They spend all their time and energy looking in the wrong place. Indiana Jones, however, finds the prize with relatively little effort and time due to having a complete, full map (and of course with the help of his trusty whip).

This is a lot like scouting during season, vs. scouting in the spring. During the season you usually are just seeing what is going on at that moment. This is good, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t help you see the full picture and predict what is mostly likely GOING to happen. Having half a map can lead you to draw wrong conclusions, hunt old patterns/sign, and potentially be in the wrong place at the wrong time (wasting valuable hunts). When you gather your intel in the spring you are seeing a full season of activity, AKA the full map. You have ALL the info, and can make better decisions about what will probably happen next, and what you should do based on this full picture. By having a whole season of data, and with a little detective work, you can make good predictions about what deer will do, where you should hunt, and therefore be ahead of the curve instead of behind it. There’s a lot more confidence in your decisions, and way less wondering what’s going wrong. Of course hot sign is always the best kind and should be hunted immediately, but with the full map of spring scouting you will have a much better grasp of what’s going on, and avoid the face-melting frustrations of limited information.

NO PRESSURE: Everyone knows, that if you squeeze a ketchup packet hard enough, or accidentally sit on it (I’ve never done that..) something is going to give. What will happen is predictable.. the pressure will cause catastrophic, uncontrollable results. Hunting is no different. Hunting pressure causes changed whitetail behavior, ruined hunts and hunting locations, and similar results. The deer are simply “squeezed out” to other locations by the slightest intrusion. During the season, we are (and should be) reluctant to push too far into certain areas leaving scent or creating racket. Scouting and hanging sets can cause enough disturbance to ruin a spot even before we hunt it. Spring scouting eliminates this. You are free to explore all areas, even deep bedding areas, and know exactly the lay of the land and how deer use it. There is no pressure, as this intrusion will be long forgotten by deer come hunting season, when you will have all your spots set and ready to go, with no pressure.

YOUR FRIEND THE CLOCK: Since you’ve done your homework way ahead of time, now you don’t have to feel rushed to find that hot spot, figure out how to hunt it, and how to access it while you’re hunting. You have months to do this and get your plan in place. Planning gives a big advantage in any tactical situation since you can really think, rethink, plan, and eliminate potential mistakes when time is your friend. If you’ve ever had the experience of scouting, finding the best sign, trying to find a good tree or blind location, figuring out entry/exit routes, and attempting to execute a good hunt in one day, you’ll know that the clock can be your worst enemy. It forces you to make decisions on less data, leads to mistakes, and sometimes can just run out on you. I’ll admit this has happened to me, and left me kicking myself due to hunting a less than adequate spot, having a less than great tree, or knowing that I just don’t know enough about where I’m hunting. When you scout in the spring, you quickly become that wise old general moving game pieces on a war map, and making keen tactical maneuvers leading to much higher success. You’ve made the clock, your ally, not your enemy.




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