Boots on the Ground
If you’re like me you’ve been getting antsy ever since hunting season has ended. Hopefully you have been satisfying the itch by doing some cyber scouting and maybe, if you’re really motivated, you have already started knocking on some doors to secure shed hunting permission or better yet, bowhunting permission.
Sometimes, due to the logistical problems of schedules, distance and time in general, it is hard to set foot on some of the properties we want to hunt in the fall. But, in short, right now is the most important time for your whole hunting year. This is when plans are made and promising areas are located. Although some experienced hunters can look at a Topo or and Aerial and go into a parcel “blind” and set up at the right spot, I feel it is almost always preferable to put the boots to the ground and verify your hunches during the late winter and early spring when there is no need to fear spooking the buck you are trying to hunt. Its also a lot easier to get around the woods without all the vegetation of late summer, not to mention the bugs.
One of the most rewarding things in hunting, aside from connecting on a mature whitetail, is getting confirmation that the hunches you developed during your cyber scouting sessions panned out to be true. This Winter I had a chance to put myself to the test on a fairly sizable piece of public swamp. I previously wrote about narrowing the property down by eliminating much of from consideration and focusing on high percentage areas. Not all of my areas of interest wound up containing deer sign, but much of what I believed to be true about the deer movement on the property was confirmed.
Although I was a bit unprepared for the depth of the swamp and need to go back with hip waders, I did find some promising sign off of the points of timber protruding into the swamp. These peninsula points and several pinch points were some of the main places I wanted to investigate, and while I wasn’t able to make it to some of the small islands in the swamp just off of those points, the fact that I found trails entering the swamp in the direction of these points coupled, with several good rubs nearby, leads me to believe I am very much on the right track to locating the buck bedding in this area.
One of the other areas that excited me was a prospective rut funnel on this parcel. Some large trees that showed up on the aerial made me believe that there was a small portion of high ground running through the swamp for about 50 yards, which served to connect two larger pieces of timber (one with a destination food source beyond it). When I got to this location it was even better than I suspected. The woods necked down to only 10 yards wide with deep swamp water on either side of the high ground and the amount of deer travel through this area over the years has created a furrow in the soft ground.
Additionally, there is another thin funnel connecting a third piece of high ground to the other two and there is a good chance that any bucks cruising for early estrous does will naturally walk this path of least resistance. A North wind will give the opportunity to set up in close proximity of the convergence of all the trails and this should offer a productive sit with all-day movement once the time is right.
Needless to say, I am excited about the potential this area holds for both early season bowhunting and the rut. While these are spots I would key in on even if I were going in blind and hunting the first time I set foot on the property, putting boots on the ground allowed me to confirm some of my suspicions, select some stand locations and pinpoint where other hunters’ stands where in order to avoid those areas and not waste a hunt come Fall.
Are you finding some promising areas for next year? I would love to hear about your post season scouting successes in the comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org