John's Journal...

Start Scouting for Deer in the Spring

Day 5: Why Build a Trophy Buck Hot Spot Now

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.

Click for Larger ViewDuring preseason scouting, create a place to bag the biggest buck on any property during the last week or two of hunting season. Search for thick-cover areas like:

  • old fields that have been allowed to grow up in weeds;
  • 2- or 3-year-old clear cuts;
  • big briar patches around old home places;
  • cane thickets on the edges of creek banks;
  • old hedgerows that have grown up in briars and brambles; or
  • areas that have been timbered and the limbs and brush have been left on the ground for a year or two.

Click for Larger ViewWalk completely around these thick-cover regions, and look for an easily-identifiable landmark, such as a very-tall tree, a big old dead tree, a large stump, a little creek or a sinkhole – any type of terrain break or landmark you can identify at night. Next, try to determine the direction of the prevailing wind in your area. Then walk straight into the thicket with the landmark at your back. Ten to 12 yards into the thicket, use pruning shears and a small handsaw to cut a path. I don't want other hunters to see this path from outside the thicket. I cut the path to the center of the thicket, 2- to 3-feet wide. Click for Larger ViewThen I cut an 8-inch circle in the center of the thicket for my ground blind. Next, I cut three shooting lanes, 5- to 10-yards apart, that extend from the circle 30 to 40 yards into the thicket. Once I complete my construction, I leave the area, promising myself I won't come back until the last couple of days of deer season.

To consistently take more and bigger deer this season, begin doing your homework now. If you scout more than other hunters in your hunting area do, you'll be like a professional hunter and find and take the biggest bucks this season.

Click for Larger ViewTo 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



Check back each day this week for more about "Start Scouting for Deer in the Spring "

Day 1: Spring Scouting for Deer
Day 2: How to Know if Your Land Has Trophy Bucks
Day 3: Where and How to Scout
Day 4: How to Choose Where You’ll Hunt While Scouting
Day 5: Why Build a Trophy Buck Hot Spot Now

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Entry 655, Day 5