Preemptive Scouting for Bucks Now
Dr. John Woods 11.09.16
For many deer hunters the 4th of July signals that time of year to already start thinking about pre-season scouting for deer. It may seem way too early, but for serious deer hunters, there really is no too early time to begin the process of assessing the deer herd available for hunting this fall.
Some hunters I know here in Mississippi have already started putting out trail cameras to spy on what deer movements are going on now. Several have already reported that bucks, though in velvet, are showing some pretty massive racks this early in the season. This may seem early, too, but it is not.
“It is not unusual at all to see bucks this time of year showing the development of racks that certainly will be trophy class come this fall. Keep in perspective that if a buck is showing a big rack now this time of year, just imagine what it will look like in November and December or during the rut,” says Larry Castle, senior wildlife specialist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Certainly the use of trail cameras now can yield early information on deer and bucks moving around the areas where you hunt. It is never too early to start cataloging bucks that might still be around for hunting this fall. Be sure to look for and track patterns. Are the same bucks showing up and what times do they appear? Sure, this will change as the fall season approaches, but still it is informative to know these things now.
Besides cameras, direct observational techniques can be used, too. It is not troublesome now to catch deer out in the open or fear busting them. They will long settle down before the hunting season rolls around. If you are actively feeding deer, then post cameras there, too, but observe from afar as well.
Slowly cruise your hunting grounds. Ideally an electric cart would be great for this, but a slow moving, quiet ATV or UTV will not overtly disturb deer this time of year. Ease up to the edges of fallow food plots, historical travel routes, mixed habitat edges, native browse like honeysuckle or wild berry bushes, and other places where deer are traditionally spotted on your property. Scouting now will start to give you some ideas of what to expect this fall.