Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 56

DURING the winter months deer are often are found in small herds as they focus on the shrinking food sources. Winter scouting is one of the easiest ways to locate feeding areas, deer trails and bedding areas, all information that can be used in determining stand location for next year’s bow season.

most critical information for locating new hunting territory, as well as identifying new and productive sections within your present hunting area. Let’s take an in-depth look at why scouting during this time of year is important, and how you can use it to pinpoint the most productive stand locations for the next season. Mention scouting for bow season and most hunters think of September. Deer can be seen feeding leisurely in farmers’ fields in early evening, and after dark the back roads are normally jammed with a parade of cars armed with spotlights searching for the biggest bucks in the area. While a lot of deer can normally be spotted in September, things will change rapidly during the next few weeks as field crops are harvested, mast crops drop, hunting pressure increases and the rut kicks in. Deer will quickly disappear from those open areas and shift into deeper cover, altering their patterns to fit the changing food sources and increased hunting pressure. All of these changes leave hunters in stands that seemed good at the beginning of the season, but are now dead as a door nail. It’s time to change stands and find new locations, but with the thick cover and heavy foliage that exist during most of the fall season, scouting for a new location can not only be difficult but at times downright impossible, and a waste of valuable hunting time. Bowhunting is a close range affair with most shots taken less than 25 yards and the average being around 17. Unlike hunting with a firearm, where seeing a legal deer
56	

P.J. Reilly

often means a shot, bowhunting success depends upon location, location, location. To constantly get within bow range, it’s critical to not only have your stand in the right place in regard to deer movement and travel, but also positioned to put you within the effective range. There are two ways to make that happen, one is dumb luck and the other is an in-depth knowledge of the ground you are hunting. While luck works occasionally, knowledge guarantees constant success, and that is where winter scouting plays a major role. The late archery and muzzleloading deer seasons wind down by the middle of January, and hunters are gone from the woods. Deer are returning to their normal routine and are settling in to survive the winter months. Foliage is all but gone and visibility is at its maximum. Now is the perfect time to learn the lay of the land, location of deer trails and bedding areas, as well as the location of scrapes and rubs. While some of those bucks that made those rubs and scrapes have been harvested, I’ve learned that the same areas are used by deer year after year unless something drastic impacts the area, such as timbering or new construction. Let’s assume that you plotted the existing deer movement on a specific piece of property and then removed all of the deer and replaced them with deer from another
GAME	 NEWS



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 1
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB1
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover3
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