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Post Season Scouting Tips?

n6dlh

Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
93
Location
Smitfield, VA
So this year I have learned more about deer hunting then I ever had. Went from private land only hunting to hunting public once again. Have had quite a few sits and really have not had much luck yet on public. I found a spot that limits a one way in and out bedding area and did a sit there on saturday. This place is crazy to get into and out of. Did find a cellular camera that was not there when I scouted. So I am not the only one going in, but can say the human sign is limited and the deer sign is concentrated to an area that most would overlook. Unfortunately this is going to be a better rut spot and early season. I saw 10-15 does there saturday and 3 spikes. I let them walk.

So we are approaching end of season. Im planning on scouting like crazy during the winter while some of the sign is still fresh and the temps are cold. Figure it beats a gym membership. In my old days I just looked for any sign, and understand now that it is flawed logic there. I have a ton of areas marked out and going to work out a process to work down the list of them.

Any tips for off season scouting anyone would like to share. Im not looking for any trade secrets or any spots at all. Just general things that may help some people trying to become better hunters? I always have limited time to hunt so my thought process is to scout like crazy and narrow down to high concentration areas away from extreme pressure. My thinking is I can increase my ratio of deer seen and maximize the limited time I have to hunt.

While most of the areas are really deep, and tough to get into I have some areas marked down that is easy to overlook. I have also been scouting the parking areas and vehicles on days I dont have time to hunt in the hopes of patterning hunters as well.
 

Tjraley2

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Messages
594
Location
Stoughton, WI
What part of the country are you hunting? Terrain type? Size of properties you’re hunting? Vegetation types present? Major features like rivers, clear cuts, pine plantings? What type of bedding habitat is prevalent?
 

Lukeraw7

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2020
Messages
17
When I go scouting new places I look for historical sign and move off of it. In my opinion a single fresh rub or a scrape can often be misleading. I will spend time looking for places that have fresh rubs but I also like to see multiple 1-2 year old rubs in tight with them. I’ll hang a camera in an area like that to see what’s moving through. And I’ll follow rub lines as far as I can. I’ve learned that an area with lots of old rubs and a few fresh ones usually means multiple bucks. The land I hunt doesn’t have very many 3+ year olds. So when I find places like that and hang a camera I usually get pictures of a few different bucks. And I like to start looking in obvious places. I feel like lots of people think that bc its easily accessible everyone will hunt it but sometimes it’s just the opposite. That’s about all I got. I’m not by any means an expert in deer hunter but that works well for me.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

n6dlh

Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
93
Location
Smitfield, VA
What part of the country are you hunting? Terrain type? Size of properties you’re hunting? Vegetation types present? Major features like rivers, clear cuts, pine plantings? What type of bedding habitat is prevalent?
Coastal Virginia mostly and central virginia. Coastal area is pretty flat and mix of hardwood and pines. Lots of tidal creeks and marsh areas. Bedding can be mixed some of the bedding on small islands in the marshland grass. Most of the properties are 1500 or more acres. My personal property is hardwoods surrounded by pine forest. There they bed in the pines so I can get chances there when they are coming in for water or acorns. Some of the areas are cut for lumber and grow quick with pines. Assuming the thickets that are made by the clear cutting will be bedding areas at some point.

Central area is hardwood forrest with timber company pine lots around. Hilly terrain with lots of creeks and natural springs.
 

Allegheny Tom

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Messages
4,172
Location
Western Pennsylvania
When I go scouting new places I look for historical sign and move off of it. In my opinion a single fresh rub or a scrape can often be misleading. I will spend time looking for places that have fresh rubs but I also like to see multiple 1-2 year old rubs in tight with them. I’ll hang a camera in an area like that to see what’s moving through. And I’ll follow rub lines as far as I can. I’ve learned that an area with lots of old rubs and a few fresh ones usually means multiple bucks. The land I hunt doesn’t have very many 3+ year olds. So when I find places like that and hang a camera I usually get pictures of a few different bucks. And I like to start looking in obvious places. I feel like lots of people think that bc its easily accessible everyone will hunt it but sometimes it’s just the opposite. That’s about all I got. I’m not by any means an expert in deer hunter but that works well for me.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Definitely this^^^
New rubs are nice but when new rub lines coincide with old rubs then there is something about that spot that multiple bucks have used for years.

Also, if you get snow, backtrack deer for scouting purposes. It's better than following them to determine natural movement patterns. But, following and jumping deer will show you their escape patterns.

One thing that I look for in post season scouting are trees that hold leaves into the winter. I know that come next November, those trees will offer good cover for my stand. Choosing trees in summer or early fall can be really misleading. They look like they have great cover but 2 months later you stick out like a sore thumb after the leaf drop.
Look for suitable trees for stands at the same time you are looking for deer sign.

And never forget access. The best spot in the woods ain't much good if the access routes suck.
 

dalton916

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2018
Messages
2,266
Flat takes terrain out of the equation for the most part and accentuates what is growing on said terrain.

First, find you a decent sized piece of ground you’re interested in that is pretty much indicative (if you’re a Clemson fan text me and I’ll explain what that word means) of the available land in your area. Get you a GPS or GPS app and start scouting. Store everything you find. If you can store pictures with the waypoints that’s even better.

Walk till you find a trail. Start a track and walk it until you lose the trail. Don’t record where there’s not visible trail. When you find forks drop a waypoint and come back to get the other fork when you’re done with the one you’re on. Mark ALL trails you find. Also mark scrapes rubs and beds you stumble across along the way.

Flat lands are fond of having small drains that aren’t on any map. Mark them like you did the trails. A lot of folks fail to key in on elevation changes in flat land because they seem to be so nondescript. Deer don’t make this mistake, not the deer you’re looking for anyway. If your base maps for the GPS don’t show a creek you find then follow and record it too.

Flat coastal area aerials tend to not show a lot of detail so when you find vegetative type changes follow them and mark them like you did the trails. Also locate management type changes and age class changes. This is all about edge and you need to know where it’s at.

Get this done before leaf out.

Now lay all this information on top of your aerial and find the common denominators. Eliminate the rest. This will put you in the game right off the bat next year.

Going forward, let this property be the textbook you learn from apply to new properties. When you show up on a new property to scout think of the common denominators you discovered on the textbook property and go find them on this property.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I think it’s well worth it to spend 2 months gathering what is 20+ years in the making for most so do it.

<edit to add>

Oh yeah, take up Turkey hunting if you don’t already and use your time Turkey hunting to continue the scouting I described above.
 

n6dlh

Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
93
Location
Smitfield, VA
Flat takes terrain out of the equation for the most part and accentuates what is growing on said terrain.

First, find you a decent sized piece of ground you’re interested in that is pretty much indicative (if you’re a Clemson fan text me and I’ll explain what that word means) of the available land in your area. Get you a GPS or GPS app and start scouting. Store everything you find. If you can store pictures with the waypoints that’s even better.

Walk till you find a trail. Start a track and walk it until you lose the trail. Don’t record where there’s not visible trail. When you find forks drop a waypoint and come back to get the other fork when you’re done with the one you’re on. Mark ALL trails you find. Also mark scrapes rubs and beds you stumble across along the way.

Flat lands are fond of having small drains that aren’t on any map. Mark them like you did the trails. A lot of folks fail to key in on elevation changes in flat land because they seem to be so nondescript. Deer don’t make this mistake, not the deer you’re looking for anyway. If your base maps for the GPS don’t show a creek you find then follow and record it too.

Flat coastal area aerials tend to not show a lot of detail so when you find vegetative type changes follow them and mark them like you did the trails. Also locate management type changes and age class changes. This is all about edge and you need to know where it’s at.

Get this done before leaf out.

Now lay all this information on top of your aerial and find the common denominators. Eliminate the rest. This will put you in the game right off the bat next year.

Going forward, let this property be the textbook you learn from apply to new properties. When you show up on a new property to scout think of the common denominators you discovered on the textbook property and go find them on this property.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I think it’s well worth it to spend 2 months gathering what is 20+ years in the making for most so do it.

<edit to add>

Oh yeah, take up Turkey hunting if you don’t already and use your time Turkey hunting to continue the scouting I described above.
Thank You for that post.
 

bigmike23

Active Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
118
Location
PA
Everyone can write a million different tips, but it boils down to this, 1. Be where there are no other hunters, and stay inside security cover. Period. I'm lucky enough in my neck of PA that while there's a decent amount of guys in the lots, 90% of them are goofs who have no idea what they're doing, stay within 1/2 mile of the road, and aren't willing to push themselves hard. The other 10% can be split into 5 and 5. The first is guys who are willing to walk the distance, miles even, but who still won't push themselves through the nasty stuff. The other 5% are guys like me who are willing to get mutilated by thorns, soaked in swamps, eating alive by bugs, scale a steep mountain, get your eyes hit with mountain laurel, etc. That's what it takes on public to truly be in the game with the mature game. Sure you can get lucky to find a great spot near the Rd like Infalt talks about, but I've found it exceedingly rare. You can quickly break down a map by asking where does everyone else go, and looking where the densest worst cover is and water.
No matter what location you choose, ensure it's fully shrouded in cover or you'll never see a mature animal in daylight. If you find a cluster of hot oak trees, is there cover all around the trees a buck would feel safe in, or cover in the immediate vicinity he could dive into if he was spotted by a predator? Does he have cover to go to that oak tree from his bedding in daylight? If you find an excellent pinch point or saddle, does it have enough cover that a mature animal would feel safe going through it in daylight? Always be thinking about cover.
 

n6dlh

Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
93
Location
Smitfield, VA
Everyone can write a million different tips, but it boils down to this, 1. Be where there are no other hunters, and stay inside security cover. Period. I'm lucky enough in my neck of PA that while there's a decent amount of guys in the lots, 90% of them are goofs who have no idea what they're doing, stay within 1/2 mile of the road, and aren't willing to push themselves hard. The other 10% can be split into 5 and 5. The first is guys who are willing to walk the distance, miles even, but who still won't push themselves through the nasty stuff. The other 5% are guys like me who are willing to get mutilated by thorns, soaked in swamps, eating alive by bugs, scale a steep mountain, get your eyes hit with mountain laurel, etc. That's what it takes on public to truly be in the game with the mature game. Sure you can get lucky to find a great spot near the Rd like Infalt talks about, but I've found it exceedingly rare. You can quickly break down a map by asking where does everyone else go, and looking where the densest worst cover is and water.
No matter what location you choose, ensure it's fully shrouded in cover or you'll never see a mature animal in daylight. If you find a cluster of hot oak trees, is there cover all around the trees a buck would feel safe in, or cover in the immediate vicinity he could dive into if he was spotted by a predator? Does he have cover to go to that oak tree from his bedding in daylight? If you find an excellent pinch point or saddle, does it have enough cover that a mature animal would feel safe going through it in daylight? Always be thinking about cover.
Well did just that today. I was about an hour away from home and scouted a section of public I have been looking at. I went into the second deepest part of it today. I have been learning a bunch about the deer around here. Heavily wooded areas full of brackish marsh, streams, with hard wood. I was able to find what looked like a pinch point on the map. The thing was it was not a pinch point if the water had been up. There is private across the creek with very dense pine woods that is most certainly bedding. The water is not really high and we have had a lot of rain. I found one good area where deer can get away from dogs and hunters. I had to crawl through Briars at one point it was so thick. This went on for several hundred yards then cross a swamp. Hit a nice area of marsh with and island. I was following the marsh edge since my pinch point did not work out. It was a 1.25 miles up the edge of the woods with about another half mile in. After getting through the briar and crossing the swamp I crested a finger. The deer sign was staggering. Old rubs, New Rubs, scrapes everywhere. The island has trees and briar galore with briar thickets around the marsh edge with lots of oaks. Multiple briar thickest before getting to the edge giving about 10 yards of security cover where acorns have been. The ground there is turned up like wild pigs had been rooting but its just the leaves. It is insane.

Then what sound like a horse bust off the island. Jumped a friggen tank! There is plenty of people hunting down the way from here and the clearing edge I walked up. Saw no human sign in where I was. I got destroyed by the thorns.

That same marsh has another long clearing where there is a ton of human traffic. This swamp is filled lots of birch trees on patchy islands. There is a ton of human sign, it is at the edge of the property. The private side has a ton of elevated stands to catch deer coming out of the swamp. There is a large finger that come out on the other side. It is on the public side and I belive the pressure may push them into the public since they have plenty of oak trees.
The place across from the stands is even deeper in and much harder to get to. I have to go in the other way. I know a ton of them are bedded there. It provides the most security for the entire area. Because of the swaps and terrain this section is going to take a lot to get to. One of those ones where there is so much effort if you are going in you might as well stay for the day. At least 2 swamp crossings and tons of thorn bushes. It going to take me months to scout this place. I am breaking it up a piece at a time. I want to have 2 or 3 really good spots. Guys are hunting where there is heavy sign in this place. I have in the past, but I think most of that sign has been done at night. They are very deep in this area.

The plan now is to put out a couple of cameras. Covered about 3.7 miles today. I was beat and called it a day with a good game plan for next time. I have a really good spot pegged for Archery next year and a good game plan. I am marking everything I find. After looking at most parts of the property I will follow the trails while tracking. Should give me some good info on movements. It may confirm that they are coming out of the swamp and flowing all the little creeks and valleys to move around. Buck sign seems to follow the water line around the water and crossing on shallow areas with thick briar. People are hunting the higher ground and deer can move around these valleys without being seen, and run into the swamps if they feel threatened.
 

Robert loper

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
457
This is just my honest My opinion.
Im also not questioning or doubting anyones abilities or achievements.
When post season scouting.
I have gotten caught up trying to hunt like some of these big youtube channels and it just doesnt 100% work for me in my areas. With that said ill explain what i mean.
i have been doing the super aggressive bed hunting tactics for the last two years.
Its super difficult to be consistent in my areas following these what people call (beast) tactics. Which come to find out has been around for probably years and years before these guys have been doing it and spreading these tactics all around the social media platforms.
These basic beast tactics are awesome ive learned a ton from them but im finding the more advanced tactics just do not work well in my areas. I am super active. I hunt 3-4 times a week from September til mid December.
i really scale it back for rest of year only because most surrounding private heavily baits thier properties and it draws deer in from everywhere.
I also belive most of the older animals we so called mature buck hunters go after live on private because they more easily pattern the hunters.
The “beast” tactics are good way to hunt and i love doing it but ive found i need to scale it back a bit and get back to basics.
What I mean by that is keep it simple.
basically i have been scouting crop fields tracking sign back to bedding or suspected bedding. I got to tell ya my sightings have skyrocketed from doing this.
In my opinion the whole find buck beds and hunt them is really creating and making guys get super frustrated and not making it enjoyable.
In my honest opinion keep it simple scout like I described above and mark trees for certain winds. Find what works for you and what works in your areas.
Stay with the basics dont overthink it.
 

jerry_d

New Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
37
instead of starting a new thread -- I will add to this. I took all your advice and last weekend scoured the chain (in northern il). I even text @Jeremy Holden .

I have a few pics. And some questions

pic 1 -- why do people leave up cameras on public?


pic 2 -- this is a deer bed, right?

pic 3 -- not sure if you can see this -- but there are 2 different kinds of scat -- one is small and round, the other larger and clumpier. What does this mean they are eating?



thx!!

camera.jpgdeerbed.jpgpoop.jpg
 

NATHAN

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2018
Messages
587
Location
Very Southern Illinois
Lots of people use cameras on public land. They don't get lost or stolen as much as many of us might think. That looks like a deer scrape. For the scat, the pellets look like rabbit, the larger looks like coyote or fox. I am an expert in none of this.
 

Empostarr

New Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2020
Messages
34
Location
SE Michigan
instead of starting a new thread -- I will add to this. I took all your advice and last weekend scoured the chain (in northern il). I even text @Jeremy Holden .

I have a few pics. And some questions

pic 1 -- why do people leave up cameras on public?


pic 2 -- this is a deer bed, right?

pic 3 -- not sure if you can see this -- but there are 2 different kinds of scat -- one is small and round, the other larger and clumpier. What does this mean they are eating?



thx!!

View attachment 42934View attachment 42935View attachment 42936
pic 1 -- why do people leave up cameras on public? - Not sure, lazy?


pic 2 -- this is a deer bed, right? - I'm no expert, but deer tend to bed down in a more securely covered place, and you may find stuff like hair on the ground from them laying there. That looks pretty out in the open and may be a scrape, especially since it looks like the dirt is kicked around. If this is right in front of the camera, I'd bet they're watching that scrap. I tracked a deer recently into an area I was sure was a bedding area because it was so thick. All I found were heavily used pathways and scrapes at intersections. If I were expecting bedding anywhere in the pictures you provided, I'd have thought behind that tree, tucked up in where the brush is thicker to give them cover.

pic 3 -- not sure if you can see this -- but there are 2 different kinds of scat -- one is small and round, the other larger and clumpier. What does this mean they are eating? - May just be two different deer or one deer eating different things. I'm sure you're crap is different depending on the meal you eat!
 

Coathanger15

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
254
Location
Massachusetts
Cams on public give you plenty of Intel on herd and activity in a spot. Did that big buck I missed on public survive the season? Camera may tell me.(if it's still there)
 
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
89
Coastal Virginia mostly and central virginia. Coastal area is pretty flat and mix of hardwood and pines. Lots of tidal creeks and marsh areas. Bedding can be mixed some of the bedding on small islands in the marshland grass. Most of the properties are 1500 or more acres. My personal property is hardwoods surrounded by pine forest. There they bed in the pines so I can get chances there when they are coming in for water or acorns. Some of the areas are cut for lumber and grow quick with pines. Assuming the thickets that are made by the clear cutting will be bedding areas at some point.

Central area is hardwood forrest with timber company pine lots around. Hilly terrain with lots of creeks and natural springs.
Hardware WMA? I hunt there. If so Let me know if you ever want to scout together. I’ve always wanted to comb through that property. I’ve scouted half of it.
 

n6dlh

Member
SH Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
93
Location
Smitfield, VA
Hardware WMA? I hunt there. If so Let me know if you ever want to scout together. I’ve always wanted to comb through that property. I’ve scouted half of it.
Nope, but that has been on my list. I have property in Buckingham just south of that WMA. I am going to try an lock down 2 closer to home then work my way out.

I may take you up on that. Be cool to see a new area. Not sure if I would hunt there much, but it is nice to have options.
 

Allegheny Tom

Well-Known Member
SH Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Messages
4,172
Location
Western Pennsylvania
.....pic 2 -- this is a deer bed, right? - I'm no expert, but deer tend to bed down in a more securely covered place, and you may find stuff like hair on the ground from them laying there. That looks pretty out in the open and may be a scrape, especially since it looks like the dirt is kicked around. If this is right in front of the camera, I'd bet they're watching that scrap. I tracked a deer recently into an area I was sure was a bedding area because it was so thick. All I found were heavily used pathways and scrapes at intersections. If I were expecting bedding anywhere in the pictures you provided, I'd have thought behind that tree, tucked up in where the brush is thicker to give them cover....
Deer frequently bed in the wide open.
Sometimes it will be in a feeding area. It could be a family group feeding and a couple may lay and chew cud while some others are still on their feet feeding.

And daylight beds will be where they feel secure. They may be using their eyes and nose to monitor surroundings.

Over the years, I've found countless beds in wide open areas. It's a mistake to assume beds are only located in heavy cover.

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
 

Empostarr

New Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2020
Messages
34
Location
SE Michigan
Deer frequently bed in the wide open.
Sometimes it will be in a feeding area. It could be a family group feeding and a couple may lay and chew cud while some others are still on their feet feeding.

And daylight beds will be where they feel secure. They may be using their eyes and nose to monitor surroundings.

Over the years, I've found countless beds in wide open areas. It's a mistake to assume beds are only located in heavy cover.

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
Like I said, I'm no expert! Thanks for the info, I love all of the information shared on this site.
 

Flyerzfan10

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2018
Messages
314
Location
Wapwallopen, PA
instead of starting a new thread -- I will add to this. I took all your advice and last weekend scoured the chain (in northern il). I even text @Jeremy Holden .

I have a few pics. And some questions

pic 1 -- why do people leave up cameras on public?


pic 2 -- this is a deer bed, right?

pic 3 -- not sure if you can see this -- but there are 2 different kinds of scat -- one is small and round, the other larger and clumpier. What does this mean they are eating?



thx!!

View attachment 42934View attachment 42935View attachment 42936
1. why not? Maybe they are trying to see what deer made it through the season.
2. Not a deer bed. It would be flattened out in the shape of a deer with maybe some hair in it. That looks like something pawed at the ground.
3. Different foods... different poop.
 
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