Why You Should Start Scouting Your Land Year-Round
As 2018 wraps up, we can’t help but to start thinking and dreaming about the 2019 whitetail season. Maybe this season was your best one yet, or maybe you didn’t fill a tag, however, either way, next year is just around the corner and the preparation starts now.
We have stated in previous blog posts that the off-season is a very crucial time to prepare if you want to be successful during the season. Off-season target shooting, surveying trail cameras, and managing your stands are all important tactics to keep active during the off-season. However, we feel that one of the most important, and often overlooked, tactics is scouting. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “I always scout before the season starts,” but, how early do you start is a better question. At HuntWise, we feel that scouting is something that should be done year-round by serious hunters, as terrain and conditions are changing all of the time on the land that we hunt.
Here are 5 tips on how to scout during the off-season and why enduring those “not-so-nice” weather conditions that winter/spring will give you an advantage come fall.
Locate Bedding Areas and Food Sources
Bedding areas and food sources are two of the most crucial elements into unlocking a whitetail’s world. Bedding areas are the key role player during rut-activity, and food sources will often help you locate whitetail during the late season or post-rut. In other words, both bedding areas and food sources affect deer behavior year round because it drives their motives to be active. More times than not, deer will typically be bedded near a food source, and that is why you must locate them. Typically, you will want to scout for areas such as oaks that might provide whitetail’s with acorns, or trees that could possibly be dropping fruit. If you are taking note of these areas during the off-season, your odds of success will go up. We like to use our HuntWise markers to keep special note of these certain areas, that way it is easier to access whether or not a change in our stand location is necessary.
Find Thick-Covered Areas
Next, when scouting and assessing whether or not you should move your stands during the off-season, it is important to find areas that have thick-coverage during the off-season (particularly in winter/spring). Locating proper coverage is important because it provides the whitetail with coverage for bedding, fawning, and other activities that deer will carryout with only if they feel safe. Therefore, it is best to assess these areas during the winter and spring when many of the leaves/brush has fallen. This will give you a better idea on where you want to hunt because it will resemble the rut and later-season much better.
Take Note of Scrapes, Rubs, and Licking Branches with your HuntWise Markers
Using your HuntWise Markers is crucial when scouting during the off-season. Why? Well, they allow you to more easily see when buck signs have changed. If your are constantly taking notes of any changes in rubs, scrapes, and licking branches near your stand, your hunts for the upcoming season are most likely going to be more successful. Again, this is the perfect time to utilize your customized markers on HuntWise, as you should be scouting multiple times throughout the off season. Doing this will help you better pinpoint any changes you might have experienced in deer activity. Therefore, while you are scouting, take a few extra moments, and mark how close these signs are to your stands, or mark if they are no longer there, which means that buck has left that area.
Spooking Deer is Not as Big of a Deal
Although we never want to spook a deer, it is not as big of deal if it does happen when you are scouting in the winter or springtime. Spooking a deer during this time of year will allow the buck or doe proper time to settle back into their area, and hopefully, make their way back to their bedded area. Therefore, it is very crucial to scout during these times as you can check out the area a little more in depth, and take your time, rather than rushing right before the season begins.
Look For Antlers (Go Shed Hunting)
Many whitetail’s will shed their antlers during this time of year before growing their new set in the spring/summer time-frame. Therefore, searching for winter feeding and bedding areas can help you, often, locate big antlers while scouting. To read more on the importance of shed hunting, click here to read our blog called 9 Tips and Places For Shed Hunting.
Putting It All Together
Overall, we want to see you succeed year round. Whether that during gun season, or practicing archery during the summer, we want you prepared. Therefore, take the time to locate your favorite hunting locations and then, conduct several in-depth scouting sessions. We promise you that you are not going to be disappointed when you land that big buck on your trail cam. Take this time of year seriously, and put in the work.
Good luck hunters, and shoot straight.