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Anyone out there scouting and how are you going about it at this time of year? I’m gonna start next weekend going out and looking for trails bedding and funnels. Looking for input or any helpful insight I might be overlooking?
 

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This is probably the best time of year to get out there. If I am scouting a new to me area, I start with trying to find a food source. That might be a crop field, pasture, oak ridge, etc. From there I will try and decipher where are coming to this area from. Once that has been roughly determined I will start to look for buck sign(rubs, scrapes, and tracks). For the areas that I hunt the buck sign stays pretty consistent, as I usually find rubs and scrapes in the same general areas. So when scouting a new area once I find the sign then I feel that it in most cases will be in a similar area the next fall. I know that this can all change if the food sources change, but again the areas I hunt don't change much from year to year. Lastly I will head into what I figure is the best bedding areas and again, look for buck sign. After that is all done I will take everything I learned on my scouting mission and try and pick out my areas that I will try and hunt when I go back again in the fall. I usually will pick out a couple of trees that will work for how I want to set up so when I do come back to hunt it I have a rough idea where I will want to be.
 

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I combine my scouting and shed hunting together around the end of Feb. to the end of March, while looking for sheds I am always scouting trails, crossings and thick bedding areas for sign. If red oak trees are around as well, they seem to hold the acorns that help to keep the deer close by during the winter months....Finding some nice sheds then gives a pretty good idea that a nice buck has survived the season and now I will be scouting that particular area a little better as the season progresses and perhaps installing trail cams once they come into velvet around July…..
 

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For whatever reason I am having a hard time getting in the woods to scout at the moment. Just seems like there is something always coming up. Anyhow I scouted my butt off last year and probably had one of my worst bow seasons ever. Think I was over analyzing things and trying too hard if that makes any sense. Sort of drove myself crazy with the second guessing and my confidence in my ability took a big hit. Still not sure what to make of it
Anyhow I still plan on going on several scouting excursions once time permits. My goal this year is to venture into new areas that I haven’t hunted before or very little. I know these particular locations might be good from watching deer move in these locations from a distance or noticing good sign from passing through but not actually hunting there. Also found some good spots during flintlock that I need to further investigate.
 

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Wow, where to start...

Food
Water
Bedding
Travel Corridor
Scout topo maps first, look for benches, funnels, saddles.

I like to find the thickest most remote bedding and then work from there. Follow trails in and out and they will lead to food, water, etc.

Wow, I really miss hunting. 7.5 months left...
 

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I start high level with maps looking at access and general lay of the land. I cross off broad areas cyber scouting but rarely look for specific spots to hunt, just looking more at broad swaths of 100-1000 acres I want to scout. I make note of potential food sources, mast, edges, topographic features, thick cover, etc.

I use my cyber scouting to make a general plan to hike an area and get a feel for the lay of the land. Probably half the time I do this I toss an area out right away never to return for various reasons. Some I make note of some features to keep in mind for the future particularly if it has the conditions I think bucks can get old. Maybe 20% I actually see enough to come back and scout further for hunting the following fall.

Every time I am out, I always circle back and update my map scouting with what my eyes saw. It's like you're working on a puzzle and often this makes things appear you didn't see previously.

Very much just a drill-down approach. I start very high level choosing areas to focus, then keep putting pieces together until I figure out where I want to hunt. Finding bedding, areas I think rut activity will be concentrated. I try a lot just to figure out how the deer travel the landscape, try to put myself in the mind of a buck. Some areas there is great sign that is like following a roadmap, others that involves a lot more guesstimation.
 

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One other thing I'll mention, espessially for folks looking for new areas to hunt. Might seem lazy, bit I do alot of road scouting. Cut in trails crossing roads mean lots of deer, and with some snow on I look for areas with alot of obvious activity. Get out and walk those trails to see where they come from or go to. If theres lots of tracks in a feild, walk them back and you'll find doe bedding.

Might not exactly be scouting, but it can quickly show you where to start more in depth scouting.
 

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One other thing I'll mention, espessially for folks looking for new areas to hunt. Might seem lazy, bit I do alot of road scouting. Cut in trails crossing roads mean lots of deer, and with some snow on I look for areas with alot of obvious activity. Get out and walk those trails to see where they come from or go to. If theres lots of tracks in a feild, walk them back and you'll find doe bedding.

Might not exactly be scouting, but it can quickly show you where to start more in depth scouting.
Totally agree. My most recent honey hole I found just because I was bored one July day a few years ago and wanted to go check out some country I'd never laid eyes on. Looked good, I came back, got schooled there first year I hunted it, then started figuring it out. Still figuring it out.

Also I have a little of that grass is always greener spirit, so I incessantly explore new places. I can't ever imagine being satisfied that I've found the best spot on PA public land I can possibly find, and if I did find that, I assume it would change. I need a dozen backups ready and waiting, and that is the beauty of public land hunting.
 

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One other thing I'll mention, espessially for folks looking for new areas to hunt. Might seem lazy, bit I do alot of road scouting. Cut in trails crossing roads mean lots of deer, and with some snow on I look for areas with alot of obvious activity. Get out and walk those trails to see where they come from or go to. If theres lots of tracks in a feild, walk them back and you'll find doe bedding.

Might not exactly be scouting, but it can quickly show you where to start more in depth scouting.
Thumbs up yellodog!

Access roads and trails are my go to starting point in new areas. #1. I learn the access points and paths used by the majority of hunters. #2. Bucks aren't shy about laying down rubs and scrapes along these access trails. Specifically, I look for clustered rubs that are new and old. Good chance bucks have consistently over the years crossed the trail at this location. Scout for bedding and food from that location.
 

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I look at maps almost everyday, I enjoy picking them apart. Everything I'm looking for is focused on bedding. For the month of October I hunt buck bedding and in November I hunt funnels. I'm heading out of state this weekend, I'll be scouting some spots I have picked out. Exploring new areas is almost as exciting as hunting at times.
 

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Well I was out scouting the area where I think my #1 hit lister for the past 5 yrs calls his home and I was very surprised at the lack of sign in the area ! I did find a couple small rubs and one nice one up on top of a long point where 2 benches come together to form it. It was on the very point and there was a big buck bed there about 6' from the rub under a pine ! That is the first time I can say with any truth that it was a buck bed. You could see down over both sides and the steep point with a west wind at his back plus everything up on top on the long point is so thick that you could never get close to him !! Heading back out tomorrow to check out another area with a couple nice points for bedding. I'm trying to find out where all my bucks go after they shed there velvet !
 

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Always like getting out after the first fresh snow after the season. Hopefully it lasts 3-4 days on the ground. Easy to see where and from at that point. Then I like it with no snow. This is the time to find the sign in places you may be overlooking in the season.
 

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Well I was out scouting the area where I think my #1 hit lister for the past 5 yrs calls his home and I was very surprised at the lack of sign in the area ! I did find a couple small rubs and one nice one up on top of a long point where 2 benches come together to form it. It was on the very point and there was a big buck bed there about 6' from the rub under a pine ! That is the first time I can say with any truth that it was a buck bed. You could see down over both sides and the steep point with a west wind at his back plus everything up on top on the long point is so thick that you could never get close to him !! Heading back out tomorrow to check out another area with a couple nice points for bedding. I'm trying to find out where all my bucks go after they shed there velvet !
Just like our #1 target buck, a 9.5 year old this coming year, this buck is giving you fits. Sounds like you know the area very well just like we know our area but these bucks are masters. It also sounds like the area your hunting is vast?

Maybe extend your scouting one mile in each direction from your primary hunting area looking for tell tale sign of the largest buck sign. Without knowing the lay of the land, all I can suggest is following ridge lines or drainages. If on ridge lines do as you are doing. Walk along the military crest side hill trail and follow points or spurs off the ridge looking for his beds or any large singular beds. If in a drainage, when you find really big buck sign search out adjacent ridges for where he may be coming from(bed) or going(doe beds/food).

Wouldn't hurt to identify doe bedding areas either. If it is a vast area, your best bet may be identifying a couple or more doe bedding areas and setting up along a heavily used trail or in a funnel between the two and hunting it hard from mid-Oct to the end of the season. This is what I'm now trying to do with our target buck as I've been unable to specifically identify HIS beds.

Once again, Good Luck!!
 

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Just like our #1 target buck, a 9.5 year old this coming year, this buck is giving you fits. Sounds like you know the area very well just like we know our area but these bucks are masters. It also sounds like the area your hunting is vast?

Maybe extend your scouting one mile in each direction from your primary hunting area looking for tell tale sign of the largest buck sign. Without knowing the lay of the land, all I can suggest is following ridge lines or drainages. If on ridge lines do as you are doing. Walk along the military crest side hill trail and follow points or spurs off the ridge looking for his beds or any large singular beds. If in a drainage, when you find really big buck sign search out adjacent ridges for where he may be coming from(bed) or going(doe beds/food).

Wouldn't hurt to identify doe bedding areas either. If it is a vast area, your best bet may be identifying a couple or more doe bedding areas and setting up along a heavily used trail or in a funnel between the two and hunting it hard from mid-Oct to the end of the season. This is what I'm now trying to do with our target buck as I've been unable to specifically identify HIS beds.

Once again, Good Luck!!
buckman for the past 3 yrs I have been scouting all the areas within a mile from every camera I have had pics of him on. I have found big rubs on adjacent hills to where I get most of his pics but no pics of him, I have also gotten 1 pic of him over a 5 yr period in a food plot about a mile away ! I have bought 24 trail cams to try and hunt him down and get some info on him but I only get a pic here or there after his velvet comes off and the pics aren't in the same areas so I could start back tracking him to his beds or food !! I do have about 5 or 6 doe bedding areas located and have sat downwind of each of them throughout the past 5 years hoping to just see him on the hoof ! I have never laid eyes on him !! Maybe this year will be the year !
 

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PUBLIC LAND APPROACH

With scouting, the first question I need to answer is: Is this a long or short term endeavor?
In either case I start by studying maps. With my phone hunting app., I can select all sorts of views and I will look at nearly every one of them using a computer.
The second question I have to answer is: What part of the season will I be hunting? The whole season, early, rut, bow, rifle etc.?

Short Term: If its an out of state hunt or a place I may only hunt occasionally because of time and distance- #1. Find access points, walk access trails, find larger buck sign or clustered old and new buck sign. #2. Try to determine where that/those buck came from and are going. #3. Look for high ground, swamps, cuts, any difficult access areas associated with the sign I found and scout. #4. Select potential stand locations if possible or at minimum a starting point for the hunt. For this I'll keep in mind leeward side hills for prevailing winds, any terrain which may funnel deer movement or terrain that "comes together". Several ridge points meeting in a bottom, or several ridge points and hollows meeting high on a knob or ridge. #5. Finally, escape routes/areas associated with hunting pressure.

Long Term: This would be here at home, locations I anticipate hunting for years to come. After viewing maps, I'll walk access and I'll do that every year. Find the best buck sign, in many instances I have found this will appear in the same locations from year to year(especially if same buck) or every couple years.
#1. I'll break down the total area into sections. #2. In the winter, I'll check each section for the best buck sign along access routes. #3. I'll scout the section containing the best buck sign and plan to hunt it or at minimum come back to it during the season to confirm a large buck is still alive in that section.

Actual Scouting of Long Term: Basically, I'll do a perimeter scout of the "section" and then break it down. The section is usually determined by property edges or other barriers like a road, far off ridge, waterways, square mile etc. and a naturally good terrain or habitat feature within.
#1. I try to find and identify all the bedding locations I can and determine if its primary or secondary, singular or grouped. Primary bedding will show heavy use with old and fresh deer sign. Secondary will look like a deer laid there one time with little associated deer sign. In hilly country, I check high, along the military crest of ridges and follow ridge points (spurs) down the slope. In flat land I look for thick cover, slightly elevated ground or natural barriers that favor a deer laying nearby (river/pond).

#2. While bed searching, I'm marking up my hunting map app. with the largest of rubs, heavily used scrapes and areas that show heavy feeding.
#3. I'll basically grid scout the chosen section from there and continue marking my map app. with the aforementioned. Most times I'm able to determine rub lines, scrape lines etc associated with bedding. #4. As I'm scouting along I'll look for places to hunt based on the sign I'm finding, ability to access the spot without disturbing too many deer, morning or afternoon, all season, early or rut?
#5. The final thing I'll do is try to find terrain or habitat funnels. I struggle with this in wooded mountain settings so I look for sign (trails) to confirm movement is restricted and how I could effectively hunt it or as in short term find terrain features which come together near the best sign.

The long term endeavor can take years to break down several sections, however, if I find big buck sign in a section I haven't scouted my go to tactic of hunting the military crest side hill trail or ridge points/spurs is pretty effective for getting on deer.
 

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PRIVATE LAND APPROACH

This is a long term endeavor. I will scout the property similar to my last post but it will obviously be based on property lines. Keep in mind I consider neighboring properties with both public land and private land scouting. What food sources are there, hunting pressure, other obvious terrain or habitat feature in which deer will use heavily.

After my initial detailed scouting, its a matter of monitoring the property. In the winter we use cameras to determine what bucks lived and where they showed up most frequently during the season. We will also do some shed hunting to confirm survival. During the winter months I look for new places to hunt the next season. Specifically, I've been working hard to find multiple funnels to hunt throughout the season and buck bedding that's vulnerable. I've also started scouting areas of the property where no one else hunts.

In July I will set up cameras over scrapes I create to inventory local bucks. This will be my third year of scouting and hunting. I'm gaining confidence with this property but I certainly haven't figured it out.

I find with this property my (our) focus is more about individual bucks. We are able to identify specific bucks from year to year by seeing them in person or on camera. Whereas on public land, I haven't been able to specifically identify individual bucks from year to year. I rarely run cameras on public land, so, my only intel of hunting the same buck may be large buck sign from one year to the next in the same location or actually laying eyes on him one year to the next.
 
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