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Last Minute Scouting

Jtaylor

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
1,007
So as everyone probably knows, scouting two weeks before season isn't ideal. With family commitments, work, school, etc. before you know it you're 2 weeks or a month out and haven't checked out the hot spots yet. I still don't believe all is lost. I just wanted to start this thread for anyone out there doing some last minute scouting and we can share what has worked or hasn't worked for you guys in the past.

For a little background, I just want to highlight what I've done in the past and it's been pretty successful for locating good deer populations and once and awhile a nice buck. It started several years ago with our state putting out paper catalogs for public land and publicly accessed private land for us to use. These were great because it allowed us to drive to the areas and put "boots on the ground" and check out the areas. In the era of online maps and "virtual" scouting, this has significantly improved our time commitment and allows us to "scout" several properties in a couple hours as opposed to a couple days.

When I'm map scouting, I'm looking for anything that stands out to me. Contour changes, topography, edge habitat, water locations, funnels, I even go a step beyond and turn on a filter that shows different vegetation types, historical fires, etc. Historical prevailing winds are a key item to look at too. Next step is to highlight these areas on the map and go check them out. Once I'm at these areas, I can generally check off most of the areas I had highlighted and center my deer search on a small parcel or parcels within a large piece of land. I look at terrain features and where I can hang or sit with the right wind. There have been several times when the areas I think are going to be hot spots turn out to be duds so it's time to head back to the drawing board and check out the less thought of areas like the little grassy waterway in the middle of the corn field.

Remember your rubs, and scrapes are going to be pretty non-existent this time of year. I key in on old rubs in a decent secured area close to water and food with fresh turds, freshly used browse and fresh tracks. I found an old rub yesterday that looked really old but the broken licking branch still had the leaf attached, so I'd assume it was from last season. It seems like scouting this time of year is much harder and you have to look at the more subtle clues. Then sometimes, you'll find the first 4 rows of corn knocked down like it's already been combined. I'm not saying there won't be any rubs or scrapes, but you have to look at the old sign, fresh turds, freshly browsed plants/crops, tracks, etc. The deer around here tend to be seasonal to an area too depending on the time the crops get taken out and the type of crop planted which is why scouting this time of year tends to make more sense to me.

Alright, so before saying, "You need to stay out of these areas you're only 2 weeks out." I tend to go against the grain because I know John, Sally and his 4 kids have just walked through the same area to go fishing or look at butterflies and the deer don't discriminate against pressure. In heavily pressured areas I think the deer are used to this activity and will go right back to their old habits before season begins. If it's a good area, it's a good area. They'll be gone out of the area before you get to them so in their minds, their safe place worked and prevented an encounter. Our goal is to find a way to sneak into their safe place unsuspecting. Bumping them too much checking trail cameras, food plots, getting to your fishing hole, etc. might make them leave the area for the season though.

I try to get as many places scouted and looked at before season begins. I still have those "ones that got away" from last year in the back of my mind and documented so I know these are decent areas and don't necessarily have to scout so aggressively. I'll maybe do a hunt and scout once just to make sure there is still deer activity in the area and come back in when opportunities are ideal. By scouting and hunting more areas more days of the year, you're effectively putting odds in your favor. Keep in mind they probably won't handle too much pressure and ultimately that's up to you to decide what is too much.

I hope others have successes, failures and criticisms to add because I think collectively if we all share our ideas we'll in turn become better hunters.
 

Bowmanmike

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
711
I feel like @Anobody,i am not scouting now but will be with my saddle on and bow in hand oct 1st when the season opens here.
I did scout in the late winter but am planning to explore many new spots too.
I realize that probably means some days i won't even get set up but that is ok..This year i will not set up unless i think a deer will be by.
Fresh sign is what i will be looking for. I may do some low intrusive glassing to help locate decent bucks.
 

Goldentriangle85

Active Member
SH Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Messages
125
Anytime I can get some me time away from the wife and 3 kids you better believe I’m doing something. Setting a camera, checking out a new area, asking permission. If you have the area dialed in then stay out but if you have an unanswered question that you think you might be able to solve then go for it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

SETXsportsman6

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2019
Messages
357
Location
South East Texas
I'm glad I found this post. This year is going to be a wayyy different experience for me than normal. I've predominantly hunted private since I was a kid. Timber company owned land dominates the hunting landscape in East Texas. But the clear cutting of nearly all of the remaining good woods drove me out of my lease. So I decided this year I'm going 100% public. Ive dabbled on the national forests here and there growing up, but usually just due to circumstance, not preference and never taken seriously.

Due to work, and my recently renewed love for fishing, I only made the time for scouting on one occasion, and that was approximately April or May if I remember right. I've done a little e-scouting here and there, but due to it being 99% thick canopy, Aerials don't offer much and I'm far from mastery when it comes to topo maps and patterning deer from them.

So with all of that said, I'm in the same boat, but with absolutely nothing to go off of from previous experiences. So my game plan is this, I have one day between now and the Texas opener to get in the woods and scout. Ive heard reports from friends that the white oaks are beginning to drop. Thankfully on my last scouting trip I took the time to drop some waypoints of a few isolated white oaks, red oaks etc. But theres a lot left on the table for scouting that needs to be done. I'll miss opening weekend due to working shift work, so my first opportunity will be the Tuesday morning following opening weekend when I get off of nights. By the time I make it up there it will be well into the morning so I plan to get to camp, set up and hit the woods. If I find something showing promise next Monday, I may choose to follow up on that. If I don't, I will scout all day until I find something that I feel is worth setting up on.

I'm planning to spend my time this season focused more or learning and less on killing. I'm more focused on learning to put the pieces of the puzzle together, than I am having the puzzle completed if you see where I'm going with that. At least that's the mentality that I'm taking into the woods with me on day 1. As far as I'm concerned we can all stumble into the woods, randomly set up and kill something. Sometimes it's just meant to be. I don't want to get lucky, I just want to get good.

Good luck to you! Follow up on here and let us know how you're season has been.
 

Bowmanmike

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
711
I'm glad I found this post. This year is going to be a wayyy different experience for me than normal. I've predominantly hunted private since I was a kid. Timber company owned land dominates the hunting landscape in East Texas. But the clear cutting of nearly all of the remaining good woods drove me out of my lease. So I decided this year I'm going 100% public. Ive dabbled on the national forests here and there growing up, but usually just due to circumstance, not preference and never taken seriously.

Due to work, and my recently renewed love for fishing, I only made the time for scouting on one occasion, and that was approximately April or May if I remember right. I've done a little e-scouting here and there, but due to it being 99% thick canopy, Aerials don't offer much and I'm far from mastery when it comes to topo maps and patterning deer from them.

So with all of that said, I'm in the same boat, but with absolutely nothing to go off of from previous experiences. So my game plan is this, I have one day between now and the Texas opener to get in the woods and scout. Ive heard reports from friends that the white oaks are beginning to drop. Thankfully on my last scouting trip I took the time to drop some waypoints of a few isolated white oaks, red oaks etc. But theres a lot left on the table for scouting that needs to be done. I'll miss opening weekend due to working shift work, so my first opportunity will be the Tuesday morning following opening weekend when I get off of nights. By the time I make it up there it will be well into the morning so I plan to get to camp, set up and hit the woods. If I find something showing promise next Monday, I may choose to follow up on that. If I don't, I will scout all day until I find something that I feel is worth setting up on.

I'm planning to spend my time this season focused more or learning and less on killing. I'm more focused on learning to put the pieces of the puzzle together, than I am having the puzzle completed if you see where I'm going with that. At least that's the mentality that I'm taking into the woods with me on day 1. As far as I'm concerned we can all stumble into the woods, randomly set up and kill something. Sometimes it's just meant to be. I don't want to get lucky, I just want to get good.

Good luck to you! Follow up on here and let us know how you're season has been.
I am going with the same approach this year. First time on public but I did some late winter scouting. Lots of state forests around me that i didn't scout. I also have some new private ground i can hunt. Lots of options...
 

rambotogo

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Joined
Oct 24, 2017
Messages
312
Tried this a few times and is not my idea ,but it does indeed work > You will need a good light, gallon bucket, note pad, rubber boots, hip waders etc. and a full day to scout. Find a creek in a area you would like to hunt. Early before the sun comes up get in the creek and start walking when you see any tracks crossing the creek ,take the bucket ,fill with water and wash out the tracks keep walking and washing out tracks for as far as you care to go. Next step wait till 12 noon start walking and taking notes and marking crossings, and big tracks if that is what you are after . As you walk wash out the tracks again . Late afternoon Take the note pad and repeat , by this time you should know where the deer are crossing and when ,set up downwind near the crossing . Good luck
 

bj139

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Messages
4,429
Location
SE PA
Tried this a few times and is not my idea ,but it does indeed work > You will need a good light, gallon bucket, note pad, rubber boots, hip waders etc. and a full day to scout. Find a creek in a area you would like to hunt. Early before the sun comes up get in the creek and start walking when you see any tracks crossing the creek ,take the bucket ,fill with water and wash out the tracks keep walking and washing out tracks for as far as you care to go. Next step wait till 12 noon start walking and taking notes and marking crossings, and big tracks if that is what you are after . As you walk wash out the tracks again . Late afternoon Take the note pad and repeat , by this time you should know where the deer are crossing and when ,set up downwind near the crossing . Good luck
That is such a great idea. Thanks.
 

rambotogo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2017
Messages
312
Where we hunt on a national forest there are a ton of ladder stands around but a lot of them are never hunted . I try to hunt away from them if I can but if I needed to know if there are being used . I would take black sewing thread and wrap it around the first or second step and check it later . Most of the time when they will drag them in there they know they will never drag them back out.
 

Jtaylor

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
1,007
Tried this a few times and is not my idea ,but it does indeed work > You will need a good light, gallon bucket, note pad, rubber boots, hip waders etc. and a full day to scout. Find a creek in a area you would like to hunt. Early before the sun comes up get in the creek and start walking when you see any tracks crossing the creek ,take the bucket ,fill with water and wash out the tracks keep walking and washing out tracks for as far as you care to go. Next step wait till 12 noon start walking and taking notes and marking crossings, and big tracks if that is what you are after . As you walk wash out the tracks again . Late afternoon Take the note pad and repeat , by this time you should know where the deer are crossing and when ,set up downwind near the crossing . Good luck
I'd assume this would be a good way to utilize trail cameras too if you have enough. I like the "old school" methods since it takes zero technology though. Creek bottom tracks are always hard for me to age. I like hunting after a rain or snow for the ease in tracking and never even thought about this tactic. Thanks for sharing a good idea!
 
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