Don’t let the ticks and snakes keep you from finding new spots to hunt this fall.
It’s time to get out there and start scouting. Lather on the DEET, put on snake boots and get a leg up on those other guys who are playing golf or kicked back on a beach or in the A/C somewhere.
Let’s say you hunt a 250-acre woodland. You’ve probably hunted only 50 to 75 of those acres over the years, if that. You figure other guys roam the ridges and hollows beyond your stand. Or maybe you’ve just gotten in a rut and hunted the same spots. You bust some does every year and a buck every once in a while, so why hunt anywhere else, right?
Wrong. You are probably missing out on other spots that are better. So go hike every inch of an area (well, not literally, but you get the idea, cover a lot of new ground). In the summer with everybody else off doing other stuff, you’ll have the run of the place.
Break the terrain into 5- to 10-acre grids on an aerial map. Hike the perimeters of each grid and work your way into the middles. Carry your map and jot down your discoveries—a gap where two deer trails converge, a deep ditch that deer walk around, an oak grove with green nuts that should fall during the early bow season…a muddy creek crossing with tracks…good stuff like that.
Look for thick, out-of-the-way holes where bucks will hide when hunters start traipsing around in 3 or 4 months. It doesn’t take much cover to hold a big buck. Come back in a few months and hang a stand in one of the spots. You might bust a giant fleeing the pressure come October or November.
Signpost rubs from previous years should rev your motor. One summer day, I walked into a draw almost a mile from a stand that I had been hunting off and on for several years. That drainage had always looked good, but I had been too lazy to check it, and besides I figured other people were hunting there.
I didn’t hike far before I found 6 old rubs the size of fence posts, and trails crisscrossing all over. I came back one day in November and nailed a nice 8-pointer. And by the way, I never saw another hunter in the hollow all fall.
I owe that buck to a summer scout that gave me a leg up on all my golfing and fishing friends. Go for it and you’ll hunt better this fall.
Human odor spooks deer. Shower with a scent-free soap before every hunting trip, and try not to contaminate your hunting clothes on the way to the field. Keep them sealed in a plastic container or bag with leaves, dirt and other ground debris from around your stand until you arrive at your hunting location. Doing so will allow your hunting clothing to take on the naturally occurring scents that permeate your hunting location.
I think the best first step for a beginner hunter would be to attend a hunter education course, sometimes known as a hunter safety course. For more information on this, check out introduction to hunting from the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). This should help you understand more about hunting, hunters, and the wildlife we pursue.