When it comes to scouting, without question, my favorite style is long-distance glassing. The problem I have with that is that my definition of long-distance can shorten up in a hurry if there is a particular field corner I want to watch and the only way to do it is to camo up and slip to within 100 yards of where the bucks should be. This, as you can imagine, is a great way to spook summertime deer if you’re not very, very careful.
I’m not always very, very careful, so…
The other problem I have with long-range glassing is that when I have the chance to go, I’m going. I like it too much to skip it, and that means I’m going to put more of my presence out there in the world of the whitetail and cross my fingers. Despite doing this for 25 years, I can still bring amateur hour to the woods without hardly any effort.
And then there are trail cameras. When I’ve got cameras in the woods, soaking away and doing the scouting for me, I want to check them every chance I can. And just like someone who is in denial of a far more serious addiction, I’ll find any excuse in the book to go out into the woods and get my SD card fix.
And I know I’m not alone. Just like when you come out of the buck-fever closet and admit you simply can’t keep your shit together when a big buck walks in and it’s time to shoot him, summertime scouting addictions are prevalent. They don’t have to destroy your hunting life though, you just need to find a balance and stick to some rules.
Pass On The Glass
I’m a firm believer that long-distance glassing is extremely valuable when done right. It’s right up there with winter scouting, and can give you a look into a buck’s habits the way no other strategy can - not even trail cameras. The reality of it all, however, is you’ve got to plan your glassing sessions. Sometimes you can get lucky and park a mile from a field and watch it without fear of spooking bucks, but in many situations, that’s not possible.
Use your satellite imagery to plan your entrance and exit routes, camo up and play the wind. Also, even though you might plan to glass for a few hours until all of the light has faded, if the local bachelors start feeding too close you might need to slip into the standing corn and get out. This is the hardest thing for me to do because when they get closer I can see them better and quite frankly, it’s pretty cool. The downside to this is that every step they in my direction increases the odds that they’ll get a whiff of the camouflage lump at the edge of the field and decide they are done feeding in daylight.
If the wind isn’t right for your glassing setup, go somewhere else or skip it. Sometimes you just can’t make it happen, just like when it comes to an actual hunt. Having the discipline to know when you might do more damage than good is a big step toward becoming a better hunter. Practice it this summer as we tick ever closer to opening day and you’ll likely have a more productive early season.
One More Camera Check Won’t Hurt
I spend a good portion of my fall hunting public land in various states for short-duration hunts. During my travels, I often run into like-minded individuals trying to tag out within a four- to six-day span as well. Almost every one of them will have at least one trail camera with them. Trust me when I say this, that’s not enough time to do any good with a camera. And in fact, it will likely only cause you harm when it comes to strategizing your sits.
Back at home, with more time and more cameras, it’s easier to let them sit for longer. But even then, I really believe a fair amount of us check them too often. This is especially true when the season creeps within a few weeks and we know it won’t be long before we are in a tree. Now, if you’re capable of waiting until a rainstorm blows in to go check your cameras every time, you might get away with frequent visits.
For the rest of us, that’s not in the cards and not a reliable strategy anyway. To avoid going in too often, I make myself leave my cameras for at least a month and sometimes longer. It’s sort of like investing in individual equities. If you do your research and buy stock in a company, you don’t want to check the daily price swings because that will only mess with your head and could prompt you to make the wrong move like selling way too early. Instead, trust in your research and give the investment time to grow. With cameras, that time might be a month or two, but it’s enough to let the deer relax and walk by naturally. It’s also enough time to capture movement during various conditions and to allow food sources and weather to change - all of which gives you more clues into true, natural deer movement.