For the most part, turkey seasons have wrapped up across the midwest and our attention has shifted to late August and September when we will head back the whitetail woods. Spring is a great time to get out and prepare your hunting grounds for the fall whitetail season. Below are a few quick summer scouting tips that will better your odds of tagging a whitetail this fall.
1. Move stands:Spring/early summer is the best time to relocate your stands to more productive areas. The open woods make it much easier to hang sets in areas that look promising or that you have flagged as prime spots from the previous season. It also will give the deer in your area time to adjust to the alterations after new lanes are cut. A lot of scent is left behind when a new set is hung and by getting them done early, the area will be back to normal in a couple of weeks allowing the deer to get back to their usual habits.
2. Get cams out:Yes, it’s early. Getting cameras out now may not show you the class of bucks you will have this fall being that they are in very early stages of antler growth, but it will show you travel routes. I tend to keep my cameras on edges and food sources now through mid-September. Knowing where the deer are hanging out as well as entry/exit routes can be very beneficial for early season hunts over food. Deer can become incredibly patternable early in the season. Not all of the bucks you see at this time will be there in the fall, but keeping tabs on their habits won’t hurt anything.
3. Plant food plots: It does not take a big plot to tag a great buck come fall. Often some of the most productive plots are those that are set back in the timber. Deer feel much safer in these areas and will stage up before dark to feed before heading out into the open fields at dusk. This is especially true for big bucks.
4.Knock on doors:Spring is a very good time to knock on doors. A lot of hunters wait until late summer or fall to ask permission but by then it could be too late. It is not an easy thing to do, and if you fear rejection this may be like pulling nose hairs, but all it takes is one yes to change the outcome of your season. A great tool is your county GIS site (Geographic Information System). The GIS tool will allow you to see property owner names, boundaries and parcel information.
5.Drive:As mentioned before, summer deer are very relaxed and often follow a lazy pattern. Bucks tend to hang out in groups and can often be seen feeding in bean and clover fields before dark. Bring good glass and put on the miles. If you are lucky enough to find an area that is holding a few good deer, refer to #4 and see if you can get lucky.
6.Exercise:You don’t have to be a gym buff and hit the bench five days a week, but a little cardio and free weights can go a long way. Staying conditioned can open the door for more aggressive hunting tactics in the fall
7.Shoot!:This one is simple. The more you shoot the more proficient you will be during the season. Finding the time is hard, but try to shoot at least once a week, even if it is only 20 arrows. Shooting regularly will keep your muscles toned and make you a more confident hunter.
8.Stay out: The last tip is a “don’t do.” Once you have cameras out and stands set, stay out of the woods. Don’t go marching out to check your cams every week because at this time of the year it just doesn’t matter. Even if a bachelor group of giant bucks is hitting the same field edge every night at 8:00 pm, you can’t kill them now anyway. What you are trying to do is crack the code of their summer pattern and the best way to do that is to let your cameras do the brunt of the work. The more you alter the area and leave scent behind, the more likely you are to change the patterns of the deer you are hunting, so stay out.
There you have it. The little things you do right now can go a long way. Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you fill your tag this fall.