posted by Jim on Mar 4
Despite what it might look like outside momentarily winter is winding down and spring is right around the corner. That means it’s time to think about spring scouting. For anyone who is serious about regularly tagging mature bucks the few weeks between snow melt and green up are some of the most important “hunting” weeks in the entire hunting year. What you do now will set the stage for success this fall.
Reading last year’s Sign
The principle reason to scout in the spring is that last fall’s rut sign will still be visible until the woods green up. Sure, there is always the chance that the mature buck that made last year’s sign is long since dead, but if an area is good another mature buck will take his place. Terrain features determine how deer use them, not the other way around. Since you won’t be hunting for the areas you are scouting for about six months you don’t have to worry about spooking any deer, and having them change their routine to avoid your future hunting. With this in mind you can walk and inspect every inch of your hunting areas, including bedding areas, which should give you a clear understanding of how deer use your hunting property.
What to look for
The main types of sign to look for while spring scouting are the same that you would look for in the fall. My favorite hunting areas are usually combinations of a couple different things, and each property will have a unique layout. My best whitetail hunting ambush spots are almost always found near primary scrape areas. My next priority is staging areas, followed by funnels between bedding areas and transition routes between bedding and feeding areas. Generally, your best spots will be a combination of these. Beyond this I look for stand locations for every portion of the season. This means travel routes to known feeding areas for the early season, out of the way secondary locations for the October Lull, for instance lone oaks in soon to be corn fields, or singular trees along out of the way fence rows, and the locations I just mentioned for the pre-rut and rut. I also look for locations that fit special circumstances, such as dry islands in otherwise wet bedding areas, or potential locations for cattail ground blinds, just in case the fall weather conditions offer an opportunity to hunt such a location. For gun season look for escape routes, and for the late season travel routes to and from winter food sources. The main facet of spring scouting is to cover every inch of your hunting area and prepare locations for every eventuality. By doing this you are increasing your ability to adapt to ever changing deer movement, without disturbing them with untimely intrusion in the fall.
Preparing Hunting Locations
The spring is the time to get your trees prepped for fall, all of them, for every situation. Again, since you don’t have to worry about spooking deer, you can take your time and make sure every setup is perfect. This means running your steps up all your trees, setting up your Treesaddle, and clearing out all of your shooting lanes. It also means determining your entry and exit routes to your hunting destinations. If you need to cut a trail through a swamp to get to a tree, now is the time to do it. Deer are very aware of all changes within their home range and will definitely notice what you have done, but since it is spring they will have time to get used to your changes before fall. When you do this stuff in the fall you invariably leave scent and warn the deer of your intentions.
Spring Scouting Advantage
The advantage of having all your hunting spots cleared out in the spring should be obvious. With the majority of your work done now, you will be able to hunt for efficiently and effectively come fall. Your element of surprise increases dramatically when all you have to do is show up and hunt without having to hang stands. It helps tremendously to be able to adjust to any changes immediately. Taking the time to do your primary scouting in the spring will make you a more successful whitetail bowhunter.
This is a very short version of the complete spring scouting procedure. For more: www.eberhartsbowhunting.com