I feel like your approach is similar to mine. Especially because you cannot always control how you access an area. Deer tend to stay down wind and face opposite that way they can smell scent behind them and see what’s up ahead. Moving slowly and making sure you can clear lanes for access limits your exposure. And honestly ground scent tends to go cold after a few hours. Great post and approach mansometimes you bumble onto a set, and cover it with scent. Sometimes you just can’t help it.
two things have improved my success immensely - one general and one specific.
generally now, I scout from start of season to end of season. I only set hunt when I’ve got really good odds of killing a deer. (Usually, sometimes though I am weak and hunt when I shouldn’t). I basically walk all over. The first time I set foot on a property this is pretty random. Once I learn it I become much more precise in my routes, and what I’m looking for. But generally, because I am spending most of my time in the field scouting, I have become pretty good at knowing when I am in or about to be in “good bow hunting set” locations. And I generally slow down in these types of areas so I’m not backtracking or missing details. I’ll typically use maps and knowledge of terrain to plan sections of the walk with hunting in back of my mind. This mindset generally keeps me from just bumbling. But I do try to randomly bumble around early, and get more precise as season(s) go on.
the more precise thing I do, is how I operate once I get on sign. Because I’m already moving slower(because I’m not panicking about having a place to sit that evening, I don’t care if I hunt or not), stumbling into hot sign usually isn’t a surprise. I generally know where it is gonna be, and then as I get into it I’m moving slow. Then I go into “plan every step, don’t backtrack” mode. I immediately look within 50 yards of me in every direction for a set(ground or tree). I’m looking ahead to see where trails or funnels lead. I’m looking for feed trees, or blow downs or bedding cover. I’m looking for anything that tells me the fresh sign I’m seeing is close to the deer that made it. Most times I’m accessing from the wrong direction, and no matter what I do, ground scent or my scent from walking(that’s blowing to the deer where they are)is going to be my downfall. That’s the nature of hunting, and why there’s millions of deer.
but sometimes I get it right going in, and that’s the sets I make on the spot. If I don’t get it right the first time, I typically will move on and hunt somewhere else or continue scouting. I’ll note the spot, and better ways to access it for future hunts this season or next.
Go fast when you’re generally assessing a whole property. go slow when you’re scouting specific locations. Go even slower when you’re scouting a specific set. Having a constant scouting mindset has done wonders for me.
note - if you hunt the same property year in and out, you’ll obviously not be doing as much scouting. I like new dirt, if ya couldn’t tell.