November 04, 2010
Any time you bowhunt a new area, don't make the mistake of hunting immediately. Scout first. For example, I recently went after mule deer in a place I had never been before. I was tempted to immediately pound the hills, bow in hand, but I knew better. So I spent the first three days driving roads, glassing early and late, and snooping for fresh tracks in promising habitat. I saw a smattering of deer, but no large concentrations.
Then my scouting paid off big on the third evening out when I found a canyon with more bucks than all the other places combined. Two days after that, I stalked and shot a nice 6x6 after passing up two dozen smaller males. If I had not scouted first, I would have spent the entire 10-day trip in a second-rate spot with a reduced chance of taking an animal.
Here is a good rule of thumb: In a new area, devote at least the first 25 percent of your trip to scouting. Don't try to fill your tag immediately -- cover lots of ground first to locate a high-odds place to hunt. Find the hotspot first, and then pursue the animals. You will realize far more success in the long run.