Outdoor Articles

Pre-Season Whitetail Scouting

by Pursue The Outdoors on August 15th, 2007 in Big Game Hunting

When you are getting ready for the whitetail season you should begin scouting in late summer by watching likely food sources. Does, fawns and bucks will be loading up on succulent grasses, clovers, ripening grains, berries and sedges at this time. Bucks don’t always use the same food sources as the does, they often stay closer to their bedding areas. If they use the same food sources as the does they may appear either earlier or later than the does. By cruising roads with a good set of binoculars near agricultural crops and meadows during the morning and evening you can learn which fields the bucks use.

If you are there early enough in the evening you may see the bucks arrive and be able to determine where they came from. If you stay late enough you may be able to see them go to either another food source or back toward the bedding area. Because buck’s don’t travel very far at this time of year their bedding area should be nearby.

When you see bucks at early morning food sources stay long enough to see which way they leave. In the morning deer usually work their way slowly from open areas, to high grass or brush and finally into heavy brush or woods where they feed and bed intermittently throughout the day. Once you know the route they take back to the bedding area you can setup along it during the hunting season.

The buck’s rub route usually winds through several doe use areas before ending up at a night time food source, then through other doe use areas as the buck moves back toward the bedding area early in the morning, before daylight. You should find several rubs along the evening rub route, and scrapes in transition zones, near food sources, along field edges and near doe bedding areas.


Following the buck’s route back to the bedding area in the morning can be difficult because they often travel under cover of darkness in the early morning which makes them feel secure enough to travel in the open, where there are few trees and consequently few rubs and scrapes, until they reach the safety of the trees in their bedding area during daylight hours.

If you have time to watch buck rub-route trails you can learn not only where, but when the buck uses the trail. Finding the rub route and knowing when the buck uses it helps you choose the right time and place to hunt. If you don’t have time to watch the trail you can use a Trail Timer or Game Camera to let you know what time the buck comes through the area.

If you don’t use a timer or camera to find out the buck’s travel time the best strategy is to find it’s bedding area and setup as near to it as possible, using different stand sites for morning and evening and varying wind conditions. By getting close enough to the bedding area to watch it but far enough away so you don’t alert the buck to your presence you increase the chances of seeing the buck during daylight hours.

By spending extra time and effort Observing, Scouting, Patterning and Recording the food sources, and travel and rub routes prior to the hunting season, you cut down the amount of nonproductive hunting during the season. Then you will know where to find the buck and at what time, so you can use techniques to ambush or attract it to you.

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