By Alex Comstock
For most of us whitetail nuts out there, deer season truly never stops. To continually sharpen our craft, there is something we can be doing all times of the year -right now is no different. The cold and dreary days of winter are an opportune time to get out to your hunting properties and do a little scouting, you never know what you might learn walking a property when you’re not actually hunting it.
With this is mind, I reached out to Kyle Wieter, host of the Adrenaline Junkies TV show. I asked Kyle about a few things he does while post-season scouting, and how it can help you. There is some great information here to take with you the next time you hit the deer woods.
Q: First of all, when do you start your post-season scouting? What factors into your decision on when to start?
Kyle: For the most part, scouting really never stops. Even throughout the season I do a bit of micro scouting if necessary, to try and get on a certain buck. When the season ends, I am still running trail cameras regularly, but leave the whitetails alone to feed without pressure for a few weeks. By February 1st I am back out checking my cameras, checking plots for shed antlers, and making sure everything is in check as far as trespassers, etc. By mid-February I am starting to walk the deer trails from bed to feed with an aerial map in hand, marking exactly how the deer use the farm.
Q: What is the first thing you do when it comes to post season scouting? Is there something specifically you are going out to do, or is it more of a general thing?
Kyle: Again, having an aerial map and marking everything I can find that may give me a leg up the next season. Whitetails are the ultimate survival machines once they hit 5 years old, so I need all the help I can get.
Q: What kind of information are you hoping to find when you scout this time of the year? How does it help you in preparation of next year?
Kyle: I always walk the draws and travel corridors, looking for all deer sign. But when I find big deer sign, like a giant rub, I really start to slow down and try to understand why he’s in there. If he spends enough time in a certain area, or along a certain travel corridor, he’s comfortable there and will give himself away with the sign he leaves behind. I always compare what I noticed throughout the season while hunting to what I am seeing now in the post season. It’s all about connecting the dots.
Q: Do you scout areas you’ve hunted for years, or only new areas? What’s the reasoning behind this?
Kyle: I scout every inch of my farm with the exception of my designated sanctuaries. As you can imagine, deer love having a safety zone, and believe me they know where it’s at. I do look forward to scouting areas of the farm that I didn’t hunt the prior season, as there is always something to learn and a lot of times I find something that is pertinent to how the deer use that area, giving me even more options for the next season.
Q: To you, what is the most important component of post season scouting?
Kyle: Learning how the deer used the farm with that particular crop rotation, weather conditions, etc… all for future reference when the conditions are the same.
Q: If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who is going to go on a scouting mission soon, what would that be?
Kyle: Walk your hunting area with an aerial map in hand, so you can literally mark the deer trails, bedding, and where the majority of rubs/scrapes are. All the while looking for those perfect ambush locations for the next bow season. It’s great intel but a lot to take in without a map. Hence the reason for the map! Once you step back and look, it all starts to come together and the next season should be much easier to figure out.
– Alex Comstock, Whitetail DNA