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Scouting a new area

7186 Views 13 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Inderveanyday
I got a question to more experienced hunters. When you scout a new hunting area, what are you looking for? Can you tell if there's good number of deer in the area? Can you tell if there aren't too many other hunters around planning to hunt the same area? How to navigate in a forest and get back to the ground blind you've built?
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tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, food, water, thickets, beds. as for people, people tracks, cut shooting lanes, stands, sadly trash.
a good way to avoid other hunters is to try to avoid hunting off of heavaly traveled roads. i once scouted off of a back road that ran between my house and my work. it was far from town so i thought i was good. i did not take into acount that it was a short cut between concord (the state capitol) and I89 (one of the 2 biggest highways in NH). i found great sighn and was pumped for opening day. then come opening day there were like 5 trucks parked within 50 yards of were i enterd the woods.:wallbash: find some back countery dirt road that leads to nowere, a dead end would be even better.
I agree with the others, nobody wants to hunt where others are for the most part. When I scout an area, I do it during the afternoon around 11 to 2. Tracks are the first thing, then cover and edges. Where pines meet an oak ridge or short pines meet tall ones or swamp edges, island in swamps are excellent. Rubs and scrapes are a plus as well. I watch the wind and try to figure where their daytime security area is. I like a long white thread on my gun or bow for wind checkin. I also like Raccoon urine on my boots. Raccoons are prevelent here, and climb trees so Its the perfect cover scent. As far as navigating, I use a map and compass and a GPS for backup. Orange flagging tape is good for daytime trail marking but useless after dark. The reflective bread-ties work well or I have bought reflective tape and cut into strips, then stuck em on clothespins. If I do get lost, I have a cell phone, water purification tabs, and a bugnet hammock with me. In the winter I leave the hammock behind but make sure I have enough clothes, a redundant flashlight, lighter, firesteel, knife and a couple unopened space blankets. I dont load down with gear but have a minikit in case of an extended unexpected stay.
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Mr.Stairman, where do you get a map of the area and how detailed it is? Is there a way to figure out good spots to be on a topo map / aero view? For instance, I don't know the difference between pine trees vs. oak trees and the best topo map I got in local store is 1:30000 I think and it has only basics.
You can go to Google Earth and download topos and arial photos for free. The + will enlarge it and the - will zoom back out. These are usually shot in winter so the pines show as greenery and oaks as more browns.
I don't enjoy being crowded in a hunting spot but I mostly hunt on public lands so it does get a little congested at times but if you scout your areas well and you know how the other hunters are most likely coming into the woods you can use that to your advantage.

If you speak with other hunters that are hunting the same areas you are, DON'T reveal everything you know about the area, let them do the leg work to find where the deer are feeding, bedding, traveling etc.
If you say to them "I've got my stand set up about 250 yards over that way (Pointing to a specific direction) and if you run into other hunters could you tell them I'm over there also, there's no need to ruin each others hunts" Most (not all) hunters will respect that and head off into the other directions.
If they aren't familiar with the area chances are they're going to wander aimlessly and end up spooking deer onto their feet, once a deer gets up it's got to seek a safer spot to survive the day,, that alone is one way the others will help your hunt by getting the deer up and moving.

Don't let hunting on public lands alter your attitude or the way you hunt.
Stay scent free, maintain focus and hold onto a strong positive attitude in the end that's what's going to help you harvest your deer. :thumbup:
Good Luck and Happy Safe Hunting.
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My buddy John takes his 10 year old son Corbin with him as often as he can.
Corbin has spotted more sign than John or I ever will.

I hate that little kid!
We could even give our opinion on where to hunt your parcel, land. If you gave us the Lat, Longs if you felt like it. It is no replacement for after-season scouting but if you are going in fresh Google earth like mentioned will give you an idea of saddles, high, low, crops, swamps and other defining geography. That will atleast get you started. Although I must confess within the area I hunt I could use some pointers also. I pour over topos wear out boot tread and still end up with the same feeling that I have to be in three-four places at once.
I am looking at 2 places in general (depending on wind, and human traffic). I had scouted both and saw some deer signs at both.

1) 45°8.020'N 87°6.348'W (I plan to scout along the spring there, it has high grass and swamped). I saw a deer bed there.

2) 45° 14.253'N 87° 1.500'W
I believe that the second one is most likely to be heavily hunted (I saw a permanent stand on the edge of swamp opening as well as a coke can, and there were other cars when I did scouting), but then again its more forested and less open land, so hopefully not many hunters will go deep inside. I saw a scrape down there, and also some deer scat. My plan is to scout that area between the ATV trail going south and the swamp opening, but to stay somewhere in the middle between them.

I'd love to hear if I should focus on one of those areas and why.
There's a post in this forum (Lodge) which has area maps of hunting grounds and all that if you want to check it out it is:

Sorry to highjack this post but I figured I'd throw it out there.
I hunt a lot of public land in Illinois and what I do before every trip to one particular state park is drive around the park and check out all of the parking lots. One in particular always have 5 or more trucks in it, so I avoid it. Most of the guys are gone by noon but back around 3. I found a little spot that most people avoid because it is pretty small, maybe 40 acres, but noone goes there usually so I have the place to myself. I've seen 10 or so deer in this area with two nice bucks. Everyones oversight is my gain, and I only "found" this spot last season. I guess my point is don't overlook an area because others do. This spot has a river on one boundry, a high wall where rail road tracks go over on another side, and a private pasture/horse farm on the other and in the middle of it all is a highly used bedding thicket. Great stuff to watch them move in and out of the bedding area.
Hey I'm new

What's up everyone, I'm new to the forum and just wanted to say hey. Hopefully I posted this in the right section!
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