News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Valley Hunter

February 18, 2006

Valley Hunting: Now is perfect time to figure out perfect ambush point for next bow season

How nice would it be to have a map showing the exact travel routes, bedding areas, and feeding areas of the local deer herd? That map is available; it’s just a matter of bundling up and hiking through the woods.

One of the most important preparations for deer season is to scout hunting grounds during the late winter/early spring. For some hunters, it makes little sense to prepare for a season six months from now or expect deer to have the same travel and feeding patterns during the hunting season. From my experience, however, now is the perfect time to figure out that perfect ambush point for next bow season.

Unless there has been a major change in the deer’s habitat or there is an intrusive hunter during the season, deer will stick to the same pattern in October that they have now. Deer are creatures of habit, and what they do now is what they will do in the fall.

There are two big reasons why I scout for deer now and not in August. One is the visibility of sign. In the winter, travel routes look like interstate highways, bedding sites look like craters, and droppings pop out like early spring flowers. However, in the summer, deer sign is hidden in the foliage and greenery of the woods. Now is the perfect time to find the travel routes, and staging sites between bedding areas and food plots. During this time, I even plan where I’ll place my stand, cut down shooting lanes, and figure out entry routes into the woods.

The second reason I like scouting in the winter is because I have no fear of spooking deer. Any deer that is jumped now will have no recollection of the incident by next fall. Now is the time to nose around and find a buck’s core area, the thick and brushy out-of-the-way hideout that mature bucks prefer. Any buck that sees me now will have forgotten about it this fall when I will have slipped in and placed my stand on the travel route between its core area and its feeding range, or where the does will be. Finding an ambush point and a quiet path to slip in and out of the woods is much easier now than blundering about the same woods in August and ruining my chances of setting up on that same trophy buck.

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