What to look for when scouting now

By: John Eberhart

1.Last season’s scrapes: Because scrapes and especially primary scrape areas made by mature bucks are primarily made in high doe traffic areas, they appeal to all bucks in the area. When in the right types of areas and hunted correctly, hunting over active scrapes is as good as it gets.

Scrapes are most commonly made and revisited; at preferred food sources, in pinch points, and where terrain features force consolidation of deer traffic.


2. Natural food: When mast trees such as white oaks and fruit trees are located within sufficient perimeter cover and have adequate security cover to and from them, during the years they bear food they are awesome locations for the first few days of season and again during the rut phases if they’re still dropping food.

Although you won’t know what trees will produce food this fall, any fruit tree that meets the security cover requirements should be noted for setting-up as a location.


3. Within bedding areas: Bedding areas have many entry and exit routes with unlimited directions to go once outside and I don’t understand why more hunters don’t strategically hunt within the confines of their home.

The majority of daytime chasing and breeding by mature bucks also takes place within the secure confines of bedding areas and with limited rut-phase hunting time, why not hunt there?

When scouting interiors of bedding areas search for small openings where several runways may converge, mast trees, clusters of rubs or a rubline from last fall, and possibly a scrape area.

Scrape areas, natural food, and interiors of bedding areas are my top 3 choices and they all have one thing in common, they are destination locations or areas. Always search for destination locations where deer gravitate to for food and or sex.


4. Pinch points: Funnels are pretty basic and when found in travel corridors between bedding and feeding areas they are best suited for early season hunting when feeding is the primary concern.

Funnels in travel corridors between bedding areas are suited only for rut phase hunting and I key on them far more than bedding to feeding area funnels because I have locations set-up at natural feeding destination areas.


5. Five is a requirement for every location: In heavily pressured areas if there’s not adequate transition and perimeter security cover at any location, the likelihood of a daytime visit by a mature buck is extremely low.

Security cover is so vital to daytime movements that when scouting public and heavily hunted private areas I have a rule I never waver on.

If I can easily access a location that has awesome buck sign, it won’t get set-up because other hunters will also find it and screw up the area. The likelihood that a mature buck visited that location and made or left that sign during the security of darkness is nearly 100%.

In such areas only pay attention to sign left in areas where few if any other hunters are willing to go. Locations only accessible by using chest waders, hip boots, canoe, boat, or crawling through brush are where you need to scout.

Interestingly, those areas will be the same areas mature bucks feel secure moving in during daylight. Think of it this way. If all the hunters in the area were trying to kill you, where are the places on the property where you might feel secure moving in, or transitioning through during daylight hours. Once you find those locations and there is sign, you can bet that if there hunted correctly, there’s a good chance of an opportunity.