John's Journal...

Keys to Successful Precision Scouting for Deer

Day 2: Key-in on Food Sources to Locate More Deer

Editor’s Note: A successful deer hunt is knowing where the deer will be, and when they’ll be there and getting into a good position to take the animal. If the wind changes, someone else takes the deer or some unforeseen event occurs to prevent you from bagging a deer, then that’s just hunter’s luck, which can happen to anyone at anytime. No matter how much of an expert you are, how much you know about deer or what type of terrain you hunt, fate always can deal you a hand that makes you unsuccessful. To be a consistently successful deer hunter, be in a place when and where deer show-up most often. Learning the keys to precision scouting is critical to success in finding such a spot.

Click for Larger ViewDetermining what a deer’s key food sources are and how to find them are other ingredients for successful scouting. Although this statement also sounds like a very-basic element of scouting, because it seems so basic bowhunters underestimate just how complicated locating the right food source can be. Click for Larger ViewDeer are browsers that eat a variety of food, including over 600 species of plants like English ivy and hostas. The food deer prefer often can change on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of that food and the deer’s need for that food. For instance, in the South where I hunt most of the time, the white oak acorn is the deer’s favorite food. But if you pinpoint an area with 100-white oak trees on 2,000 acres of land, the deer will be so dispersed that you may find it a difficult place to set-up to take a buck. Also, if because of droughts or floods the white oaks don’t produce acorns, then you need to learn what else the deer will eat.

Click for Larger ViewOne of the best ways to find out what the deer’s preferred foods are where you plan to hunt is to talk to a wildlife biologist in that area. Ask him for recommendations for the deer’s top-five food sources during the time of year you plan to hunt. Also, ask what the deer will feed on after the number-one food source is gone. The most-reliable food source to hunt around is a particular food that’s highly preferred and in short supply. So, in the South, if there’s one white oak tree on 2,000 acres that’s bearing lots of nuts during the deer season, hunting around that one tree may be very productive. Click for Larger ViewIf you’re hunting over food, make sure the stand site where you plan to hunt is not the only one where there’s enough food on the ground for deer to continue to feed there.

To learn more about successfully hunting deer, purchase John E. Phillips’ books, “The Masters’ Secrets of Hunting Deer,” “The Science of Deer Hunting,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer” at

Tomorrow: Choose the Most-Productive Deer Trails to Hunt

Check back each day this week for more about "Keys to Successful Precision Scouting for Deer "

Day 1: Identify Good Hunting Grounds by Using Topo Maps, Aerial Photographs and Google Maps
Day 2: Key-in on Food Sources to Locate More Deer
Day 3: Choose the Most-Productive Deer Trails to Hunt
Day 4: Locate Deer Sanctuaries
Day 5: Select a Number of Stand Sites with Favorable Winds to Have More Opportunities to Take Deer

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Entry 630, Day 2