Scouting techniques!

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by flathead willie, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    I've been reading a lot about calls, scents, and equipment, but not much about scouting. I haven't been able to get to the mountains nearly as much the last few years since I moved to the city to care for my disabled brother in law. So I can't scout the way I've done for thirty years. I'm a firm believer in finding out where the deer are going to be, and when they are going to be there. I still use all kinds of little tricks I've picked up over the years. Here's one of them.

    I always carry a spool of thread with me. I use it to "thread trails". I tie it about 18 inches off the ground between two trees. When a deer walks through it, it will break and follow his direction. I tie them all over the area and check them 2-3 times a day, early in the morning, mid day, and late evening. After awhile, you will see a pattern and be able to tell which trails they are using in the morning and which they use in the evening. When I go into a stand, I'll thread trails I pass along the way. As I come back out, I can check them and see if the deer went around me, and adjust my stand/plan. I also use it just before the rut to lay scent trails. I soak a spool in Tinks 69, and as I go into my stand. I tie it off to a tree/root/sapling, and play it out into a semi circle around my stand. Deer will follow it right to my shooting lanes.
    What kind of tricks do you guys use.
     
  2. CountryHart

    CountryHart New Member

    Messages:
    10,914
    State:
    missouri
    If i only had 3 days a year to be in the woods, 2 of them would be scouting. Last sat while walking to where i planned to hunt i stopped along the way to check out a grove of white oaks. Very few acorns but the ground was covered in acorn caps and the amount of dropping was unbelievable. They ranged from fresh to several days old so i knew deer had fed in this spot every since acorns began falling. When it's early in the year like this i look for a tree i know their feedin on. Soon as persimmons begin to ripen, i'll be lookin for coon fruit. The tip on the thread makes sense, i'll try it.
     

  3. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    I'm with you John. The best part of hunting is scouting. I hate to rely on luck. I hope you try the thread. It saves a lot of glassing and leg work. One property I hunt is only 120 acres and is a rectangle going from the field at the bottom to the very top of a mountain, with a big planted pine thicket up the center. The whole thing is terraced off with trails crossing every 30 yards all the way up. I run continuous threads up both sides along the property lines. In a day or two, I can figure out which trails they are crossing on and set up on them.
     
  4. Kip Brandel

    Kip Brandel New Member

    Messages:
    502
    State:
    Glasgow, Kentuc
    I will use flour in a CLEAN baby powder bottle or plastic dispenser to dust a trail to check for movement. I have found others on private property this way also.

    I have Persimmon, Apple and oaks on my property here in Kentucky and I was seeing deer every day until about a month ago, now all the fruit is ripe and laying all over the ground.
    I figured when it got dry they would be back using the Horse's water tank as I saw them there alot but I have found no more tracks and no pictures on my cams. Maybe when the winter starts they will start moving through, I know the neighbors have heard coyotes, I have something for them also when the winter gets set in and they start looking for more food.
     
  5. Poppa

    Poppa New Member

    Messages:
    1,233
    State:
    Pinson, Al
    I use my own what some people might think unorthodox scouting technique.
    I will ride my 4-wheeler to the area I am going to scout. I will carry my .22
    and will pop any squirrel I see. I do not take great pains to keep the noise
    down sometimes I might even break a limb on purpose. When I am scouting
    I am not hunting. I want the deer to know where I am and to get out of my way. I do wear rubber boots and try not to leave no more human scent than
    I have to. I look for hot trails, feed trees that are dropping, scrapes, rubs,
    droppings, beds, muscadines, persimmons, beechnuts,honeysuckles, wild
    crabapples, and I especially look for large tracks. I use a compass to get
    my bearings and to see what wind I need to hunt the area. I figure my best
    ambush points and look for natural funnels using water, clearings, bluffs,
    swamps to my advantage. I will hang a climbing stand no closer than 100
    yards from where I expect my deer to be. When I am satisfied with things
    I leave again not bothering to be quite. I give this spot several days and
    when I return I will be in a hunting mode. No 4-wheelers no noise paying
    close attention to the wind and thermals. I do not want the deer I'm hunting
    to cross my scent if possible. I might have to go way out of my way to
    detour to my stand. I think it is very important not to have a chance
    meeting with a good buck. If a good buck that knows he is being hunted
    or feels threatened will do one of to things he will leave the area or go
    completely nocturnal. I try my best not to spook the deer I am trying to
    hunt.
     
  6. DIESELkat

    DIESELkat New Member

    Messages:
    1,931
    State:
    PA
    One pretty good trick when scouting or moving to your stand is to take a turkey call with you. Deer seem not only to not pay much attention to the sounds you are bound to make when entering the woods or scouting, but also I strongly believe that when they feel turkeys are in the area they become calmer. A couple years ago I was using this technique pretty frequently to enter my stand both in the afternoon and morning, and it seemed to work pretty well. It also had a nice side effect that it would alert me to the presence of any turkeys that are between me and my stand. Turkeys are very vocal in the fall and will almost always sound off if they can hear you, and its kept me from getting busted by them multiple times.

    I started to think about the fact that usually when you hear turkeys in the predawn hours, its because something has got them on alert. I thought that maybe it would be more of a problem than helping me and that it may be spooking deer in the morning. I found a coon sqwall call, thinking that they are more likely to be moving at those times. I tried this for a while and I wasnt sure that it was helping. Im still sticking to turkey calls morning and afternoon and also when I do any high impact scouting.

    Ive heard of using corn starch to mark trails but Ive never used it and Im very interested in the thread idea. I really do believe the most important thing to do is stay as scent free as possible and I leave my best stands (or stands in the area of the best buck) until the hard chase phase. Granted, the buck Im hunting could be 2 miles away from his core area but he WILL return within a day or so because thats where he feels most comfortable and I wont have given him any inkling that I know he exists. I know that some of the time when I dont ever see him, it means he was shot on one of his cross country trips after a hot doe, but I truely feel Im still giving myself the best possible opportunity to harvest him on his home turf.
     
  7. Kip Brandel

    Kip Brandel New Member

    Messages:
    502
    State:
    Glasgow, Kentuc
    If you look in the fawn bleat post I posted that I have taken many deer using a turkey call after I witnessed a deer that was frightened become totally at ease when some turkeys starting chattering and moving through the area. Turkeys vision is incredible and the will rat out about anything in the woods, but if they are calmly going about there business, it seams as an "ALL IS WELL" sign to other wildlife. Watch squirrels when you turkey hunt, they are calmer also when turkeys are doing there thing.
     
  8. derbycitycatman

    derbycitycatman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,299
    State:
    Kentucky
    Name:
    your first name
    Ive taken deer before using a hen yelp while stalking thru the woods. She popped her head up to look around not being afraid at all.

    One thing I like to do is clear out a small square of land and pour some water on it. The mud makes a great place to look at tracks critters are making and when they make them and how big they might be.
     
  9. on_the_fly

    on_the_fly New Member

    Messages:
    606
    State:
    Kentucky
    I for the most part do not do much scouting. I have limitted funding to be running back and forth to the woods even though I would love to. so I have found that putting feeders in and water tubs in well before sesson always seems to bring the deer to me and keep them there all winter long. My trail cam lets me know around about what time they are there and not. In the area I'm hunting after the farmers cut out their crops my feed tubes fire up hot every year and yes for the most part I feed year round but though the summer its mostly coons and squrile and a few hit and miss deer.
    I firmly belive feeding tubes are the way to go they do bring the deer to you. I do not hunt over my feeding sites but on the trails leding into the area. I like to hut about 80 to 100 yards from my feeding areas.
    I too also use turkey call to calm nervus deer down. works realy well but call realy soft and light.
     
  10. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    "One thing I like to do is clear out a small square of land and pour some water on it. The mud makes a great place to look at tracks critters are making and when they make them and how big they might be."

    I also rake out key areas when looking for a big buck or trying to key in on family groups. They are great for tracking.
     
  11. catoon

    catoon Board Clown!

    Messages:
    1,387
    State:
    whiteville
    i will try the thread trick
     
  12. Arkansascatman777

    Arkansascatman777 New Member

    Messages:
    7,782
    State:
    AR
    Heres some good reading and tips for scouting deer. I have found some of my best stands by using some of these techniques.


    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Scouting plays perhaps the most critical role in your deer hunt. A few hours spent out in the field before the season can make all the difference when the season starts. Here are some things to keep in mind as your scout the areas you are planning to hunting the season and what signs to look for.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Start scouting for deer a couple of weeks before hunting season starts in your area is good starting point. Most states open with a bow season or a primitive weapons season. When scouting during this time be sure and where your hunter safety orange vest to identify yourself as not a target.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The winter and very early spring, before the woods have had a chance to leafed out again, is when some of your most successful scouting for upcoming deer hunts will happen. Why even consider this time of the year that's months and months before deer season opens again? The answer is simple: Signs are plentiful and extremely easy to find and read, even if you not a seasoned veteran of the deer woods.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Another advantage of winter time scouting is that mature bucks will tolerate only so much intrusion into their core areas. Winter time provides you the best opportunity to investigate and so you spend as little time as possible rambling around the deer woods in the weeks prior to hunting season. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]You will be reading sign left by deer during the past hunting season and, assuming nothing drastic takes place in your hunting area.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]No matter what time of the year you hunt be sure to look for:[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Locate travel routes[/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]

    Many time deer will use the same travel routes from bedding to feeding areas year after yea. The winter time will allow you to locate them quickly and easily.
    [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]In the fall, these trails can be tough to locate but in late winter and early spring, deer trails show up like interstate highways in the barren woodscape.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]When scouting new land for these travel routes, a bit of common sense is all it takes to put you on the right track. Keep in mind that deer will take the path of least resistance traveling from their food source to bedding areas, providing this path provides amble cover. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Concentrate your search around strips of hardwoods along creeks or wooded belts leading from one feeding area to another. Deer often enter and exit agricultural fields from the same trails. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]When scouting a fenced field, locating these entrance and exit points is easy. Simply walk the perimeter and look for spots where deer have been going under, through or over fences. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Deer hair will often be clinging to barbed wire fences, helping you locate crossing points. Once located, mark these easy-to-find trails on a topo map or by figuring out its distance from a landmark such as a fence corner or tree, so that you can set up to hunt these travel corridors in the fall.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Elevation is another prime element to consider when scouting for primary trails. In hilly country, deer will almost always cross ridges at little "saddles" or small draws where they can go up and over with the protection of higher ground on either side. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Keep in mind that deer, like all wild animals, do things that make perfect sense. Whether the deer has the ability to actually think and decide where to cross a ridge or enter a field is a point on conjecture but, if you ever doubt the efficiency of, say, the whitetail deer's survival ability, consider the fact that they always do things that seem perfectly logical. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Rub Lines and Scrapes[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Nothing is worse than marching into the woods a week before the season opens and disturbing the animals by cutting branches as well as rearranging their familiar environment.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Deer hunters everywhere agree that rub lines indicate only one thing: the presence of bucks. Some rubs are made early in the fall by bucks removing velvet from their antlers. Other rubs are "fighting" rubs where bucks actually spar with a sapling in preparation for the rut. These bouts with saplings can be likened to a professional boxer working out on a punching bag. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The buck's neck muscles are pumped up and, no doubt, his aggressions are taken out while sparring with the trunk of the sapling and its lower branches. Bucks sometimes use the same trees as rubs but, as often as not, rubs are made at random prior to and during the rut. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]There is one exception to this rule: In an area with primarily hardwood trees, bucks will almost always single out that occasional conifer such as pine or cedar to rub.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Rubs are extremely easy to spot in the woods this time of year and they are an excellent indicator of the number of bucks in the area. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Don't use last season's rubs as a landmark for spots to set stands for this coming fall, just make note of their general locations and know that the area is one frequented by bucks.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Old scrapes on the forest floor are much more reliable indicators of potential spots to hang your stand next fall. Everyone who has spent time in the deer woods has seen small "mock" scrapes, often only 6 to 8 inches wide by 18 inches long, almost always made under an overhanging "licking" branch. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]These scrapes are made at random by traveling bucks and never again frequented. It's those big "breeding" scrapes that you want to be looking for. Through the years, deer will return to the exact same spot and make their scrapes year after year. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Prior knowledge of deer hot spots such as this can be found during the winter and spring months and locating them now will most definitely help you put venison in the freezer and antlers on the wall year after year during deer season. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Clear shooting lanes[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Locating deer sheds, travel routes and bedding areas are all easier to find during late winter. Once you have located prime travel routes in the winter months, that is the best time to clear shooting lanes for next fall's hunting season. It's also a great time to choose the trees you wish to hang your stands from and take your pruning saw along to clear shooting lanes. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Once the trees leaf out, you can always fine-tune your shooting lanes in late summer by doing some light pruning of new-growth branches. Be sure to leave as much cover as possible in the tree you plan to hunt from. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Once the stand is set in late summer, there is plenty of time to cut little "shooting holes" through the branches.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Shed antlers[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Finding the shed antler of a big buck is most definitely a confidence builder for the upcoming season. On you scouting trips keep you eyes peeled for sheds.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Once you train yourself to look for sheds, you will be surprised at how many you will find. Rather than looking for an entire antler, concentrate on spotting a tine or two sticking up through the leaves. March and April are prime months for locating sheds. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]When doing your early season scouting, wear rubber boots and rubber gloves. Trying to minimize your human scent so the deer and other wildlife won't know your there. Also if you know where your going to hunt on opening day, you should scout at least 2 weeks ahead of time, clear a couple of paths in to the specific area where your stand is. [/FONT]
     
  13. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    I love to hunt thickets. The biggest challenge is trying to find one that has deer AND a place for a tree stand. One trick I use is to cut a wide trail or two through a large thicket a good while before the season starts. Then I put stands at the end of the trails, where the thicket ends and the big trees start. In no time, the deer start using these trails to get in and out of the thickets. A farm I lived on had a big thicket running down a ridge to a hay fields. Deer traveled from bedding areas, down through the thicket, and out to the fields in the evening. There were no big trees in the thicket or along the edges of the fields. I went out during the summer and used a weed eater with a blade to cut a big trail through the thicket. I put two "dog legs" in it. I got quite a few deer by sitting on a 5 gallon bucket, in the bushes, at the dog legs. The deer would come down the trail, turn 90 degrees, and give me a great broadside shot. Sometimes it is easier to get the deer to come to your stand, then to figure out where they are going to be, and when.:wink:
     
  14. lance

    lance New Member

    Messages:
    2,658
    State:
    kentucky
     
  15. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    ["I for the most part do not do much scouting. I have limitted funding to be running back and forth to the woods even though I would love to."]

    That's been my problem lately, since I got married 3 years ago and moved to the city, an hour and a half from my hunting grounds. I've been hunting mostly National Forest since then. All the scouting in the world doesn't do much good there since the woods are full of tourists, hikers, bird watchers, campers, etc. Once Black Powder starts, the woods will be full of people pushing deer out of their patterns.
     
  16. Scott Daw

    Scott Daw New Member

    Messages:
    2,002
    State:
    Allentown, Pennsylvania
    To me after season scouting is vital. I use mapquest and print screen aerial maps of my hunting areas. I do have a topo map of my local state gamelands. I take my garmin etrax with me and walk all the deer trails post season and mark them on the aerial maps. I'll save points of interest in my gps. my local sgl has several sawtooth oak orchards where the deer will hit up before touching the other acorns.
     
  17. azcataholic

    azcataholic New Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    State:
    arizona
    I will definitely do the thread trick. I have been scouting elk before the season. I have set small pieces of wood on a fence only to find it knocked off the next morning. I don't have an elk tag this year but sure enjoy the scouting. Will have to quit soon don't want to mess hunters up.
     
  18. flathead willie

    flathead willie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,241
    State:
    Virginia
    If you thread trails, it helps to rake out a small area near it to help with tracks. That way you will know if it was an animal or a hunter that broke the thread. Good luck!