If I told you that there was one singular thing that you could do to fill that coveted deer or elk tag in your pocket, would you do it? My guess is that you would – in a heartbeat. Well, there is one thing you can do and it won’t shock you to know that it is getting boots on the ground. Yup, an old-fashioned scouting trip will do more for you than any other in-season preparation you can do.
About 20 years ago the digital era was just starting and a paper map and compass were the standard navigation tools in just about every pack. In our modern era we now have access to cellular service in many wilderness areas and where you don’t, there is always the GPS option. So what does this have to do with boots on the ground scouting? Well, everything nowadays.
Years ago we used to pick a point on a map and then go scout it. My formula was:
-Look for areas devoid of trails
-Look for the strips of green that indicated good bedding cover for deer
-The rougher the terrain the better
This strategy produced a few good animals and lots of encounters. With the advent of Google Earth my hunting buddies and I can now pre-scout an area from the comfort of our own home. We can get an idea of how good an area will be for glassing without taking the time to drive the trailhead, spend four hours hiking and then trying to locate the best glassing locations. With this new technology we can plan exactly where want to hunt before we ever get there.
This is especially helpful when you only have a couple of days to scout. Pick your location, mark your ideal glassing locations, hit the road and you have hopefully saved yourself tons of time by heading to a productive location. However, Google Earth doesn’t always tell the truth on just how steep or big some country may or may not be. Don’t get rid of that paper map with the elevation lines showing just how steep that prime time piece of the high country is. Make sure the basin you are planning to hunt is actually accessible. Nothing is worse than wasting your only day to scout.
In the August/September issue of Eastmans’ Hunting Journal Mike Eastman, Guy Eastman and Dan Pickar go over all of their preferred map reading methods and the best ways to use them to capitalize on your hunt. Make sure your subscription is current, you won’t want to miss this issue.