Bow season will be here before you know it. It is hot, but I am in the woods doing what I call pre-season speed scouting. Bow hunting is not really about bows, it’s all about getting close to the game. I believe tree stand placement is the most important part of the hunt. Intense scouting helps me to pick the right tree. I do not have the luxury of hunting property that I am familiar with. Some people don’t scout as much because they already know where the deer travel year after year on their property. I have to find the deer.
So I begin my scouting by using a topographic map and satellite imagery which you can find on Google Maps. However, the most important tool is actual boots on the ground. First I find land features that attract deer. I get this information from satellite imagery. The land features that I look for are woodlots, elevations on ridges, drainage or creeks. I find creeks important because they have everything a deer needs. Water, browse, food and the higher ridges around the creek offers bedding cover. Since creeks are natural travel routes for deer, I also use it to go in and out of my stands. They are quiet and they keep me hidden. Take the creek and follow until it comes to a deer crossing. Seeing a rut dug into the bank with fresh deer tracks is what to look for. This will then lead you to a well worn deer path.
I spend time following the deer path in both directions. Look for fresh deer droppings, this tells me the trail is being used daily. Finding old rubs and scrapes from the previous year is a plus. This trail will usually intersect lesser trails; this is where I will place a stand. During the rut, bucks will travel these lesser trails to scent check for does. After scouting the main trail for a good distance and I am convinced that it connects bedding cover and food sources, a second stand will be hung where I predict will be the down wind side of the trail.
I also will hang other stands, one near the bedding area for the morning hunt and the other near the food source for the evening hunt. Morning stands should placed on higher elevation up the ridge and evening near the creek. The reason for this is because of air thermals. Thermals are the sun heating cool air in the morning which causes it to rise, air then cools in the evening which causes it to sink. I would not put my stand low in the morning because the rising air would carry my scent across the trails, running parallel to the ridge and creek. The opposite would be true in the evening. A helpful hint is high in the morning, low in the evening. Bow hunting deer is a complex and detailed sport and takes a lot of time to learn. But since I do not always have time to scout, which entails long hours, I have found speed scouting to be an effective way for a bow shot. I’ve consistently had success with this set up. Success is not necessarily harvesting a deer, but just seeing deer because I was in the right tree, and got close to the game.