While some people focus on just pre-season scouting or putting miles on their boots after the season is out, we look at it as a year round affair. We are looking for last season's rubs and just new areas (along with our regular spots) that look like good deer territory while small game hunting in January and February. Then comes the weeks leading up to and the entire turkey season, during which we continue to check out both old and new areas, looking for last year's sign while chasing a wiry ol' Tom; maybe even stumbling upon a shed antler or two. Then comes what I think is the "fun" part: Summer. We are out there in the heat of June, July and early August checking out creek crossings, trails, fields (where applicable), hardwood ridges, etc. getting an idea of the deer activity in those areas. We look for any changes to habitat, become acquainted with the terrain in new spots and pick out, as well as set up, potential stand sites. Then we like to give all the areas we have been in a month long break before the season starts, hopefully allowing mother nature to get back into her normal, non-human interfering routine and to wash away any of our residual scent. Then it's time to hit the woods in our camo, weapon in hand, to try and put some meat or a trophy on the ground. With that comes scouting while walking to and from stand sites or during midday hours when we have to get our legs moving. And it's not just wood scouting that occurs during the season. We'll change tactics not only based on what we are seeing while in stand or walking around, but also on what we are seeing while driving or what is being heard throughout the hunting community.
It's a full-court press on understanding our quarry that leads us to take this approach and I have to say that it works. These practices have lead to more deer encounters during the season and my two largest bucks on the wall have come directly from in-season scouting the day of or day before they were harvested. So if you take anything from all this, remember that scouting shouldn't be just a one time thing, and definitely not just in one place. Get out there and explore year round, the results might just surprise you!