For many of us, hunting is not something we do for one week or one month a year, it is what we look forward to each year that sort of defines how we conduct ourselves the rest of the year. Every time we drive down a back road or go for a hiking expedition in the state forest we are thinking of the time we are going to be out hunting for our favorite type of big game. For this time of year, we are daydreaming of the time when our plan comes together and we are actually successful. As we spend this time daydreaming or thinking about it, a plan is hatched on how we are going to accomplish it. Perhaps the best way to put this plan into motion is by scouting our hunting area so we are not guessing when that opening day finally arrives.
While walking into your hunting area will give you an idea or two about where you want to hunt and how, if you take your scouting trips seriously, it could possibly tell you a whole lot more. I treat my scouting trips more and more like a hunting trip each time out during the year so that I can learn such things as travel patterns, food sources, favorite trails, etc. To be truly effective doing this without changing their patterns requires me to be constantly aware of my scent, the commotion I make, and how close I get to my quarry. Instead of my focus being on getting close to the game like it is during hunting season, my focus is on staying back and observing the game without being detected.
Optics can play a vital role in your scouting as they allow you to get close to your quarry without physically trampling through their trails and bedding areas. A quality spotting scope is one item that can help to accomplish this. By finding a good vantage point and setting up your spotting scope on a tripod you can spend hours observing wildlife without being detected. It is also good to take along a small notepad to take notes on what you observe. You never know when you may notice something significant such as escape trails or how a buck may use the road less traveled to skirt an open field. Depending on when you observe this movement, you may forget about it later when you need that information most.
Another way to make a record would be through the use of a trail camera. With the time stamp and date on every picture you will be able to observe how patterns change as well as the old mossy horn that you had yet to see with your other scouting. Placing your cameras can get tricky because you really have to be careful not to spread your scent around too much in your area, or it could change the games movement.
With the use of optics, scent blockers, and common sense, your scouting trips will quickly become a vital ingredient in each and every hunting adventure you have. Knowing your area and the game within it, is just as important as knowing how to hunt. The best thing about scouting trips is it helps to appease your desire during the off season to be out in the woods hunting.
Bob Darrah, hunting and outdoor enthusiast. For a great selection of spotting scopes and other hunting gear, visit www.huntingforoptics.com
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