John's Journal...

Keys to Successful Precision Scouting for Deer

Day 3: Choose the Most-Productive Deer Trails to Hunt

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 ViewThere are good travel trails and also better travel trails that deer use at specific times of the day. Unless you determine which trail is the most productive to set your tree stand near at a certain time of day, you may be wasting your time. The most-productive travel trails are the ones with tracks going in both directions, which tell you that deer are coming from two-different directions along this specific travel trail, increasing your odds of bagging a buck there. Click for Larger ViewA trail with tracks in two directions is the kind you can expect to find in a funnel area where deer are constantly moving back and forth between two woodlots. A trail that leads from a feeding area to a bedding region may be best to hunt early in the morning where there’s high hunter pressure. If you set-up close to the bedding area, thinking that the deer will feed at night and return to bed-down just as daylight before the hunting pressure becomes heavy, you may be correct. However, this same trail may produce a deer closer to a feeding area in the morning, if you’re hunting a region that isn’t receiving a great deal of hunting pressure, and the deer are feeding during daylight hours instead of at night. Or, you may hunt this trail successfully in the late afternoon and anticipate that the deer will come-in to feed just at dark.

Click forLarger ViewFinding scrapes and rubs on these trails will tell you that there’s at least one buck in the area. Scientists have learned that bucks often mark their territories or let other bucks in the area know of their presence by rubbing the bark off small trees and bushes. Scrapes can be differentiated from rubs. A scrape is a pawed-up area of earth, usually under a low-hanging limb where a buck leaves the scent from his eyes and mouth. Click for Larger ViewThe buck urinates in the scrape to signal to does that he’s in the area, and he’ll return to the same place to search for them when they’re ready to be bred. A scrape also acts as a message center where several bucks in a region leave information for each other. During the rutting season, scrapes and rubs will pay-off in buck dividends for you.

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: Locate Deer Sanctuaries

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 3