The deer hunting season is only a few months away and I’m willing to bet hunters everywhere are getting the itch. Since there’s some down time until then, now is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming deer hunting season. If you start now, you’ll be well prepared, plus you’ll be able to start scratching that ol’ deer hunting itch.
Whether you currently have a deer stand set up or not, this article will benefit those who are searching for a (new) place to hunt by providing tips on what to look for and how to prepare accordingly. Even if you have a deer stand set up already and you think it’s the best spot on your land, it might not be a bad idea to switch it up this season or at least perform some preliminary scouting to ensure you’re utilizing the best area(s) on your land for hunting. No matter what your situation is, it all starts with scouting.
Signs to Look for When Deer Scouting
When you start scouting, it’s important to search for signs of deer activity. Depending on how much land you own, this search could be long and tedious, but that’s why you’re starting early. Search for heavy, beat down trails, travel corridors through the timber, scrapes, rub-lines, obvious beds in leaves and grass on ridge tops and side hills. It’s also important to note the location of current or future food sources and watering holes. You can set up trail cams to discover their traveling and feeding schedules.
Scouting helps determines access points to potential different stand locations; where and how are the deer moving and how can you get in and out undetected to hunt during the season.
Ways to Scout
Scouting can be done in three ways; aerial, on foot and through a camera. To get the most out of your scouting, it’s important to perform all three ways and in a specific order, too.
Time spent studying aerial and topography maps is advantageous to locate creeks, ponds, funnels, possible food sources, stand sites, access routes and general “lay of the land.” You can use Google Maps, since they tend to update their maps frequently and same with TerraServer.
Once you’ve done the preliminary aerial and topographic scouting, now you need to put your feet on the ground and in the middle of the timber to fine tune the general observations gathered from your maps. Make sure to print out topographic and aerial maps to ensure its accuracy. Make sure to take notes, as well.
Lastly, trail cameras are great for getting an idea of what specific numbers are living on your farm, identifying travel habits and ratio of bucks to does. Cameras also help to determine whether certain bucks are living on your property year after year or ones just cruising through your property during a rut. Make notes on your topographic and aerial maps where you think might be good places to place trail cams and once you’re on foot, you can set them up.
Places to Put Your Stand
A good stand should be where natural terrain (saddles, funnels and pinch points) will encourage deer concentration as they move daily from bedding area to feeding area in the evening or in the morning where they return from either area. It should be well concealed and accessible without disturbing the herd while entering or exiting. Wind direction is critical. Stands should be placed on the down-wind side of traveling deer to keep scents hidden and the hunter undetected.
Make the Most of Your Area
The attraction to certain areas that the herd is travelling to and from is the most important part. Hunters want to be in an area that the deer move and hunters can see them but they can’t see the hunter. Hunting over a food plot where the deer are feeding at night will attract the deer to a certain location where the hunter has a good opportunity for a shot.
Hunters should try to set up their stands as noted above and take advantage of natural bedding, travel and feeding habits of the deer in the immediate area, rather than try to draw the deer to his or her stand site.
Sammy Jo writes for Hawkeye Mgmt & Real Estate, professional realtors offering hunting land for sale in Iowa.