Sunday, August 22, 2010

Speed Scouting

© By Othmar Vohringer

The phone rang, Ernie my hunting buddy, was on the other end asking me if I would be interested in a short hunting trip over the weekend. Of course I was interested. What I didn’t know at the time was that Ernie wanted to hunt a different area then the usual place we go for a short trip. Meaning, there would not be much time, if any, to scout.

To me scouting is the most important part of hunting but somehow for many hunters this task falls always short. There are things like work, repairs on the house, last minute invitations or getting permission to hunt form a landowner a few days before opening day that prevent us from scouting.

What I should have done is to ask my friend where he wanted to go and then used Google Maps to look for likely spots where deer hang out. To my defense it needs to be said that I didn't know where we are going until I sat in my friends truck. If you’re ever in a similar situation remember this. On a short, say a weekend long hunt, it is better to scout two days and only hunt one day. If you have a chance to plan even a day ahead then the free online maps provided by Google will be your best friend to study the lay of the land and find likely deer holding areas.

On the map look for the tell-tale signs like cover: agricultural fields that are also a feeding area for deer, stands of woods, swamps, woodlots, overgrown hedges and the like.

Look for terrain structures that are most likely deer travel corridors: narrow wooded fingers leading out of a bigger woodlot into fields, hedgerows connecting to larger cover structures, streams, ditches and other deer funnel-like features.

By studying maps you are able to eliminate up to 60 percent of marginal areas long before you set a foot on the land. When you arrive at the location you can avoid what walking miles to check everything out and spooking every deer in the area Instead you can concentrate on the potential core areas you found on the map. All that’s left to do is to scout a bit on location to choose a few possible stand sites in funnels that deer use to get from one place to the next. Then take it from there and adjust as required.

One a note of caution, don’t walk around too much, deer are much quicker on to you then you’re on to them. I have a simple rule by which I do all my in-season scouting. Never walk if you can drive, but never drive when you can use your binoculars.

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Anonymous said...

Othmar, I am a firm believer in studying a area before I hunt it. The more you know the better the percentage you will score.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Muzzleloader Shooting

Othmar Vohringer said...

Absolutely true Rick. The better you know an area the better. But there are times when, as mentioned in my post, where it is impossible to scout weeks ahead of time.In these cases looking at good map where you can see the lay of the land and possible deer funnels will save you a lot of running around.


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