Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whitetail Deer Season Prep Starts Now: June

© 2009 Albert A Rasch
Scouting for Whitetail

Last month I started scouting for sign of the wily whitetails here in the suburbs of Lakewood Ranch. They are around; the trick is actually seeing them in the flesh.

Image Credit: Caranx Latus
Whitetail doe

Hand in hand with that I have been going hat in hand to the landowners that I have found, and tried to get permission to bow hunt this coming fall. So far I'm at zero luck. But not to fear my faithful readers, I have only met up with about 50% of the people I'm looking for.

I've narrowed my search to a few promising spots. I must admit though, that I haven't seen a single live deer yet. Fortunately I have seen sign, some of it fresh enough to be only a couple of hours old. Now how did I determine that? Easy, it rained but good the previous night, and I was out early. The prints were still sharp and damp. I haven’t found any sheds though, which I think is to be expected in this area. Antlers tend to be small and the terrain filled with tall grass and low growing shrubs and palmettos. Find any might require the same kind of luck you need for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Scouting in the summer can really take its toll on you. It’s been hot, some days in the low nineties. The sun will bake the moisture right out of you. Make sure you take it easy, carry water, and let someone know exactly where you are heading. I haven’t bumped into those ornery little pygmy rattlers yet, but the black racers are all over the place. I’ve tried to go out early to see if I could bump into some deer that might be out feeding, but other than a few unfriendly armadillos, no luck yet.

I have several trees that look like they are in good spots, with game trails within 25 yards. Two in particular seem to me to have the most potential. They are relatively straight, strong, and tall enough to put me at least twenty feet in the air. I’m a big fan of altitude. I figure deer have been shot at so often from 10 or twelve feet that they have figured out where most stands sit, so a few more feet may give me an edge. I’ve checked for clear lanes of fire in all directions, though I expect deer to travel in the quadrant to my front. But deer being deer, they might come in from any direction. So I trimmed a few limbs and cleared some brush.

I also made some stakes and placed several 15 and 25 yards markers to help me judge distances when the time comes to draw my bow. I bring a small (but heavy) 100’ steel tape to measure with, a few 16 penny nails, and a hammer head to hammer with. When I am done with the tape, I wiggle the nail back and forth until it comes free.

I've been using my Browning Compound bow to get my muscles back into shape. I'll be switching to a primitive bow later this summer, but for the time being the compound is my exercise machine. It is very important that you take the time to keep your muscles and your skill in shape throughout the summer. Shooting bows requires a multitude of decisions being made by your mind for your body to follow through on. Much like shooting firearms the more you practice, the more subconscious your control is. This allows you to focus on the most important aspects, your aim and release.

Right now, when I draw, I concentrate on a smooth clean draw without any hesitation. I also work on a consistent anchor point, and a relaxed grip on the bow. Later on when I feel a bit stronger, I’ll start shooting arrows into a target, but for the time being all I am trying to accomplish are strength gains and a good form.

Next month I'll probably have my spot picked out and set up. Then no more visits until opening day. Until then I'll be working out, refining my technique, and wringing out any new gear.

Now a couple of questions for you:

Does anyone else do any summertime scouting?
What do you look for?
How do you prep for the season?
When do you start trying out new gear?

The Hunt Continues...


Michael Spinelli said...


I have to admit, I'm pretty bad about getting in shape and practiceing year round. We tend to go upstate (NY) and hunt in the same places we hunt year after year.

Most of my buds, and myself, are hitting the surf now doing a some fishing!

Mike S.

Sigboy said...

I will start watching for deer movement in late August. If I am hunting a new area I will start earlier so that I can get a feel for the land, finding all thise natural choke points that deer like to use.

Caleb Pearce said...

For me I am always scouting for a new spot and deer sine. It gives me an excuse to go out and walk in the woods even wen the snow was up to my chest.

What do I look for I look for any bit of sine left by the deer, and for physical elements that might effect how the deer will react. Like a valley will most likely funnel the deer thru it. Rivers and streams effect how they react also. even downed trees will effect how they will come thru the area. Also keep in mind where they are bedding and feeding, and the path they take.

I practice shooting all year round. after the season thou I will set the poundage on the bow down to about 55lb., so I don't rune my mussels by doing the high volume shooting I do in the off season. and about now I will start to slowly increase the poundage on my bow back up to 70lb. by the opening of the season. I also go thru all my gear and make shore that it is all in good working order.

As of trying out new gear, I think it is fun to try out my new toy as soon as I get it home if the wether and succumb stance allow.

Great idea to pull your bow back and not firing to build up your strength and form. to many people go and pull back a bow that is to strong for them and shoot with bad form because of that and they will build up a muscle memory and will shoot that way for now on, until they spend a long time doing what you are doing right now to brake the habit. Its like someone that goes and buys a rifle that is to big and develops a flinch.

Rick Kratzke said...

Albert, I for some reason have completely missed quite a few posts from blogs. I don't know what happened, I just saw this post.

Does anyone else do any summertime scouting?
answer: Yes, I actually scout all year long.

What do you look for?
answer: I look for tracks, trails, droppings and what they have been browsing on.

How do you prep for the season?
answer: only gun hunt know but i would have to say I try to go to the gun range as much as my schedule will allow. I periodically will go through all my gear and check and recheck.

When do you start trying out new gear?
answer: I never stop. As soon as I find something new I try it out.

Most who really really know me joke because I am so obsessed with deer and deer hunting that I usually fit a comment about deer in just about every conversation I get involved in.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Albert, find some nice recession priced land near you that I can buy for song and I'll grant you exclusive hunting rights (except for my occasional use, of course ;)

Bion said...

In Florida, like you are, I forget the summer scouting trips...the heat will put a "whopping" on you! Went out to pick a bucket of blackberries yesterday in the early morning, and after three pints worth, I met the wall and the bear on the other side...and that's only until 9:30, while the heat is still at low ebb...

I usually sling a .22 mag on my back in case I see a coyote...but my scouting in summer is limited to the final checks when the mast is dropping in Sept. when the bow season opens..If you don't know the areas to hunt by now, you might want to wail until the cooler season gives you the energy to stay awhile. Usually, everything changes for the deer as the food sources change..and unless you want to find bedding areas, you might as well stay home and clean your rifle. And leave those bedding areas alone, or they won't come back...
Now, fishing is another story....gimme some more time on the stock my freezer with fish, before the hunting season opens and I forget fishing...

Doug O said...

It seems the summer always gets away from me.

I am new to your blog, but I think I recognize the language of your tag line. Indeed "how, where, or what they may!"

tom said...

I got an early early season deer on accident not scouting or he got me. I now know where one deer lived. Young buck objected to my shaking the cobwebs out of the old 280ZX I decided to burn the old gas out of and such. Dang thing hit me in the driver's side fender well behind the bumper.

Suicide mission? Is Al Queda now recruiting young impressionable whitetail? Was mid afternoon on a hot day in Texas. After appropriate phone calls to authorities were made, it dressed out to about 60lbs of freezer meat and put me one step further away from a restored 280ZX. :-(

Willing to trade excess 6.5 Swede brass for 1981 280ZX driver's side front fender...