Bowhunters: Stay Out of The Woods

It’s August. Bow season opens next month in many states and bowhunters are pumped. Our bows are tuned, our broadheads are sharp and all of that practice is paying dividends with tight groups.

Gary Clancy

We are ready and we can’t wait to get into the woods and do some pre-season scouting. But as hard as it is to do, you will be doing yourself a favor if you stay out of the woods at this time of the year. Yes, you heard me right, I said, STAY OUT OF THE WOODS!

You see, you really can’t accomplish anything by stumbling around the woods right now. There are no rubs or scrapes to find and even if you do find a trail or two, odds are good that the deer might not even be using those trails once the season opens. About all you can hope for are plenty of mosquito bites, lots of sweat, maybe some poison ivy and oh yes, an opportunity to disturb the deer you plan to hunt!

Hey, I spend as much time as anyone I know in the woods, but now is not the time to do it.

You still can get ready by being smart with your scouting. That means doing some long-range snooping. Let your binoculars and spotting scope work for you, because there will be plenty of opportunity to wear out the boots later on.

What I like to do is spend my evenings sitting in my pickup truck glassing the fields or clear-cuts where deer are coming to chow down. Soybeans and alfalfa are tops in much of the whitetail’s range. Deer also show up well in these fields and are easy to glass.

Let your binoculars and spotting scope work for you now before the season opens because there will be plenty of opportunity to wear out the boots later on.

If a field cannot be glassed from the pickup, I will try to find a high vantage point far enough away so that I do not risk spooking the deer in the field. Sometimes I use a tree stand for these evening snoop sessions, but more often I find a high hill, a stack of bales or something, which will give me the elevation I need. I’ve even gone so far as to hire a pilot with a small plane to fly me around for an hour in the evening. You can check out a lot of hidden fields from the air in a short time and often it is these secluded fields that attract the largest bucks.

Once I’ve found the deer I want to hunt, I watch them for a couple of evenings to try to determine exactly where they are entering the field. With that information in hand, I go look for other deer and wait. A week or so before the season opens I’ll go back to my best spots, make sure that the deer are still using the same food source and entering the field at the same locations and then I’ll slip in and hang my stands. I won’t go back until I hunt the stand.

That may sound like a lazy way of scouting to you, but it is the most effective and least obtrusive form of pre-season scouting I know.

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