The last few weekends have either been spent getting gear cleaned, organized and stored for the upcoming hunting season(s) or hitting the woods to do a little scouting of old and new places. Since I'll be hunting South Carolina for the first time in 10 years, I've been driving down an hour and a half from my house on Sundays to scout with my father and grandfather. They've driven me by places I used to hunt when in my teens and we have walked new places I have never been to before. Let's just say the amount of deer sign we have been finding has me pumped for the October 1st muzzleloader opener down there in the Upstate! I foresee a stocked freezer of SC deer just due to the number of good places we have to hunt, long season and liberal bag limits. Not to be forgotten, I've also been checking out a spot on Alcoa where Paul was blessed to take a mature doe last December on a hunt with me. We planned to cover the whole parcel of land one Friday, but a boot blowout back at the truck after making our way through one half of the area didn't let that happen. But we did a test run with my boat (a 10 minute boat ride saves us a mile to mile and a half walk!) last Saturday with our friend Seth, the cool morning making us all ready for deer season to get here. Parking the boat near just a 100 yards from a tree we had picked out for Seth, we were able to make a quick and quiet approach to said tree, validating the use of the boat come hunting season. But the day was just not for a test run, we let Seth practice using a climbing stand, got a video setup picked out and bushwhacked our way through head high weeds and briars to see where the deer that accompanied Paul's December doe had went to. Outside of a few Sundays in September scouting in South Carolina, my pre-season scouting will end on Monday morning at Alcoa after hunting the North Carolina dove season opener with Paul; I've got to get a tree picked out for next Saturday afternoon (that's right, bow season opens here in North Carolina a week from today!) so I can watch some oak trees from afar in order to pick out an ambush spot for the following weekend's hunt with Paul. From then on out it's in-season scouting, checking out spots on the walk out after morning hunts, during midday and on the walk in during afternoons.
With archery seasons (and gun in the lowcountry of SC) for whitetails, mulies and elk starting up in August and September across much of the country, I thought I'd start a multifaceted topic about some of the techniques the Inside Out team uses when it comes to scouting, particular when it comes to Odocoileus virginianus. Each post will be short and sweet, trying to hit the core of each particular "practice" and if you the readers want more in-depth information or a detailed look at a certain thing we do, just leave us a comment so we can give you what you want. With all that being said, let's dive right into what I think is a key principle to our whole process when it comes to scouting for any hunting season really: When and where.
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!
As you know from my blog post Saturday night, we were out stomping around a section of the Butner-Falls of Neuse that morning and I decided to take advantage of us putting some miles on our boots to get some video with my Go Pro. So without further ado, here is our first short video for the year.
Sometimes the great ideas that we have just need something to bring them to the forefront. The Inside Out team will be putting our talents to work and sharing our knowledge and love of the outdoors with anyone who wants to listen.
Curran's Outdoor Adventures
GoBlog (Get Outdoors)
Grants Blog (Growing Deer TV)
Hunt Like Your Hungry
inFOCUS (Campbell Cameras)
inMotion (Heartland Bowhunter)
Make It Happen Outdoors
Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
The Rivah Blog
The Will to Hunt
Wired to Hunt