Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scouting and Deer Sign

Courtesy of Aliexpress.com
Welcome to the late part of the summer.  I am sure by this point that all of you who hunt are scouting, putting corn out, setting up trail cams and viewing some amazing pics (please email them to us and we will show them on our Facebook page).

Collectively, deer hunters begin to get a little geeked up right about now.  Here in Louisiana, we are less than 50 days away from the start of Bow season.  The excitement level is building and my wife is already starting to get annoyed at how much I am talking about deer...which means I have my priorities right for now LOL!

Courtesy of Apple Creek Ranch
This brings us to a very important aspect of deer hunting which is scouting.  How do you go about doing the necessary scouting without invading the deer's turf so much that you push them out of that area?  How much is too much?  How little is too little?  What is the best deer sign anyway?

We picked up some new property to hunt this year.  It's a mix of hardwood, open fields and high-lines and planted pine.  I can't help but to tell you that we are thrilled with it and am looking forward to opening day.

We began to scout the area by hanging on the oil roads leading into the property.  These well established thoroughfares are excellent ways to get a broad view of your land without spooking the deer.  The deer are familiar with trucks and vehicles moving through on these roads regularly and even humans working in these areas.

Courtesy of hunterlandowner.wordpress.com
Just off the roads, tracks are plentiful and trails are easily visible running back into the tree lines.

Once we can determine where the deer are cutting across, we try to use the high-lines or brush-hogged travel lanes to do a deeper scouting.  I am not a big proponent of walking into a deer's bedding area or going deeply into a "sanctuary" area.

The goal is to get a good idea of where the deer are and or moving through.  Once that is determined, set out some corn or other attractant with a trail-cam and see if your hunch is accurate.

Courtesy of blog.catbirdnotes.com
So which sign is the most important?  Is it, rubs and scrapes, clearly defined trails with frequent use or skat?  Kyle Estep, the Chairman of our Board at Handicapped Outdoors answers that question like this:

"After scouting for an hour or so, I saw some real good deer sign."

Me: Which was?  Kyle: "Well, it was the deer itself.  I jumped one and it ran away.  Now that is real, real good deer sign."

There is some deep truth to his statement.  In our recent scouting efforts, we have put eyes on 5-6 deer during daylight hours.  You can't beat that scouting report.

Courtesy of Bentler.us
All of the tracks, skat and other sign cannot outweigh visibly seeing the target animal during the targeted daylight hours.  The other pieces are important but I would make an argument that they can be misleading.  Last season, I saw a ton of sign in my favorite hunting area.  It was obvious that they were there.  I even caught a massive 6-point and countless doe on camera during daylight hours.  But I never once laid eyes on a living deer while prepping or during the season.

The season before, we routinely encountered deer or heard them leaving the area as we approached.  We had success the previous season but last year not one shot was fired.

Best of luck to you as you prep.  May your scouting go as well as our is this season!

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