Now that the hunting season is over, it is time to get busy scouting for next year.  Hunters to seldom spend much time scouting during deer season.  Now is the time to do that scouting.  Deer sign and trails remain highly visible.  Vegetation will conceal most of it for the balance of the year. 

Now is the time the deer herd’s food and water sources, bedding areas and travel routes are visible.  They are essential in the placement of treestands next fall. 

Now is the time to analyze hunting plans and evaluate successes and failures in the season just past.  Some changes may improve opportunities for next year.  Examine the area as if it were new.  Re-evaluate the food, water and cover situations with an eye to relocating treestands. 

Learn areas bucks do and do not use.  Look for sheds, follow trails to see what they connect and learn the area as much as possible.  If there is a particularly large buck is in the area, it is a good idea to key scouting toward his activity.  Begin where he was last seen. 

Drive roads in the area and check out the perimeters of the fields for rubs and scrapes.  Look for the prime food sources learn the lay of the land in a five mile diameter to that location.  Walk the land in a grid pattern looking for shed antlers.  If a large shed antler is found in the area, chances are that big guy will be back there next year. 

Big deer have survived the hunting season and there is no reason for them to move to another area when this one is secure.  Pay attention to the direction of trails and the number of rubs along them.  The number of rubs is directly related to the amount of time bucks spend on that trail. 

A well traveled trail indicates that it is used by a lot of deer, but more importantly the deer are going somewhere that is important to them. 

Trails usually connect feeding and bedding areas, but they can also link two feeding areas, two bedding areas, breeding and bedding areas and even special security areas.  Their presence or absence and the amount of use, give a strong clue as to preferred areas and seldom used areas. 

After walking the areas, a good picture of the deer’s backyard can be worked out.  The more use a trail gets the more worn it becomes.  Important trails are wider, deeper and show more use.  More scouting helps to better predict the deer activity. 

Deer prefer to use cover when traveling and big bucks will seldom venture out in the open.  If a deer has to cross an open area, such as a road, field, etc., it will cross at the most narrow point.  If the trail has to cross a road, look for a place where two brushy edges come close together on either side of the road.  The deer will likely cross there.  If tracks are found in an area, it probably is a good place for a treestand. 

Post‑season scouting is a good way to increase chances of success.  Learn the territory.  Learn deer movements and habits.  Place stands accordingly.  If using portable treestands, map the area and mark a number of good locations to be used as needed.  Deer season does not end.  The next season begins with post season scouting.


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