Week 10: Start Scouting

Abraham Lincoln once said, give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe. Because of his preparation, he was able to go on to a pretty successful career in pursued profession, politics. Of all the various types of hunting, chasing whitetail deer with a bow takes so much preparation that there’s no better time to start than now. Obviously, your bow needs to be tuned and sighted. But here we’re going to talk about the basics of summer scouting and a couple ways to elevate your chances of getting close to a deer when the season finally does roll around.

There are two main types of summer scouting - there’s the traditional way (setting out on foot to find sign or sitting stand over summer food plots or well-traveled trails) and the modern way (trail cameras). With the combination of the two and a little luck, your mind will rest just a bit easier knowing the work you put in when that September-Saturday sunrise draws the curtain on the new season.

In traditional scouting, you are going to need to devote some time to study the land and deer herd movements. With a hectic schedule, it’s not easy to take a few hours per day to walking your hunting property or sitting in a stand, not to mention the heat and mosquitos. But that’s why the hunting gods made weekends (though they could be a day or two longer, please). If possible, devote just one Saturday a month until the season starts to exploring the hardwoods and summer plots where deer perpetually live and eat. More times than not, the habits you see now will carry over into bow season when the hunting pressure is still low. And while you’re out there, hang a trail camera or two.

Trail cameras come in many different forms these days and are borderline excessive with their functionality. Imagine: You’re sitting at home in your favorite recliner half-watching your favorite hunting show and half-dreaming about sticking a big buck when your phone dings and up pops a picture of a 160-inch ten point on a corn pile you’d put out the previous weekend. This, friend, is actually reality. From Wildgame Innovations to Moultrie, choose a camera that suits your needs. If the property is easily accessible, you might not consider email/text capabilities necessary, but it sure would be fun to show your buddies at work.

While some prefer just hanging a trail cam on a well-used route, others incorporate attractants like corn, salt licks or mineral blocks (where it’s legal) to get good photos. Motionless animals make for better images, especially in low-light conditions. Cameras with a strong depth of field can even be placed on food plots. Whatever your druthers, scouting with a camera is always exciting, much like a box of chocolates, for when you get home and pop the SD card into your computer or tablet, you never know what you’re going to get.

Use these tips in preparing for the white-tailed deer season. Sure, it’s only mid-July, but if Abe Lincoln were a deer hunter, we’d be willing to bet good money that Mrs. Mary might have something to say about the yearly taxidermy bills.