For many of us, scouting is half the fun of hunting – and with good reason. There’s nothing like the feeling of finding concentrated buck sign and trying to picture the buck that made it. But scouting is more than just finding good sign and picking a nearby tree on which to place a stand.
Many of us spend a lot of time hunting stands that a buck visits only during darkness. Anyone can go out find deer sign, but it takes experience and thought to find the sign and then select the best possible setup to hunt the deer leaving those clues.
Any sign you find in the woods is a snapshot of a few seconds, and that snapshot doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Think about what was happening when the sign was made, along with the half hour or so before and after. Next, consider where the buck most likely came from and where he might be going.
Next, consider how the sign relates to the deer’s activity. Is the sign related to reproduction, food, water or security?
The answer to those questions will help you determine when the buck was actually there, and also whether that is a good location to try to ambush him.
Of course, trail cameras have taken much of the guesswork out of scouting, but they don’t tell the whole story, either. Many of us are becoming too dependent on our trails cameras and are failing to apply our years of woodsmanship skills to our scouting efforts.
Instead of relying on your cameras for all your scouting intel, use them to confirm your hunches and to stay updated on deer movement.
Careful scouting is great, and trail cameras are great. Together, they’re awesome!
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