Take advantage of turkey seasons to get a jump on next fall.
Some of the best scouting opportunities occur immediately after deer seasons end, but it's difficult to get motivated to go to the woods for nothing but scouting right after a long, hard-fought season.
You could rest up a few weeks and then go scouting, but, especially in regions with harsh winters, that puts you in a time of year when whitetails are stressed. It's best to avoid any activity that causes them to burn energy - like running from you.
Whether or not you're a dedicated turkey hunter, spring offers some excellent scouting opportunities. It gets difficult as more foliage emerges, but you can still learn a lot, especially in the first few days.
Get some turkey gear together and give it a try. Or, if you're already a turkey chaser, incorporate deer scouting into your hunts. It doesn't require any extra effort and won't detract from your turkey efforts.
If you're a paper-map fan, include a topo or aerial photo of the property in your pack. When you see something interesting like heavy trails, food sources, bedding areas, water sources or potential stand sites, mark them on your map. If you use a phone app, mark them on the app. Also if you use a phone app, check to see if your app allows you to download the map for offline use. That way you can still access the map and mark items when you don't have a cell signal. Another strategy is to use a paper map or photo while in the woods, and then transfer that information to the desktop computer component of your phone app when you get home.
However you do it, you'll have an excellent tool for getting your summer or fall scouting off to a productive start.
One final thought: As you mark a food source, consider including the time of year you expect it to have appeal for deer. A sheltered oak stand is more than worth noting, but it probably won't produce shot opportunities until acorns start to drop. Persimmons are money for the brief time the fruit is ripe, but a stand near persimmons will have a brief window of opportunity.
When you have a detailed map of food and other features, you begin to see how and why deer patterns shift throughout hunting season. You'll see which bedding areas get used at different times, and why. Best of all, you'll have a plan to move from stand to stand that keeps you in the thick of the hottest whitetail activity from the opener to the final bell.
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