10 Post-Season Deer Scouting Tips


How Many of These Things Do You Do?

Locate Food Sources

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1 | Locate Food Sources

Food. It’s king. Finding all of the different food sources that deer key on from September to January is important. If you know what they’re eating, you have a third of what you need to know to make a plan next fall.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Aleori

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Pinpoint Water Sources

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2 | Pinpoint Water Sources

Water is crucial. Without it, deer won’t be there. Find secluded water sources close to bedding areas to find water sources that bucks will be using during daylight hours. It’s important to not overlook water, as most deer go to water before food when they rise from their beds of an afternoon.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Trent Arend

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Find Bedding Areas

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3 | Find Bedding Areas

Ah, the primary piece of the puzzle. Find their bed and you’re almost there. Now, just pair that information with food- and water-source locations (so you know which direction they’ll go when leaving from or returning to their beds) and it gives you a much better odds of connecting on your target deer. But remember, food sources and bedding areas are seasonal. They change throughout the year.

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Photo Credit: Tony Campbell

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Look for Deer Sign

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4 | Look for Deer Sign

Scouting trails, tracks, scat and other sign help connect the dots between bedding areas, food sources and water sources. Use this sign to help finish painting the picture of how deer use a given property.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Chris Brannon

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Look for Human Sign

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5 | Look for Human Sign

Also, if you have shared permission on private land or if you hunt public land, look for human sign, too. This will help eliminate places you shouldn’t focus on. In pressured areas, it’s all about finding those overlooked spots that don’t get any, or at the very least receive less.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Kramynina

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Mark Everything on a Map

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6 | Mark Everything on a Map

Mark the previous five things on an aerial map (physical or digital) when you find them. This puts everything in perspective and helps illustrate your findings in a more digestible way. Plus, it puts all of your findings in one location where you can go back and reference weeks, months and years down the road, long after you’ve forgotten them.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Artjazz

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Identify Treestand Locations

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7 | Identify Treestand Locations

Keep an eye out for good stand locations while afield. Mark the tree on a map. Also, look at your finished findings after you’re done scouting. Look for potential stand locations on the map. Then go back to the field and look at potential trees to hang stands in for the next season.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Gaby Fitz

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Create Entry and Exit Routes

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8 | Create Entry and Exit Routes

If you can’t get to your stand without spooking deer, it isn’t a good stand location. Period. That’s why, on private land, it’s crucial to create good entry and exit routes to and from your stand locations during the post-season. Doing the work now won’t bother deer patterns next fall. Remember, one of the biggest reasons you’re doing the work now is so not to pressure deer closer to season.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Polarpx

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Hang Stands and Setup Blinds

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9 | Hang Stands and Setup Blinds

Again, do the work now. Hang as many treestands as you can well in advance. Sure, you’ll end up hanging some right before and during the season, too. But do what you can now so you don’t have as much to do later. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing that. That way you can point to a dead buck next fall like my wife, Kathryn, is in the photo. We hung this stand months before the season opened.

Don’t Miss: 10 Ways to Improve Entry and Exit Routes

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Cut Shooting Lanes

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10 | Cut Shooting Lanes

Cutting shooting lanes now while the vegetation is off is critical for two reasons. First, you aren’t pressuring deer. Second, what you see now is close to what it will be when the leaves fall off again next season. Waiting to trim lanes when the leaves are back on oftentimes results in removing too much cover.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Goran Petric

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Post-season scouting is an important part of preparing for the next one. What you do now has an extensive effect on your success next fall and winter. That’s why it’s important to get out and do the work now so you can enjoy the rewards later. Here are 10 tips for scouting this winter and spring.