It’s an oft-preached, small-practiced whitetail method. But, winter scouting may well be the single ideal way to comprehend the comings and goings of fall whitetails. I’ll admit that for fairly a handful of years I didn’t fully grasp the benefit of spending time in the immediate postseason, trying to divine the secrets of the past season’s bucks.
It wasn’t until I felt like I had a shot at an absolute giant public-land buck that I began to stroll my hunting grounds in the months sandwiched among deer and turkey season. What I discovered that year was that the buck I was right after staged on a specific ridge on the house, as was evidenced when I discovered one of his shed antlers. The buck also spent element of the winter on that public parcel.
What was most impressive to me, although, was what was written all through the woods in his chosen neighborhood. It was a story of a buck that would have easily created Boone & Crockett, and how he navigated a house with intense hunting pressure. His thigh-sized rubs, dished-out scrapes, and etched trails by way of the swampy lowlands had been the breadcrumbs that showed the clear connection among his backyard sanctuary, and the land on which I could hunt him.
I didn’t kill that buck, but I did arrow his buddy the following October. If it weren’t for hours spent hiking by way of the winter woods, I’d have never filled my tag on that specific deer. Because that encounter, I’ve devoted significantly of my winter free of charge time to hiking by way of the deer woods. It is a technique that has paid off in a number of whitetails for me, and honestly, it has taught me much more about deer than I realized I had left to understand.
The reality is that there is no much better time to figure out final season’s sign and figure out why and where it was made than winter. The terrain is laid bare, rubs are very visible, and you’re not afraid to stroll through bedding regions and other off-limits, in-season cover. Where I live, some of the greatest deer ground is covered in swamps and other wet obstacles, which are frozen throughout the winter. That implies I can hike proper into the places that are an absolute pain to get to in the course of the season.
The important to winter scouting is not basically to take a walk and ogle the rublines of the previous fall, but rather to use what you find to make a strategy. I like to determine and mark stand trees whenever feasible, and to run a handful of cameras to take inventory of just what bucks made it by means of the season. Realizing that a few deer survived the season and will probably be about subsequent fall makes winter scouting much far more enjoyable. It also allows you to guess at who created what sign, or just which buck will claim the best areas.
Winter scouting, along with postseason inventory, demands a couple of things that will help you put every thing together. The inventory portion is relatively easy, because it requires operating some cameras. To get my whitetail repair in the postseason, I’ve started employing some of the wireless cameras that are obtainable.
I’ve spent the most time with HCO’s Spartan GoCam ($ 380–$ 470). Setup with the GoCam is a breeze, and I’ve had outstanding battery life even for the duration of January and February, when winter weather tends to sap the life out of a fresh set of AA’s. New for this year, HCO is providing U.S. Cellular and Sprint models to add to their existing line, which currently involves AT&T and Verizon offerings. These pay-as-you-go cameras are crazy addictive, and can be a ton of fun when placed over a winter food supply to see which bucks survived the gauntlet throughout the fall.
Moultrie has designed a actually economical way to go wireless, with their new Mobile Field Modem MV1 ($ 200). This program is compatible with most Moultrie trail cameras that have been produced in 2015 or later, and it works with the new Moultrie Mobile website so that you can download the free app and then log in to check out your photos. The program also sends you an e-mail or a text to let you know when you’ve got new pictures. With the app, you will also be in a position to check and modify the settings on most cameras.
Bushnell has a wonderful inventory alternative as nicely in their Trophy Cam HD Aggressor Wireless ($ 515). For this year, the wireless camera makes use of Accurate GPS to send the camera’s place as quickly as it is turned on, which is a excellent way to track down unscrupulous individuals who may possibly steal your camera. The HD Aggressor also attributes a lightning-rapidly, .three-second trigger speed, takes 14MP images, and can be operated off of a totally free app.
Feeding deer is a no-no in most areas where I winter scout, so I do not bother. That is not the case for everyone, of course. If you can keep on the appropriate side of the law and feed your local herd, there is no greater way to take a accurate survivors’ inventory. Redneck Blinds gives up a ideal choice in their T-Post Gravity Feeder ($ one hundred), which is produced to hold 80 lbs. of corn.
Inventory is entertaining, but it’s the boots on the ground that will assist you realize deer habits greater. For this stage you have got to, effectively, place some boots on the ground. Rocky’s Stratum Footwear ($ 100–$ 140) is up to the task with its athletic-shoe fit (so essential), rugged outsoles for tricky or icy terrain, and guaranteed Rocky Waterproofing. These boots are uninsulated, which could not sound like the ideal selection for winter scouting in northern haunts, but scouting is not hunting, and when you are on the move, a very good pair of socks and boots like the Stratums are all you will require.
Winter scouting entails a lot of brush busting, sort of like when hunting late-season pheasants without having a dog. You have to go into the thick stuff, and that requires pants that can deal with prickly ash, raspberry tangles, alder thickets, and so on. Cabela’s new Instinct Backcountry Packable Super Warm Down Pants ($ 200) feature a waterproof seat and knees, will hold you lots warm, and can be stuffed into a pack when not becoming worn.
Another packable element of my winter-scouting ensemble is NOMAD’s Integrator Shell Jacket ($ 125). This outer shell is one hundred% waterproof, which is crucial simply because if you commit adequate days tromping by way of bedding locations in March, you’ll get rained, snowed, or sleeted on at some point. This higher-good quality jacket can be rolled up and stuffed into a daypack as soon as the skies clear.
Browning Outside Clothes has released a killer lineup of apparel that is ideally suited for trekking through the timber, with their Hell’s Canyon Speed Hellfire Jacket ($ 260) a personal favorite. This breathable, insulated, water and wind-resistant jacket is fitted with a assortment of pockets, and it’s supplied in sizes ranging from S–3XL.
Along with a very good jacket, there are two other things I carry in my pack for each and every wintertime trek. The initial is a excellent saw, like the new Freescape Camp Saw ($ 59) from Gerber. This saw folds flat for transport, characteristics 12″ of cutting surface, and weighs less than a pound. When I uncover a spot on private ground exactly where I want a stand next fall, I do not wait to reduce shooting lanes and entrance and exit routes. I get it accomplished now, and then sneak back in early summer season to do a touchup job. This tends to make the procedure of setting up a quality ambush site much easier.
The other factor I usually carry is a package of White Reflective Trail Tacks ($ two) from Hunters Specialties. When you find a tree that is best for a stand, you think you will remember its precise place. Come summer, the woods will appear totally distinct, and that no-doubt tree may possibly be lost in a forest of similar-looking options. Reflective tacks are cheap insurance coverage against stand-spot amnesia.
Of course, whilst we have a tendency to feel of winter scouting in terms of cruising through a property we are currently familiar with, there is the real possibility of locating new deer ground and walking it in the postseason. OnXmaps Hunt ($ 15–$ one hundred) is 1 of the best resources for employing the newest in technologies to recognize each private and public parcels, and just how to access either just by gazing at your smartphone, personal computer, tablet, or GPS.
ScoutLook (free of charge) is another tool that has turn out to be invaluable to me. I use it throughout the season to check wind direction and climate updates, but I also use it in the postseason to mark potential stand web sites, sign, entrance and exit routes, and anything else that might help me come fall. It’s like taking detailed notes of each winter-scouting discovery that sooner or later paints the whole image of your deer woods in a way that will adjust how you scout and hunt.