Sunday, July 19, 2015

Deer Hunting: 3 Tips For Summer Scouting

Summer time can be daunting when enduring the hot weather until the opener. Here in Michigan, we are limited to what we can do on public land to prepare for the season. There are three things I do that help me not only pass the time, but ensure that I am prepared for the long hunting season ahead.
Find the Food
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             It’s hard to say from year to year which oaks will produce the best crop. Some years it’s good and other years it’s hard to find a good crop. About this time every year I take a day or two to scout some of my favorite acorn ridges. That way when the season opens, I already know where the preferred food source will be when the frost bit days of November comes sneaking in.
            Aside from acorns, there are other fruit bearing trees that tip you off as to whether or not they will yield a food sources. It’s good to know where other food sources are in your hunting areas. That way if one did not produce, you have a backup and an answer as to why you are not seeing deer in a particular area.
            Although very under rated, fresh logging cuts can be a hot spot when snow takes over the forest floor. Many deer will converge in these areas to eat the tops off trees that are left behind from a recently logged area. These tops are usually two feet or higher from the ground and do not get covered with snow. Whatever the food source you suspect the deer prefer in your hunting area, it’s wise to make sure it will be there when you intend to hunt there.

            As bucks meander through the fields and open forests they can be observed in person or by way of trail cameras. I do not prefer one over the other but both do have their advantages.
           When observing bucks with their bachelor groups, in person, you can witness how they interact with each other. You will begin to see how they rank among each other. Summer is the time where bucks get to know each other and also where they develop a hierarchy. If observed frequently you will be able to identify which bucks are likely to be the dominant bucks within each group. This will give you a good idea of the competition these bucks will be presented with comes the breeding season.
           Trails cameras are probably the single best scouting tool a whitetail hunter has ever had the luxury of using. Trail cameras tell us so much about deer, even in just a still image. Today we have trail cameras that take video which has advanced the tool just that much further. Trail cameras can give a hunter a good idea of how many bucks are in a given area, well before the season opens. The single best reason for trail cameras is that you do not have to be present in order for them to work. Imagine saying that to a hunter fifty five years ago.
            Whether observing in person or by way of scouting cameras, it’s a great advantage to see the deer you will be hunting, previous to the season. Watching antlers grow through the summer and seeing which bucks have made it through the previous seasons and winter helps pass the time and is just plain awesome. 

Stand Sites
                I for some reason can never have enough stand locations. I primarily hunt from a climber because I hunt public land so often. Picking all my stand sites is done mostly through the month of August, once I know where the acorns and other food will be most abundant.      

This is also a great time to scout other locations that bucks hold up in but have abandoned to join bachelor groups on their summer range. You can leave all the scent you want and you don’t have to worry about spooking deer. 
This time of the year, foliage is most constricting and you will have the best opportunity to see shooting lanes and trees with the best cover. If appropriate, you can trip some of those stubborn limbs and branches that may be hard to notice when the leaves fall from the trees. If you hunt long enough, you will fall victim to a deflection from one of these branches and know exactly why I trim these buggers when easily noticeable.
No matter where you hunt, these tips can help, even if just in the smallest way. I hope these few tips help you with your hunts this season. I have noticed the advantage since applying them to my summer routine and I believe you will too.