It’s July and bucks are finally sporting some substantial headgear. This is the beginning of a great period of time for hunters to start taking inventory of the bucks in their hunting areas. As you’ve seen in some of my previous posts, this is something I’ve started to do pretty frequently the last couple weeks. Whether you just want to know what kind of deer you have in the area or if you want to scout a specific buck, now is the best time to start developing that hit list. There are three main ways that I know of to start getting eyeballs on bucks in the summer. Set up trail cams, sit out over fields on your property and glass neighboring pieces of land. Do these three things and you’ll begin to get a solid idea of what kinds of bucks you’ll be chasing this fall! Here are a few tips for doing each of these things…
– Set Your Cameras Up Over Minerals or Bait: Where legal, this is one of the best ways to concentrate deer activity around your cameras. Throw down some corn, a salt lick or an attractant like BB^2. You’ll get a lot more pics and a lot higher quality, as deer will be standing right in front of your camera, rather than walking by it. Using this method, you can take a pretty thorough census of your deer population. For more info about using your trailcams to survey your population, check out this article from Lindsey Thomas of Quality Whitetails.
– Set Up Over Travel Corridors: If it is not legal to use bait, minerals, etc in your state you will have to try the next best strategy. As far as I know, the best option is setting your cameras over travel corridors. Find those natural funnels, like fence rows, stream crossings, etc and strap on a camera that will capture that movement through these areas. When covering a travel corridor, try to angle the camera down the trail, rather than having it perpendicular. This will allow you to capture images of walking deer a little sooner, which will cut down on the number of deer that have walked out of the frame. If you’re in this kind of situation I would also recommend trying to buy cameras with very quick trigger speeds, you’ll get a lot better and more pics this way as deer walk past.
Observing Your Fields:
– Observe Soybean, Alfalfa and Clover Fields: These types of low height, lush and nutritious crops are prime observation areas for summer time bucks. Look for bachelor groups of bucks hitting these fields hard as they pack on the protein before fall.
– Be Scent Conscious: Even though hunting season is a long ways off, you still need to keep scent in mind. Make sure the wind is right when you sit over fields because you obviously don’t want deer on the field hitting your scent and spooking off.
– Make As Little Disturbance As Possible: Whether it’s with scent, sound or just sight, try and make as little impact on the deer as possible. Keeping them unaware of your presence will keep deer coming to the fields in the future and will preserve this area as a good observation post and eventually as a hunting location. Maintain a good distance from the deer your scouting and try to enter and exit the fields without alarming deer.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget bug spray or your thermacell! This can make or break a trip! I’ve made that mistake a time or two haha.
Glassing Neighboring Properties From The Road:
– Scout The Surrounding Areas: A buck has a home range that usually includes many sqaure miles of property, most often this is on a number of different people’s land. That being said, don’t limit your scouting to just your piece of ground. Drive around the neighboring areas and glass their fields as well. These deer could be showing up on your property too, especially during the rut.
– Invest In Optics: Whether you are glassing a field from a truck or from your own land, you really need good optics. Whether you go with a spotting scope or binoculars, nothing can be more frustrating than a blurry, small image when you’re trying to get a good look at a rack. Getting a quality optic will make your glassing that much more enjoyable and fruitful.
So there you have it. Three simple steps to better knowing the bucks on your property as we head into the home stretch til hunting season. Although these aren’t revolutionary ideas, they are still important to keep in mind and taking the time to do this summer time scouting can some times mean the difference between a tag sandwich and a buck on the wall.
But maybe more importantly, this stuff is just plain fun.