The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community banner
1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next weekend I am planning to do my annual walk-thru of hunting areas to gauge sign and food availability.

Every year I wrestle with how to approach this preseason scouting. I want to gather as much intelligence as possible to know what spots I need to be most focused on for my October hunts but I also want to balance that with causing the least amount of disturbance as possible to my hunting areas.

I have about 35 potential stand locations across two locations in different counties. I generally plan my scouting for two weeks prior to the start of bow season. Sometimes I have just walked to the general areas of where my stands are to see what food looks like or if there is any good buck sign in night time feeding areas but stay at least a few hundred yards from the stand sites themselves. Other years I make it a point to do a quick but deliberate walk through of each stand site itself to see exactly what is going on at those specific locations. I always seem to feel like I am either being too intrusive or on the other hand that I need to have better hard intelligence about exactly how hot each of my stand sites is.

How to do you all manage your preseason scouting and balance the need to know what is going on without putting the deer in your areas on high alert before the season starts?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,894 Posts
In that case I would scout the acorns, travel corridors, creek crossings. I would be tactful, but I would not hesitate to visit all the potential good spots as you will not be hunting all 35 spots opening day and any disturbed deer will settle back in to their comfort zone before you arrive with your bow.

I would pick what I believe to be the hottest areas at the time, picking spots between acorn/food sources and bed downs in narrow corridors if possible. Set my stand to plan the dominate wind.....check the wind at those spots while scouting and compare that to what the weather channel tell you for future reference.

I would make sure I have a good entrance and exit plan to get in and out.

Good luck.......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,014 Posts
I stay out of sanctuaries, but any other areas I don't worry about scouting almost any time. Iv'e seen too many nice bucks from the seat of my log skidder to beleive that any slight disturbance will make a buck leave the area. When I scout I make little effort at being stealthy, but I do watch my ground scent and stay out of thickets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Let trail cameras help you the last thing I wld do is go walking thru where ur goin to be hunting in a couple wks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,420 Posts
I scout for a number of different reasons this time of year . I look for food which mostly means hard mast . I am also scouting for other hunters. Boot tracks , stands , areas that have been trimmed, glow tacks and ribbons that look like they were tied around trees recently. Sometimes my scouting is for the rut . Basically areas that make sense for a buck to be cruising in search of a doe . Sometimes my scouting is for the first few weeks. Under those circumstances I am looking for big tracks , scrapes and rubs . If I find them I try to make a educated guess on where I think a buck will be bedded and back out . When I come back to hunt I will push in further at a snails pace and try to find a tree close to what I believe is his core area . Definitely a risk versus reward scenario but has paid off for me in the past .
Tomorrow I am finally able to go out and scout again. Almost a hour ride and the only practical way to get to this location is walking a gated road almost two miles back in . Once I get there I will investigate areas I have found sign in from previous seasons and look at leeward ridges and points . Plan on living a old Summit climber stashed back there somewhere. Scouting this area is a little sketchy though this time of year . On two occasions I almost stepped on a rattlesnake and a few years back I got bluffed charged by a bear . Also one turkey season I had a pack of coyotes surround me in the dark and start howling. It’s a bizarre place to hunt . Very mature woods without a lot of cover and food but when you least except it some form of wildlife totally catches you off guard . Also not very many deer but it’s remote enough to allow a buck to grow old .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
144 Posts
I honestly thing people worry too much about leaving their scent in a hunting area. I have had deer walk up and sniff a trail camera within 20 minutes of putting it up. I've killed bucks that I kicked out walking in and a few hours later they come right back. I do keep my scent to a minimum and play the wind while hunting.

For most of us we're 3 weeks away from the start of the season. That being said I wouldn't hesitate to scout an area now. Will you alert some deer that you were there? Of course you will, but I feel like you do that every time you go in the woods. If you are hunting public land there is no way to know who else has or will be in there looking around as well. I hunt the ANF and cant tell you how many times people walk by and I still see plenty of deer. I wouldn't be scouting at daybreak or at last light right now but a late morning / afternoon walk won't hurt anything. Chances are if you spook a deer it will most likely circle around you and come right back to the same bed it was in or somewhere close.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,014 Posts
I hunt mostly flat broken farmland. In areas like this I do 90% of my scouting from my truck or with ariel maps. Even in a new area I don't do alot of foot scouting. Funnels and travel corridors are what the I'm looking for and they're pretty obvious on ariel maps. That said I won't hesitate to scout a new area on foot after I find a good looking spot. Mid day usually, with a stand on my back and hunt that afternoon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
767 Posts
Best time of year to scout is October and November while you are hunting. Most of the sign and trails you find now will be 100% worthless come hunting season. Late September most deer disperse and pick up on their fall ranges or tighten them up at the least. My scouting relies on past years experience 99% of the time. The other 1% is preseason scouting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
745 Posts
I'll be out this weekend looking for hard mast on public land. I'm hunting some new to me public and don't know exactly where they bed so will probably try to hunt the food and watch where they are coming from and try to get closer to bedding.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,894 Posts
One of the best times to scout is late Dec. & early Jan...when there is no snow on the ground.....Much easier to see rubs, scrapes and trails that were worn down over the past two months....no worry on jumping or spooking deer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
I scout for a number of different reasons this time of year . I look for food which mostly means hard mast . I am also scouting for other hunters. Boot tracks , stands , areas that have been trimmed, glow tacks and ribbons that look like they were tied around trees recently. Sometimes my scouting is for the rut . Basically areas that make sense for a buck to be cruising in search of a doe . Sometimes my scouting is for the first few weeks. Under those circumstances I am looking for big tracks , scrapes and rubs . If I find them I try to make a educated guess on where I think a buck will be bedded and back out . When I come back to hunt I will push in further at a snails pace and try to find a tree close to what I believe is his core area . Definitely a risk versus reward scenario but has paid off for me in the past .
Tomorrow I am finally able to go out and scout again. Almost a hour ride and the only practical way to get to this location is walking a gated road almost two miles back in . Once I get there I will investigate areas I have found sign in from previous seasons and look at leeward ridges and points . Plan on living a old Summit climber stashed back there somewhere. Scouting this area is a little sketchy though this time of year . On two occasions I almost stepped on a rattlesnake and a few years back I got bluffed charged by a bear . Also one turkey season I had a pack of coyotes surround me in the dark and start howling. It’s a bizarre place to hunt . Very mature woods without a lot of cover and food but when you least except it some form of wildlife totally catches you off guard . Also not very many deer but it’s remote enough to allow a buck to grow old .
Your spot sounds a lot like mine haha. What county is it in?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,014 Posts
I'm also a big believer in yearly patterns. If a buck did something the week of halloween last year, I beleive in most cases he'll be in that same place doing the same thing this year the week of halloween. Exploit this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the feedback folks. I also hunt remote public land primarily in Elk and Westmoreland counties. I do the vast majority of my scouting in winter and spring but just like to walk through all my potential spots for October hunts now to see what spots look the hottest and what food sources are plentiful.

I'm planning to visit my areas this weekend and bascially have felt that seeing sign first hand is worth alerting a few deer since it will be 2 weeks til I hunt any of the areas and at least 3 until revisit most. I'll update the thread as to how the scouting trips go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,420 Posts
Your spot sounds a lot like mine haha. What county is it in?
Westmoreland. Actually just got back home ten minutes ago. I left one of my old climbers back there at a pretty decent spot I found today. With that being said it’s such a long walk I am not looking forward to going back there anytime soon . I will hunt anywhere including right off the road but I will also say I probably get further back in compared to the average archery hunter on a lot of occasions. Where I went today was further than what I normally do and it had me questioning my sanity . Also had another weird wildlife experience. About halfway back had some huge bird circling overhead making strange noises . Actually freaked me out because as usually up there I am lucky to see a bird or any wildlife at all and here us this giant bird making sounds I have never heard before. Still have absolutely no idea what kind of bird it was .
This rub I found was pretty cool because the limb was sort of horizontal. I think it may be a older deer because of the height. My climber is now about 50 yards downwind from where this was made .
Plant Military camouflage Tree Wood Terrestrial plant
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Westmoreland. Actually just got back home ten minutes ago. I left one of my old climbers back there at a pretty decent spot I found today. With that being said it’s such a long walk I am not looking forward to going back there anytime soon . I will hunt anywhere including right off the road but I will also say I probably get further back in compared to the average archery hunter on a lot of occasions. Where I went today was further than what I normally do and it had me questioning my sanity . Also had another weird wildlife experience. About halfway back had some huge bird circling overhead making strange noises . Actually freaked me out because as usually up there I am lucky to see a bird or any wildlife at all and here us this giant bird making sounds I have never heard before. Still have absolutely no idea what kind of bird it was .
This rub I found was pretty cool because the limb was sort of horizontal. I think it may be a older deer because of the height. My climber is now about 50 yards downwind from where this was made . View attachment 173525
That’s pretty cool. My spot is in Centre county.

I’m also questioning my sanity but I’ve seen hunters in as deep as a mile around this spot. I haven’t found any evidence of humans at 2 miles though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,420 Posts
That’s pretty cool. My spot is in Centre county.

I’m also questioning my sanity but I’ve seen hunters in as deep as a mile around this spot. I haven’t found any evidence of humans at 2 miles though.
That’s why when I have the time available I like going in deep even though I may have better options closer to the road . I just really appreciate the solitude and it kind of turns it into an adventure. I also know that these remote areas can hold some bucks with age to them but it’s pretty hard hunting both physically and mentally. It’s really a dream of mine to kill a Pope and Young caliber deer back there . I killed some nice ones in the mountains but nothing even close to the 130’s. Managed to do it in broken up farmland a few times .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,420 Posts
Around here if you're in a half mile you're already on the way out.😁
If I end up shooting one in that deep this season I am not even going to call anyone for help because they wouldn’t be happy and there is no way to repay them. I will just suck it up and get it out myself.lol
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top