There are 365 days in a year and roughly 29 days dedicated to big game hunting season (depending on your location) leaving approximately 336 days to prepare for the upcoming season. While preparing for the upcoming season doesn’t typically take 336 days, big game archery season is much more than a one-month event.
When it comes to scouting and season prep we all have our preferences. Oftentimes these preferences are established based on our hunting style. Some people simply hop in the truck opening day and drive around looking for a buck while others lace up the boots, throw the pack on and head for the hills with their salt and trail cameras. And, of course, there are a variety of scouting techniques that fall somewhere in between. It’s all about finding what fits best for your hunting style.
So where to begin? Let’s look at several different scouting techniques and how they work. As we sort through his list, keep in mind that every state contains its own unique regulations so it’s important to first be familiar with what is and what isn’t legal in your particular state.
Thanks to the internet we have the ability to begin the scouting process from the comfort of our phones or computers. And, it’s a great place to begin, especially when you are gearing up to hunt a new area. You can use free services like Google Earth or paid services like OnX or Basemap. In a nutshell, the satellite images allow us to look at different areas and make note of the food supply, habitat, water sources, roads, access, and so on.
As you find areas that look promising mark them on your GPS or in whatever app you prefer so you can easily find them when it comes time to set a few trail cameras. Be sure to note the closest access roads and distance. Remember, if you are successful in this spot you will be packing your harvest out.
Here’s the really cool thing about online scouting, you can utilize it all year long to study areas you plan to hunt.
As the snow melts and the areas you marked become accessible its time to lace up the boots, strap on the pack and get hiking (typically around May or June depending on your location). This is not only beneficial for scouting but also helps you get in shape for the season ahead.
So, what are we looking for? Sign, of course. Be sure to keep an eye out for rubs, game trails, tracks, wallows, and fresh poop. These are all indications that you have found a promising spot that may be worthy of your trail camera, tree stand, or ground blind.
Take note of the lay of the land and get as familiar with it as possible. This can only play to your advantage when it comes time to hunt.
And, of course, don’t forget to set waypoints for all of the spots you need to remember come hunting season like wallows, where you set your cameras, and so on.
This is where things get really fun. There are few things better than capturing images of wildlife on your camera, especially when its a monster buck or herd bull. While it is tempting to head in every week to see what new images you have, its best to check the cameras about once a month. You want to keep the pressure off the animals and minimize the risk of bumping them out prior to the season.
When it comes time to hike in and see what’s happening. Go ahead and throw a little extra weight in your pack to help you get into “hunting shape.”
When you put the time in prior to season you are starting your big game season with your best foot forward and your best chance at harvesting an animal. Remember, there are 365 days in a year, roughly 29 days dedicated to big game hunting season (depending on your location), and about 336 days preparing for the upcoming season.
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