Rather than sitting around thinking about next season, scanning through social media, or scouring the internet for the latest best crossbow review, get back out in the field!
This time of year it’s cold, wet, and windy. But, if you have the time and ability to put some miles on your boots, it is a critical time to be in the woods scouting.
With minimal foliage and the possibility of some snow on the ground, these months of late winter and early spring can be the absolute best time to learn more about your hunting property and how the deer are using it.
What to Look for When Scouting in February…
Any time there is snow on the ground is a perfect opportunity to learn where the deer prefer to walk. A trail that is heavily trodden by hoof prints is a telltale sign that deer prefer to use that travel route. Here is where you’ll likely want to have a stand, if you don’t already. The less visible trails that only seem to get minimal deer traffic, might look promising in the summer months, but tell a different story this time of year.
Furthermore, with the trails easily visible, you can follow them from point to point, which is likely going to be bedding to some sort of food source. If you know where the deer prefer to bed and where they like to eat, now you know two very key places that might be good for a hunting location.
Beds are particularly easy to spot in the snow. The warm bodies of deer melt the snow around them in a nice little oval. The great thing about this is that larger deer leave larger ovals, and those are typically the bucks. If you’ve found a bucks preferred bedding and feeding area, you’re now armed with a tremendous amount of information that can help you hunt that buck in the early and late seasons of 2022.
On the contrary, if you locate several beds clumped together and they only seem to be of average size deer, you might as well have hit the deer hunting lottery. You’ve stumbled upon a doe bedding area and you know what that means for the rut. Where there are does, there will definitely be bucks come November.
Scraping and Rubbing Lines
Another great sign to look for this time of year are scraping and rubbing lines. Often times the scrapes that bucks had been freshening up during the rut were made after the leaves had fallen. If you’re lucky, and the wind and snow hasn’t ruffled up the leaf litter in your woods, you’ll still be able to see these scrapes while scouting. Also be on the lookout for rubbed trees. They become much more easy to spot when there is no underbrush sprouting green leaves and buds to hide their presence. Now you have a good idea where a buck will be spending time in the pre rut, during the month of October and early November.