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2201 SW 152nd Street, Suite #3
Burien, WA 98166
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Hunter’s Handbook is the official student “how-to” information pipeline of the International Hunter Education Association. As the experts in teaching safe, ethical and successful hunting, we are here to provide tips, tools, and great video content as well as offer you a place that you can learn more about your love and favorite past-time—hunting.  Spend some time with us.  New content is added monthly, and we are excited to share our expertise with you.  We wish you a lifetime of safe and memorable experiences in the outdoors.

Summer Scouting Secrets

Summer Scouting Secrets

With autumn just around the corner, it’s time to start taking steps to ensure a successful season.

 

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

Increasing your odds of a successful hunt this fall begins right now. Whether you’re hoping to limit out on ducks on opening day or trying to bag a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail buck, a little pre-season planning can go a long way toward helping you achieve your goals. Here’s how.

Find the game—even when they aren’t there: Summer is a prime time to scout for any game, but don’t get hung up on actually seeing animals. In many cases (as with migrating waterfowl or big game animals that move into their wintering grounds late in the season) the game that you’re looking for may not actually be there during this time of year. That’s fine, because there are still plenty of tell-tale signs that the spot you’ve found will hold game during the fall. How you scout depends upon the behavior of the game that you are pursuing. Some species like rabbits, squirrels, and even whitetail deer have relatively small home ranges that the animals will remain in throughout their lives. In those cases pinpointing animals within those home ranges will help you know that they are probably in the vicinity on opening day of hunting season. This is why trail cameras are so essential for hunting game like whitetail deer; they allow you to identify individual animals that are within your hunting area. New technology has also helped advance scouting opportunities as well. Leupold’s new LTO Tracker uses thermal technology to scout in complete darkness, monitoring movement patterns that a stationary pattern alone could not detect. It’s important to check local laws and regulations regarding thermal cameras for scouting, but where legal they offer a superb advantage for summer scouting.

For migratory animals that won’t appear until the fall, you’ll need to identify habitat and food sources that these animals are likely to use during that time of year. For example, as ducks begin to move south during their annual migration, they would look for bodies of water that they can use as resting places, and the type of habitat depends on the species. In our home hunting area there are a series of shallow marshes that provide both habitat and food for migrating teal. There might not be a bunch of birds there now but it’s a safe bet that as the birds move south they’ll use this marsh as a stopover point on the journey. Likewise, late season hunts in the mountains generally push big game down below the snow line. Instead of looking for elk and mule deer in their higher-elevation summering grounds, take the time to identify food sources like grasses and woody trees that the animals rely on at lower elevations during the winter. Regardless of the season, the migrating animals generally leave behind signs that they were there in the form of tracks, trails, feathers, scat and more.

Summer Scouting Secrets

With autumn just around the corner, it’s time to start taking steps to ensure a successful season.

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

Increasing your odds of a successful hunt this fall begins right now. Whether you’re hoping to limit out on ducks on opening day or trying to bag a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail buck, a little pre-season planning can go a long way toward helping you achieve your goals. Here’s how.

Find the game—even when they aren’t there: Summer is a prime time to scout for any game, but don’t get hung up on actually seeing animals. In many cases (as with migrating waterfowl or big game animals that move into their wintering grounds late in the season) the game that you’re looking for may not actually be there during this time of year. That’s fine, because there are still plenty of tell-tale signs that the spot you’ve found will hold game during the fall. How you scout depends upon the behavior of the game that you are pursuing. Some species like rabbits, squirrels, and even whitetail deer have relatively small home ranges that the animals will remain in throughout their lives. In those cases pinpointing animals within those home ranges will help you know that they are probably in the vicinity on opening day of hunting season. This is why trail cameras are so essential for hunting game like whitetail deer; they allow you to identify individual animals that are within your hunting area. New technology has also helped advance scouting opportunities as well. Leupold’s new LTO Tracker uses thermal technology to scout in complete darkness, monitoring movement patterns that a stationary pattern alone could not detect. It’s important to check local laws and regulations regarding thermal cameras for scouting, but where legal they offer a superb advantage for summer scouting.

For migratory animals that won’t appear until the fall, you’ll need to identify habitat and food sources that these animals are likely to use during that time of year. For example, as ducks begin to move south during their annual migration, they would look for bodies of water that they can use as resting places, and the type of habitat depends on the species. In our home hunting area there are a series of shallow marshes that provide both habitat and food for migrating teal. There might not be a bunch of birds there now but it’s a safe bet that as the birds move south they’ll use this marsh as a stopover point on the journey. Likewise, late season hunts in the mountains generally push big game down below the snow line. Instead of looking for elk and mule deer in their higher-elevation summering grounds, take the time to identify food sources like grasses and woody trees that the animals rely on at lower elevations during the winter. Regardless of the season, the migrating animals generally leave behind signs that they were there in the form of tracks, trails, feathers, scat and more.

Great glass is key: Whether you’re looking for animals or simply signs that animals have been in the area, having good optics for your summer scouting sessions may be as important as having the right optic on your rifle in the fall. Glassing allows you to examine more ground and look for animals that you might have missed otherwise, so I don’t ever head afield without my optics. If you’re planning on scouting in country that is made up of steep ravines and large canyons, a good spotting scope is very important. Excellent options include Leupold’s SX-1 Ventana or the Dialyt and Conquest Gavia from Zeiss. But even in dense woods a light pair of binos like the lightweight and affordable Rebel binoculars from Redfield or Zeiss’s ultracompact Terra ED Pocket binoculars make sense. The more intel you can gather in the summer, the better prepared you’ll be to hunt in the fall.

Combine trips: I like to accomplish as much as possible on my summer hunting trips, so I may use these opportunities to clear brush for shooting lanes or hang my tree stands. Not only does this pre-season planning help reduce the number of times you’ll have to disturb the area, but it also helps better prepare you for shots you may encounter later in the season. How so? When I hang a treestand I will climb up into the stand and spend a little time scouting from my hunting position (while wearing a safety harness from a brand like Hunter Safety System, of course). The purpose of this is to help me familiarize myself with the area immediately surrounding my treestand and to help me begin to formulate a plan for the fall. Will the game be traveling to and from feeding and bedding areas past my stand, and if so, which route are they most likely to take? Will I have a shot at those animals from my current position? Which direction will the wind be moving my scent? You may not think that scouting out these key features of the landscape are important, but prior to hunting season you will want to be sure that you are familiar with the area in which you will be hunting, and spending a little time in a new stand will help you anticipate your shot presentation for the fall.

Being able to get to and from the field quickly and efficiently also helps. The more ground that you can cover on your scouting missions, the more likely you are to gather intel that helps you develop a plan for success in the fall, and that means that motorized off-road vehicles—where legal—are a great benefit. ATV technology has made these machines quieter, more reliable and more maneuverable. The new Yamaha Grizzly EPS comes with a sophisticated engine design that has been specifically developed to accommodate off-road driving in rough conditions, making it a great choice for pre-season scouting in more remote areas. Regardless of where you hunt, having the ability to get deeper into country where game is likely to be found ups your odds of success this year.