Early Season Scouting – Whitetail Deer

To improve your chances of taking a nice buck and having a successful deer hunt you will need to do some preseason scouting. I have found over the years the best time to start scouting in the Mid-West is mid July. Scouting will also give you the confidence to pass up many smaller bucks holding out for one of those shooters you have studied.

Hints for Scouting Deer

There are some key things you will want to note when scouting deer; bedding areas, feeding areas, water sources, and the direction the deer travel morning and night. See my article on stand placement and trail making.

Tools for scouting Deer

Two things I like to use are multiple trail cameras and a pair of binoculars, this way I can get a good idea where the deer are coming from and where they are heading at different times of the day.

By starting in mid-July you can watch the bucks mature throughout the velvet growing period. You will also get a good feel for the different bucks working the area, this way you can pick one or two to focus on. I prefer to focus on two or three as they will change patterns as the season progresses, this will also give you confidence when passing up many smaller bucks, knowing your odds are very good at seeing one of those you are waiting for. Remember your goal here is to single out one or two shooter bucks increasing your odds. Here are some of the pictures I got last year on my camera, which helped me decide which bucks to focus on.

Does Scouting Deer Really Work

Yes, scouting does work and even if you own the land you will want to scout every year. The Whitetail Deer changes it’s patterns based on the water and food sources and as the fields and woods mature. Some bucks may move out while others move in and during rut anything goes.

A good example is the scouting I did last year, picking out 3 bucks and focusing hard on the top two. One was a 12pt, one a 9pt and the other an 8pt. I passed up the 8 point twice and ended up taking the 9 point, we never did see the 12 point during the archery or gun season. See how to do your own Antler Mount as I illustrate on the 9pt.