As the nights get cooler and the summer wears on, the thoughts of sportsmen and women start turning toward the fall hunting seasons and of all the animals we’re lucky enough to chase, the whitetail deer reigns supreme. Finding a target buck now will give you a head start when the season rolls around. Bachelor groups of velvet antlered bucks are more visible now than any other time of year. Here’s some tips to take to the whitetail woods to get a head start on this fall’s hunting season.
Find the Food
The number one key to finding whitetail bucks in the summer is food. Deer food, that is. If there are soybeans in the your area, use binoculars or a spotting scope to monitor feeding deer. Radio collared whitetails have been shown to travel up to five miles in a night to get to these delicious legumes. Another advantage of glassing soybean fields is that the plants’ low profile gives a great view of feeding deer and (hopefully) their ample headgear.
If there’s no soybeans in your area, key in on freshly cut hay and alfalfa fields. Whatever food source you decide to cover, focus on out of the way corners where deer feel safe.
Keep Your Distance
The goal of summer scouting is to find bucks to hunt, not scare them away. Monitor food sources from as far away as possible by getting to the top of a nearby hill or setting up an observation stand or blind.
Stay out of the feeding areas as much as possible to avoid leaving deer spooking human scent behind. Finding the deer is step one, but it won’t do you any good if you scare them off your hunting property.
Use Good Glass
A quality pair of binoculars and/or spotting scope will help you see what type of bucks you have to hunt this fall. High end optics gather more light and allow you to glass longer into the evening when the really big bucks come out to feed.
Hit the Road
One great way to observe deer without spooking them is to scout from your vehicle. Deer are used to seeing cars and trucks on roadways and sometimes even on farm lanes. As long as you stay inside they might let you drive right by for an up close look.
Establish Mineral Sites
Deer antlers are made up of a number of minerals, but the main components are calcium and phosphorus and deer’s summertime diet of lush greenery causes them to crave salt.
Hunters can use this to their advantage while improving the health of their deer herd by establishing mineral sites. Use a commercial deer mineral or mix your own and place a trail camera over the site to get tons of pictures of late summer bucks.
As deer season approaches, focus your scouting sessions on your target buck(s). Make a note of where they enter and exit food sources, what time they arrive and leave, and how consistent their movements are.
Early season bucks are more predictable than at any other time of the season. When opening day arrives, sneak in and set up your ambush to take down an early season buck…then spend the rest of the fall bird hunting.