Scouting In The Offseason

John K. from Indiana asks: “what is the No. 1 thing I can do during the offseason to enhance my chances for taking a good buck off my hunting area?

Dr. Dave Samuel

That’s a great question and I know what my answer is. I’m a big believer in using aerial photos to improve my hunting success. Topo maps help too, showing streams, funnels, terrain, etc.

But aerial photos give exact details of your area. After each season, I haul out my notebook and maps, and make notes on the deer sign, trails, and buck sightings I made during the season. I review them again right before the next bow season. With each big buck sighting, you’ve learned more about your hunting area … where they feed, where they bed, where they rut, etc. After you’ve done this for several years, you can move your treestands with much better knowledge of the area.

For information and maps, there are several web sites to visit. Try,,, and

For a fine selection of Big Game Hunting gear, click here.

If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of’s content at

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he’s been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

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