Home Main Category Hunting

Scouting: do you?

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 8,155 Senior Member
I ask because, in my world, it's the most important element of hunting outside of basic marksmanship. The only reason it comes in second is because it is always possible to dumb-luck-it into a good or even great animal and, provided you can shoot well, bring home the bacon. Regardless, I have found that the majority of my success hunting has come on the heels of time well spent afield before the season has started. Things have always been a lot tougher when I, or a hunting buddy, try to hit a place cold. My personal motto: the hunting starts before the season ever opens and the killing starts on opening day. Whenever it's feasible, I always like to put eyes on the field myself before trying to take game, even in places where I've hunted successfully in the past. After all, it's never fun to assume the land you hunted last year will have game again, only to find a barren field that's been burned out by a wildfire or killed off by a flood.

I'm not trying to sound smug in asking this question. It's not lost on me that there are working class folks out there, tackling two and three jobs to make ends meet, who simply cannot dedicate more than the handful of days they get off all season to anything other than the hunt itself. I simply want to know if other folks on here actually make time to scout or, conversely, who prefer to see what the winds may bring once the season kicks off.
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,128 Senior Member
    I don't, just hunt small game and pay attention to what else I see.

    Sometimes I'll use that info and set up on it.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,119 Senior Member
    Kinda...I just walk out back for a couple of days in a row and check my watch when the deer come out of the creek bottom and into the field...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    Kinda...I just walk out back for a couple of days in a row and check my watch when the deer come out of the creek bottom and into the field...

    It's funny you mention checking your watch. I consider the watch to a be a real important tool ,especially when it comes to early archery season whitetails. Even on public land, as long as the pressure stays low (which, in rifle states, it usually does), the deer tend to be so patternable by time of arrival, it's almost unbelievable to guys used to the run-n-gun madness/randomness of deer appearances that comes with the rifle opener.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    I've been hunting the same 100 acres for over 30 years, and I still manage to get skunked occasionally, but the same 8 or 10 trails have been getting the majority of the traffic for a lot longer than I've been hunting them. Several trail cams help me pattern them so far as direction of travel and timing is concerned. The hollow where our land is located covers approximately 800 acres, so the deer have established some pretty predictable travel routes. The bunny-hugger neighbor who keeps several corn dispensers running year-round in an effort to keep all the deer on his place just fattens 'em up for the hunters on all sides of him!
    Jerry
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,119 Senior Member
    I have participated in the madness that occasions "opening day"....nowadays it goes something like this....
    Sleep In...
    Leisurely Breakfast...
    Possible Nap....
    Leisurely Lunch....
    Walk out back and get set up...
    Shoot however many deer I have tags for....
    Go back to the house for the truck....
    Hang, skin and dress dead deer....
    Go to bed....

    Honestly, I would enjoy going to "deer camp" again....that was always a lot of fun....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 4,554 Senior Member
    Spent a great deal of time scouting when I was in Colorado but not so much here. The areas are so much smaller that you could walk around them in a few hours. Simple fact of small plot hunting is you are really only looking for a place that could be used as an escape route from the property next door.

    Sako
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    For me it's the Sort of also. I hunt the same places every year. This is my third year on this particular place. So I have a pretty good idea where they will come from and where they will cross. I just need to put out corn, since it's legal here to feed. I will reiterate though that I have never killed a real trophy under a feeder. I killed a 16 1/2 inch wide buck under a feeder once up in Junction Texas back in 1979, but that's as big as I ever saw under a feeder, And I must confess that that place was like hunting in a zoo back then. There were just deer everywhere. Where I hunt now has bigger racks but not the numbers. And I never see a really nice buck anywhere around the feeders. Even on that place in Junction that was rare. I remember that the family that owned that place had ground blinds made of logs and limbs staked out away from the feeder and you could get down on the ground there and you would hunt around the feeder but not the feeder proper. The big bucks were normally slinking around in the brush around the feeder waiting to catch a doe off guard. But they wouldn't get close to the feeder out in the open for any number of doe in heat. Those bucks didn't get big being stupid.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    It is pretty important to me. The lease that I used to belong to consisted of close to 3000 acres and a handfull of us compared camera info and had a good Idea about the patterns of most of the deer on the lease. If you want to be successful, some good recon helps.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,332 Senior Member
    I have a very coherent strategy:

    1. Scout my ass off in the 2 months leading up to the season to locate paths and get myself in shape.

    2. Compare notes with my buddies who are doing the same, up to and including large quantities of trail cameras.

    3. Hunt my ass off, seeing nothing but non-legal does, fawns, and spikes.

    4. Help my buddies drag out the monster bucks they shot in the place I was hunting yesterday/last week.

    5. Luck into a barely legal midget once every (at this point) four seasons and terminate him with EXTREME prejudice.

    Yes I scout, but I tend to think that going to a randomly-selected area on opening day and hopping around on a pogo stick with one eye covered with a pirate patch would be equally effective.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Fisheadgib wrote: »
    It is pretty important to me. The lease that I used to belong to consisted of close to 3000 acres and a handfull of us compared camera info and had a good Idea about the patterns of most of the deer on the lease. If you want to be successful, some good recon helps.


    :that:


    Recon is more what I do. As for scouting out trails and rubs, they're everywhere on this place. The whole place within our fenced area is only about 800 acres so it's not like I'm in a national forest looking for a needle in a haystack. But the shooter bucks prettyop well move in the same patterns during the day, so I just watch. I pretty well know their habits but now and then they change so just watching, or Recon, is the answer, for me anyway. Like I say, at night they seem to run all over the place so looking at tracks and rubs doesn't tell me much of anything about where he'll be moving come daylight.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    O
    Six-Gun wrote: »
    It's funny you mention checking your watch. I consider the watch to a be a real important tool ,especially when it comes to early archery season whitetails. Even on public land, as long as the pressure stays low (which, in rifle states, it usually does), the deer tend to be so patternable by time of arrival, it's almost unbelievable to guys used to the run-n-gun madness/randomness of deer appearances that comes with the rifle opener.

    Oh I definitely believe this. Every year I note when I see deer and hogs and have learned through experience to note the times in my head. And it's amazing the repeat-ability of the times they show up. Now these times may change through the season and around the year, but they are worth noting for a 2 week to a month window of opportunity.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Grizz1219Grizz1219 Member Posts: 424 Member
    I've been in Ny scouting every weekend since the end of July except for 2, when I was in Africa... Trail cameras... scouting... This weekend before the opener we will be out at last light watching for visual sightings in areas we will be hunting on the 1st... We don't buy beef, we only eat venison for red meat... If we aren't shooting deer, we have to replenish it with store bought meat.. And I don't like that idea... In my family, we shoot.. Scouting is VERY important..
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    Not really.

    Some of the places I hunt are too far away to scout, and others get a lot of hunting pressure during the season. That pressure may come before I even start my hunt, especially when hunting elk on public land. Just because they were in a certain spot a month ago doesn't mean they won't be 100 miles away today.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    Kinda...I just walk out back for a couple of days in a row and check my watch when the deer come out of the creek bottom and into the field...

    That's interesting what you said about checking your watch. I am a firm believer that game animals, especially if undisturbed, feed at 6 hour intervals. There are two minor feeding times and two major ones, both 12 hours apart. The minor times last 15-20 minutes and the major ones 30 or more minutes. Because of the duration of the feeding time, the feeding times shift a little bit every day. In my opinion, that is a back door explanation of how moon cycles affect, or rather can be used to estimate, game movement. So, if a deer had a major feeding time at 8 one morning, the next morning it will feed a little after 8, and so on. I could be wrong, but that's been my observation. The problem with that is that hunting pressure, weather and other factors can influence the cycle.

    Several years ago I was hunting deer. I was watching a large meadow, and saw a small group of deer come out to feed at about 20 minutes to 9. At the same time, a large bull elk was feeding in the same meadow. They fed for about 20 minutes and went back into cover. At about 3 that afternoon, the deer and elk came back out to feed.

    The next day I hunted a spot about a half mile away, and shot a feeding buck at about 3:30 in the afternoon.

    Even though the area was on public land, and near town, it was lightly hunted. It's also the same are in which I killed the bull in my avatar.

    Maybe a topic on factors that influence game movement/feeding/etc. would be good to start.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • shootbrownelkshootbrownelk Senior Member Posts: 2,035 Senior Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »
    Not really.

    Some of the places I hunt are too far away to scout, and others get a lot of hunting pressure during the season. That pressure may come before I even start my hunt, especially when hunting elk on public land. Just because they were in a certain spot a month ago doesn't mean they won't be 100 miles away today.

    What you said Jerry, I know where the elk hang. But the day before the season opens, non-residents come out in droves on ATV's driving all over God's creation (scouting?) and running the elk out of the area. Hunting pressure isn't the word for it, stupid fits it better.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    You guys bring a very interesting part of what I consider scouting: figuring out where NOT to hunt. For instance, when I went on my recent antelope hunt, I had a public place in mind that I was excited to check out because I knew it held antelope and seemed far enough off the beaten path that I thought hunting pressure would be low. I couldn't have been more wrong. There were at least 4 different campsites erected and numerous vehicles in an area way too small for that kind of ruckus. Noted: I took that spot off my list of places to try and pressed off elsewhere. That little piece of info alone got me thinking outside of the box and ultimately led me to try make an unscheduled push to get on the lone piece of private land in the north part of my hunt unit. A conversation with the landowner later and the rest is history.

    I had a similar epiphany on public land that resulted in some scouting on the fly (that is, after a plan went to pieces as soon as the season opened). It was a couple of years back when whitetail hunting a usually low-pressure wildlife management area in western Nebraska. A friend suggested we deer hunt there because it was close to our duck and pheasant hunting locations. When we arrived opening morning, the lots around the place were absolutely packed with both resident and non-resident vehicles. Our best guess was that someone shot a monster out of there the year prior and the whole world showed up to try and bag another. It's possibly the silliest mentality ever in the hunting world since deer that size are few and far between, but the state officials I have spoken to say that this exactly why it happens. Come daylight at this place, you couldn't look in any direction without seeing orange. Two days of trying the usual spots led us to the conclusion that we were on a crash course with guaranteed failure if we didn't try something different.

    After another fruitless morning near the pressured crop fields, we got on my iPhone, looked at Google maps and found a section of the same WMA away from the main access points that looked harder to hunt and might filter out people looking for an easy sit-around near the state-planted crops. Sure enough, we found a bumpy, nasty dirt road that had a longer walk to reach a secluded stretch of woods and sat alongside a small river. We found thick deer tracks and saw only one other hunter the whole time back there the afternoon we scouted. This was our spot for the evening hunt. That night, I tagged out, shooting two does within seconds of each other right alongside the river. My buddy got his near that same spot the next morning. Sometimes, putting the gun down and looking around on maps and on foot can pay serious dividends.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Six-Gun wrote: »
    You guys bring a very interesting part of what I consider scouting: figuring out where NOT to hunt. For instance, when I went on my recent antelope hunt, I had a public place in mind that I was excited to check out because I knew it held antelope and seemed far enough off the beaten path that I thought hunting pressure would be low. I couldn't have been more wrong. There were at least 4 different campsites erected and numerous vehicles in an area way too small for that kind of ruckus. Noted: I took that spot off my list of places to try and pressed off elsewhere. That little piece of info alone got me thinking outside of the box and ultimately led me to try make an unscheduled push to get on the lone piece of private land in the north part of my hunt unit. A conversation with the landowner later and the rest is history.

    I had a similar epiphany on public land that resulted in some scouting on the fly (that is, after a plan went to pieces as soon as the season opened). It was a couple of years back when whitetail hunting a usually low-pressure wildlife management area in western Nebraska. A friend suggested we deer hunt there because it was close to our duck and pheasant hunting locations. When we arrived opening morning, the lots around the place were absolutely packed with both resident and non-resident vehicles. Our best guess was that someone shot a monster out of there the year prior and the whole world showed up to try and bag another. It's possibly the silliest mentality ever in the hunting world since deer that size are few and far between, but the state officials I have spoken to say that this exactly why it happens. Come daylight at this place, you couldn't look in any direction without seeing orange. Two days of trying the usual spots led us to the conclusion that we were on a crash course with guaranteed failure if we didn't try something different.

    After another fruitless morning near the pressured crop fields, we got on my iPhone, looked at Google maps and found a section of the same WMA away from the main access points that looked harder to hunt and might filter out people looking for an easy sit-around near the state-planted crops. Sure enough, we found a bumpy, nasty dirt road that had a longer walk to reach a secluded stretch of woods and sat alongside a small river. We found thick deer tracks and saw only one other hunter the whole time back there the afternoon we scouted. This was our spot for the evening hunt. That night, I tagged out, shooting two does within seconds of each other right alongside the river. My buddy got his near that same spot the next morning. Sometimes, putting the gun down and looking around on maps and on foot can pay serious dividends.

    I agree that hunting such places as that is where scouting is mandatory to success.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    Around our place I've kinda got things figured out. I've got a couple of feeders out and a trail cam just to see what's using our place at any given time because they use a lot more land than we've got. I still hunt my way to and from the feeders but otherwise stay out of there so as to be as low impact as possible. We don't even slam truck doors here at the house. In the Nat'l Forrest I scout like crazy. Looking for preferred food sources, rubs and other sign, but way off the roads out past all the other orange. I can't help but laugh when I see ladder stands not far from the road.

    Out West I usually just would find a likely looking basin with a saddle at both ends and let the pilgrims run them over on me. I killed every Elk I ever killed that way except for one that ran literally through camp one morning.
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
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