Don’t operate like everyone else. Work backward instead.
Deer season just ended and the blues are multiplying with each passing day. It’s eight to nine months before it reopens, but that’s a good thing. Now you can get out there and do all the things you’ve procrastinated on. And you can do so without pressuring deer.
I recently did an interview with Bruce Hutcheon on how to hunt a new property. We covered different approaches for different phases of the season. But here, I’m going to cover how to learn a property once the season closes, and it all comes down to one big tip.
Step 1: Work Backward
This is something that’s evolved over time for me. I’m not just trying to do something different from everyone else. I really believe this is the best way to post-season scout. You must find your low-profile entry and exit routes first. You can’t hunt an area effectively if deer know you’re hunting them. Overcoming that becomes priority during the post-season.
I have a good friend named Jim Hill who put this in perspective for me. He said, “If you’re going to rob somebody’s house, you wouldn’t go walking up to the front door banging on a bass drum, and then start sneaking around once you got to the front door. You would have to start sneaking long before you even get into the neighborhood.”
Step 2: Stand Locations
That’s the whole key to success, if you want to call it that, with hunting white-tailed deer. You find the entry and exit routes first. Then, you look for the best food plot and/or stand locations along these low-profile, sneaky, in-and-out routes. Oftentimes, these include shallow, navigable creeks with high banks, ravines, ditches, drainages, walls of thick cover, etc.
These features aren’t always easy to find. At least, they aren’t often located where you’d like them to be, but you have to take what a property gives you. Sometimes you’ll end up with pretty marginal stand locations that don’t have a lot of deer activity. But you’re better off starting in these locations than looking for the best sign on the property where you have the highest level of activity, hang a treestand, and push deer out.
Sure, you might jump right into that spot, get lucky and kill a good one right away. Or, you could risk burning out the spot for days, weeks or months. Educating deer occurs quickly, even exponentially with multiple screwups.
You can’t hunt deer in their highest activity areas for long without them knowing they’re being hunted. That’s the biggest mistake most deer hunters make.
So, when conducting your post-season scouting this year, consider a more conservative hunting strategy and scout accordingly. Work backward, find low-profile entry and exit routes first and then find the best possible stands along those routes.