(Creator photographs)

Deer season is over and it’s time to look towards subsequent fall and winter. Deer hunters who persistently expertise success don’t merely get fortunate. They put within the effort and time it takes to fill tags annually. Extra particularly, they spend time postseason scouting for deer.

February is a superb time to finish such efforts, largely since you not want to fret about pressuring deer. Some bucks made it by way of the season, and now is a superb window to study as a lot about them and their core areas as doable. It’s time to place the items of the puzzle collectively, so you may have a clearer image of your looking areas and goal bucks subsequent season.

Listed here are 15 essential suggestions it’s best to know.

1. Shed Looking

Start the method by scouting digitally. Seek for high-odds places, after which rank every space by significance — eliminating the “dud areas” within the course of. This may enable you to hit one of the best areas, particularly if attempting to cowl lots of floor and green-up arrives earlier than you end. Apps like onX and HuntStand will additional enable you to keep away from areas that aren’t price pursuing, saving you time within the course of.


2. Use Path Cameras

Depart your cameras operating past the tip of deer season. Doing so will permit you to proceed capturing pictures/movies properly into the postseason, so you’ll be able to acquire extra intel as to which bucks would possibly nonetheless be alive, and the place you would possibly discover a good buck in the course of the colder months subsequent season.

3. Historical past Repeats Itself

As you start postseason scouting, keep in mind previous intel that may assist with this course of. Digital camera photographs, sightings in the course of the season, discoveries from previous years, and extra, are all glorious issues to make word of yr after yr.

4. Verify Hunter Hotspots

Discover hotspots the place deer spent ample time in the course of the season, together with meals sources, water sources, and thick cowl.

Those that hunt public lands and with shared permission on personal floor ought to keep in mind the place they noticed concentrations of hunters in the course of the season. These hunters have been there for a purpose, and it is advisable to know why. Even if you happen to don’t hunt those self same spots, it’s good to know what’s happening all through the overall space.

5. Verify Current Signal

As you stroll the land, search for beds, droppings, rubs, scrapes, tracks, and extra. Discovering these items will present how the native deer are utilizing the property. In fact, doing this with snow on the bottom makes all of the aforementioned signal far more seen.

6. Meals

Meals drives most all deer exercise, however particularly so in the course of the late and postseason. Good areas to cowl can have high quality wintertime meals sources, akin to harvested crops (waste grain), standing crops (soybeans and corn), brassica plots, wheatfields, remaining mast, woody browse (buds, stems, and leaves), and extra.

7. Lower Some Tracks

Discovering deer tracks is nice. However chopping a set of mature buck tracks is a real blessing. If that occurs, comply with these hoofprints all over the place they go. Doing so will usually lead you to hidden beds, in addition to desired meals and water sources.

8. Observe Tracks to Beds

Observe tracks and trails again into cowl to see the place deer mattress, particularly mature bucks.

Observe all tracks and trails again into bedding areas. This may enable you to chart precisely the place deer are spending their daylight. Sit down within the beds and go searching. Understanding these places and understanding what deer see from them is the muse of a hunt plan in the course of the season. It can let you know how shut you may get with out spooking deer.

9. Remoted Water Sources

Most deer don’t prefer to drink at loud, operating water sources. Giant our bodies of water are additionally undesirable. As an alternative, discover remoted water sources which can be small, probably stagnant, and inside or on the perimeter of bedding cowl.

10. Pinpoint Funnels

The rut is a superb time to see a mature buck. Oftentimes, at the moment of yr, deer will be intercepted alongside funnels and pinchpoints. A few of these embrace saddles, slim strips of bushes, fencerows, fence gaps, creek and ditch crossings, benches, ridgelines, and different areas that power or encourage deer motion right into a narrower space.

11. Shed Looking

Most bucks shed their antlers in the course of the month of February, making the latter a part of the month a great time to search out them.

Postseason scouting is usually about discovering signal and understanding how deer are utilizing the world. That mentioned, it’s additionally about shed looking. These dropped antlers will let you know whether or not or not the buck’s you have been after made it by way of the season. In fact, sheds gained’t let you know the place to hunt in the course of the early season, pre-rut, or rut, however they’ll reveal potential late-season looking alternatives.

12. Habitat Enchancment Tasks

For individuals who personal or handle personal land, now’s the time to work on enhancing the habitat in your floor. Some recommended habitat-improvement tasks to think about embrace hinge-cutting, creating bedding areas, clearing new meals plots, putting in waterholes, creating entry routes, and extra. Do these “chores” instantly following your postseason scouting efforts.

13. Mark Potential Stand Places

As you’re scouting, it’s essential to notice potential stand places in your app or map. Doing this may enable you to keep in mind them in the course of the season to come back. Putting a marker on the precise tree, and never the overall space, will make it simpler so that you can discover — even at midnight.

14. Establish Attainable Entry Routes

Treestands are nugatory if you happen to can’t journey to and from them with out alerting deer. Whereas within the subject, it’s paramount to future success if you happen to can first discover ambush entry/exit routes, after which determine whether or not or not they’ll work.

15. Paint a Image

One of the best factor hunters can do is use expertise to spotlight scouting intel. Utilizing a great looking app, report all findings whereas postseason scouting. With the “Hint Path” characteristic turned on within the app, stroll each path on the property. If it is advisable to get off a path, pause the characteristic to forestall false path traces. Whereas doing this, drop related pins for all signal discoveries (beds, droppings, rubs, scrapes, tracks, and so forth.). Do the identical for deer sightings, big-buck digital camera photographs, and some other intel of curiosity. Then, with all postseason scouting info highlighted, you’ll finally paint an image of how deer are utilizing the property — additional simplifying issues come looking season.

Now could be the time to get the job performed. Put within the work, and I promise you’ll be glad you probably did this fall.

The Timeline Antithesis

Some hunters want to not wait till the postseason to start their wintertime scouting. They start as quickly as they end looking and filling their tags for the yr. Their hope is to search out the freshest signal doable. Public-land hunters, particularly, have a tendency to do that. I don’t like this idea for a number of causes. Different hunters are possible nonetheless within the subject. It’s extremely egocentric and impolite to tromp by way of an space simply to satisfy your wants. Deal with different hunters with respect. You push deer round when scouting, probably placing them within the laps of your looking brethren (it’s okay to be egocentric when following this rule). There’s nonetheless some signal left to be laid down by deer. Wait a bit longer for the rest of it to be positioned on the panorama. Most deer don’t start dropping antlers till February/March. Scouting too quickly will trigger you to search out fewer sheds. The later it will get in winter, the extra open the panorama turns into — making it simpler to identify what you’re in search of.

Postseason Errors

There are various errors to keep away from in the course of the late season. Some are minor, whereas others might probably damage you in the long term.

  • Beginning too late: Ready too lengthy can provide different hunters and critters time to get better sheds first. Ready till the panorama begins to green-up additionally begins to cover essential signal like rubs, scrapes, sheds, tracks, and so forth.
  • Overlaying too little floor: The extra floor you cowl, the higher the chances of discovering what you’re in search of.
  • Avoiding bedding areas: Now could be the time to search out precisely the place deer are laying down. Discover the bedrooms postseason, after which arrange accordingly earlier than the following season opens.
  • Anticipating deer to be in the identical location all season: Deer transfer about their residence ranges based mostly on their wants all year long.
  • Not scouting sanctuaries: Some hunters don’t invade sanctuaries in the course of the season, which is an idea many subscribe to. However even these hunters ought to scout sanctuaries in the course of the postseason.
  • Placing an excessive amount of inventory in previous signal: Make word of rubs you discover from two or three years prior, however don’t rank them as extremely as these you discovered most not too long ago.

Why You Cannot Discover Sheds

  • Looking areas the place late/postseason deer don’t spend time: Hunters gained’t discover sheds the place deer don’t frequent round drop time.
  • Looking out too early: Shed looking isn’t productive till deer lose their antlers for the winter.
  • Looking out too late: This offers different shed-hounds and critters time to search out the antlers earlier than you.
  • Scouring the improper locations: Look close to high-odds places first, akin to bedding areas, journey routes, water/meals sources, fence crossings, and so forth.
  • Not utilizing your eyes appropriately: Except glassing an open space, spend most of your time scanning the bottom inside 30 yards of your place.
  • Considering too huge: Don’t search for a complete antler. As an alternative, search for the tip of a tine. Assume small, and also you’re extra prone to spot antlers.
  • Not glassing sufficient: Binoculars are glorious instruments for locating sheds, particularly whenever you see one thing that appears like a shed however aren’t sure.
  • Overlaying too little floor: It takes lots of strolling (or driving) to search out many sheds.
  • Getting distracted too simply: Keep centered in your aim.
  • Not recruiting assist: Bringing others alongside can up the chances of stacking sheds. Simply keep in mind to return the favor.
  • Failing to make use of a canine: A canine’s nostril is significantly better than yours, so let your four-legged “bestie” do what we will’t.
  • Going with no plan: At all times have a technique in place. If it’s not working, then adapt accordingly.

Postseason Scouting Gear

  • Path cameras for stock.
  • Good boots and socks to forestall blisters.
  • Layered clothes to keep away from thorns.
  • Chaps to forestall leg accidents.
  • Turkey vest or pack to carry sheds, path cameras, and so forth.
  • High quality optics.
  • An excellent looking app to report findings.

The creator is an completed out of doors author, photographer, and videographer with work showing in additional than 80 looking magazines and web sites.

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