Scouting After Deer Season
Dr. John Woods 02.26.18
Deer hunters have often heard the yarn about the next deer season starts the minute the current one ends. Well, to be honest, there is some truth to that or at least there ought to be. So right after you clean up all your deer hunting gear, and before you start trying to find your crappie poles and fishing tackle, spend a few more days afield where you deer hunt.
Right now, while all the leaves at off the trees, all the hunters are gone except for some rabbit and squirrel hunters, is the best time to start scouting for next year. It is time to cruise the trails on your ATV slowly, or better yet, walk them. Follow up on some of those well beaten deer trails and funnels that you did not want to bust during the hunting season. Check them out now.
If you have an aerial photo map of where you hunt or even some crude hand drawn maps of the property, start taking notes as you walk the area after the season. Mark down where some of the more obvious deer sign is located. Use some stick on kids craft stickers like stars and dots to mark locations of rubs, scrapes, trails, beds, and other deer sign.
Get off the beaten paths you usually hunt or travel. Walk the woods in places you might have avoided when trying to hunt. Now is the time to slowly walk through the sanctuary areas you did not want to disturb before. Keep your eyes peeled for deep woods deer sign. I am always amazed at how many rubs and scrapes I find seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. Ironically that may be just the spot to hang a stand next season.
Walk the water sources on your property. Hike down the banks of drainages, ditches, and canals looking for well-worn travel routes. Are there crossings that are muddy with deer tracks? Check the points of the deer tracks to see which way deer are mostly coming and going. This may offer hints as to how deer travel. Always look for new potential stand sites.
Of course, keep your eyes wide open for deer running off. Also be mindful that bucks may be starting to drop antlers well into March. Check thick trails, creek bottoms, and fence crossings. Record all this on your maps and notes so you’ll be ready for strategy building come next season.