Here in Ontario, bow season for deer is less than two months away. In the time between, there are plenty of things to do, not the least of which is scouting.
If you are like me, you've probably already seen a few nice bucks in velvet in your hunting area and have a general idea of what this year's deer numbers are looking like. Now, for me at least, it's time to get a little more specific.
One principle that's important is that scouting shouldn't be disruptive. You don't want to be leaving your scent all over your hunting grounds so that your deer act unnaturally or avoid the area.
That's where trail cameras come in.
Today, I'll be putting out my trail cameras in the core area of my hunting grounds and revisiting them in a week to change SD cards. I'm hoping to get three pieces of vital information.
First is a more accurate idea of the number of deer using the area, and secondly I want to get a sense of the buck to doe ratio. Lastly, I'd like to know if one of the bigger bucks I saw earlier this month is frequenting that area.
I'll leave my cameras there for a week and then quickly change locations until I have a good sense of the deer herd in the hunt area. Preferably, I'll make these visits to camera locations when it is raining so my scent gets minimized.
As I get closer to the season, I'll also place cameras on the more well-used trails leading out of bedding areas and one on the main feeding area, which where I live is an old cut filled with berries, lush forbs and crab apples.
This sort of pre-season scouting reinforces confidence in the area and helps you fine tune stand locations for opening day. It also helps me decide which shot opportunities to take and which to pass up on — if I know a nice buck is in the area, I'm probably going to pass up on does or lesser animals for the first few hunts at least. But if he shows up on the first day, I won't let him pass, if I know he's boss of the woods.
Trail cameras are one of the best scouting tools out there for all bowhunters. Now is the time to start putting them to work again.