Start Scouting for Deer in the Spring
Day 4: How to Choose Where You’ll Hunt While Scouting
Editor’s Note: Deer hunters who hunt like the pros and who bag deer each year have scouted extensively. For a pre-season scout plan to be effective, you must pinpoint not only where the deer will be feeding and bedding during the opening week of deer season, but also where and what the deer will eat once that food supply is depleted.
According to Jim Crumley, the originator of Trebark camouflage and an avid scouter, “During my in-the-woods preseason scouting 6- to 8-weeks before opening day, I pick the trees from which I'll hunt. I climb those trees with my stand and trim the limbs to provide shooting lanes for me when I'm in my stand. I prepare numerous stand sites before the season. Then on any day, I'll have several different stand sites for hunting already setup. I also know when I go up those trees during deer season I won't have to waste time cutting limbs or possibly make any noise that may spook the deer.
“Here's how I choose the sites to put my stands. If I see a white oak tree in the woods with plenty of acorns on it that hasn't begun to drop its acorns yet, I will know that as soon as those acorns start to fall, the deer will come to that tree to feed. I search for a tree near that white oak tree to put my tree stand. I trim four trees on different sides of that white oak tree, which gives me the option of placing my tree stand in any one of those four trees when the deer start moving toward that white oak to feed, regardless of which way the wind blows or the deer move.
“I prefer to hunt from a stand where the sun rises from my back. Then if the buck looks in the tree to see me, he will be gazing into the sun. The chances of his spotting me will be reduced greatly. The ideal stand site has the sun at my back, the wind in my face and the deer approaching down a trail parallel to me. However, rarely does anyone find all those ingredients at any one stand site. The direction of the wind is the most-important factor determining which stand site I use to hunt in any area.”
Crumley also suggests that during the preseason you select stand sites you can hunt from in the morning and different stand sites you can hunt from in the afternoon. “For the most productive morning-stand sites, I want to be in a tree and able to see a deer along the trail the deer will take moving away from his feeding region and going to his bedding area. Because I believe deer feed primarily at night, I want my morning stand to be closer to the bedding region than to the feeding area. Then I may be able to see the buck just at daylight when he's left his feeding spot and just before he arrives at his thick-cover bedding site. Another key ingredient to having a successful morning stand is for it to be where I can get to it before daylight without spooking the deer. Oftentimes a hunter will put up a tree stand where he expects deer to appear but doesn't consider how he will reach that stand and whether or not he will spook them as he's walking to his stand.
“Sometimes I'll locate great stand sites while I'm scouting that I'd love to hunt from but can't place a tree stand at that site, because I realize walking to or away from that stand may mean I'll spook the deer I'm hoping to hunt. The wind may carry my scent to the deer before I arrive at the stand, or I may make so much noise getting to the stand that these sounds will spook the deer.
When I'm looking for an evening-stand site, I make sure I won't spook the deer going to or coming away from the stand. I also want this stand to be further away from the bedding area and closer to the food source. Late in the afternoon, the deer will walk from his bedding site to where he plans to feed.”
To learn more about how professional deer hunters locate and hunt big deer, buy John E. Phillips’ latest book, “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” available for $2.99 at www.amazon.com/Kindle-eBooks.