I was wondering. How do I scout an area without basically ruining the area from me walking all through it? No ariel photos are available. Anyone know where I can get some basics in scouting? Thanks.
Kahuna, let me start by saying "AIREALS ARE AVAILABLE", you must just not have any. The USGS has photos of the entire country. If there is any agriculture at all in the county you hunt, another good source is the local USDA field office. They do photographic flyovers as part of the farm support programs. I know one of the ladies in my local office and she not only helps me find the areas I am interested in, but also has let me borrow their slides in order to get 8 X 10 photos made. IMHO these are the best photos to use because they are less than one year old and in color. Even if you don't get pictures at least get a topo map. I use both and find the topo just as useful as the pics although in a different way. Deer use cover AND elevation to their advantage, so both have to be taken into consideration.
As far as pre-season scouting is concerned, there is far too much to cover in a posting, but here are some tips:
1. DON'T OVER DO IT!! I mention this first because it is the most important thing to keep in mind. Deer, especially bucks, are very sensitive to the sudden appearence of humans in their world after a long Summer of being left alone. Be concious of leaving scent and spooking deer by getting too close to their bedding areas.
2. Keep in mind that all doe trails and most buck trails are exactly alike. They have a bedding area on one end and a feeding area on the other. I realize this may seem pretty obvious, but I have always been amazed by the number of hunters who don't seem to understand this concept. My advice would be to concentrate on finding the food sources and then try to work out the trails being used to approach the area. Don't forget that preferred food sources change rather quickly in the Fall and so will the deer's movement patterns.
3. Next year try to start your pre-season scouting a little earlier, like immediately after the season closes. This is the hands down best time to scout. All of the rut sign is still clearly visible, the Winter woods are more open allowing you to see farther and the trails are beat down from weeks of use. Scouting at this time has two very important advantages. First, you don't have to worry about spooking deer. It will be months before you hunt again, so go ahead and bust right on up in those bedding areas if you want to. Second, by studying the rut sign you can determine those places that are being used year after year for scraping and rubbing. Figure out how the deer are approaching those areas and where you need to setup. Then next year, assuming you know the timing of the rut where you hunt, you can be there BEFORE the action starts. Good Luck.
You need good Binos,Drive around areas that you hunt and watch openings such as feilds during the evenings,at least if you see deer this way you know they exist in the area,and you will see how they enter the feilds to feed,note wind directions in relation to the areas you are watching so you can predict how to hunt the area.