June 01, 2016
By Tony J. Peterson
Conventional summer scouting wisdom suggests mounting a tripod to your truck window and driving around to find bachelor groups. For some hunters, this is a fine method. For others, not so much. It all depends on your hunting situation.
My situation pretty much dictates that glassing from my truck will result in very little useful information.
For starters, I hunt several properties that are small and not visible from any roads. The properties I do have permission to hunt, which are also conducive to some glassing from roads, are not exclusive to me by any means.
Other hunters spend time there as well, and guess what? They also drive those same roads trying to catch glimpses of bucks in the back corners of fields.
I'd much rather get out of my truck and sneak into prime glassing points. The best bucks I find each summer know the drill, and are not likely to spend daylight time visible from any roads. They like those food sources and ponds that are hard to get to, where they don't get bothered.
It's that simple, and analogous to hunting in general — work a little harder than your competition and reap the benefits.
Following are six tips to help you spot the summer bucks others miss.
It's common to look at an agricultural field and view it as relatively flat. Many places of the country do feature flat fields, but even on those that resemble a table-top, there are often slight depressions in the terrain. Folds in the field that can hide a buck only need to be about five or six feet in difference from the rest of the ground, and that doesn't take nearly as much as you'd think.
I routinely find bachelor groups
feeding in otherwise empty looking fields simply because they tend to gravitate toward low spots where they aren't visible.
Those depressed bucks that go low to get invisible also demand a close approach. Instead of sitting 500 yards away and watching them from a lawn chair, it's necessary to bring a cushion and crawl in close. These sessions are higher risk, but higher reward and necessitate a fair amount of planning.
The upside is that you'll get the best look at summer bucks you can ask for, and put yourself in a better situation to take notes on the nuances of their travel and behavior. From 500 yards they often just appear, at 100 yards you'll know exactly which trail they came from. That knowledge is invaluable when it comes to stand and ground blind placement
Play. The. Wind. Always.
Those same summer does and unexpected bucks will not tolerate a snootful of human stink, and while it's easy to get careless this time of year you should always be mindful of wind direction
. If the wind is wrong for your glassing spot, don't go.
It can be hard to say no when you know you're likely to get a glimpse of a velvet-racked stud
, but resist the urge. A certain percentage of the bucks you watch in the summer will be there come fall, and you don't want to put them on alert any more than you have to — because those are all of the potential contenders to where your tag.
Summer scouting conjures images of vibrant green alfalfa fields and red-coated bucks lazily chomping. But those same bucks get thirsty, and while watching the buffet is always a good idea, don't forget the water. Bucks often hit water first before feeding in the evening, and that can give you a better idea of where they spent the day bedded down.
A single glassing session last summer in southern Minnesota
led me to watch a pond versus the surrounding fields, and the bucks I saw there clued me into movement I had previously ignored. Six days into the season I had a freezer full of fresh venison and 135 inches of antler going to the taxidermist. Watch water sources whenever you can.
Sunrise Versus Sunset
I know an awful lot of hunters who say hunting mornings in the early season is a waste of time. This attitude also pretty much negates any benefit from glassing in the mornings. I'm of a slightly different attitude and that is, if I get the chance to scout or hunt, that's what I'm going to do. Saying you can't kill mature bucks in the mornings during early season because they'll all bed before daylight is a great excuse to sleep in — even if it's not even close to the truth.
Some bucks will bed early, sure, but all of them? Hogwash. Seeing those bucks at daybreak as they make their way into the cover is some of the best information a hunter can have. You won't see as many bucks on morning scouting forays as in the evening, but the clues provided by the ones you do see can lead to great things.
Take It Seriously
Camo up at the very least when you go scouting
. It may not make much difference when the deer are half of a mile away, but what about the buck that is bedding in the corn and pops out at 75 yards? If you're not blending into the fields, you're in trouble and that deer will bust you.
The same thing goes for all of those does that occupy summer spots well away from the best later-in-the-season cover. They avoid bugs, catch a nice breeze, and just might snort and blow until an entire field is empty if they catch sight of you being lazy.