Lesson No. 5: Post-Season Scouting

posted on December 14, 2009

Most of the country’s big-game seasons are winding down or are closed by now. If you did not get enough hunting in this year, the closure may mean some frustration; if you got enough hunting in, you’re probably looking forward to being able to sleep in a bit. In any case it’s not too early to start scouting for next year.

Scouting might not be the best term here. More accurately, it is a lot like taking inventory. Which bucks survived the hunting season? How many are “up-and-comers,” and are there some new faces—racks—in the crowd? Of the ones that survived, do any of them look to have been injured during the rut, and do those injuries pose a threat to their winter survival? All of this is good information to have as you evaluate and plan your hunts for next year.

A buddy and I went out last week in the evening to check an area where an outstanding mule deer buck was seen and hunted this season. We didn’t see him this time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was killed. In fact, we’re pretty sure he made through the season because he’s such an outstanding buck we would have likely heard about his demise if it occurred. However, we did see a darn good whitetail buck chasing a doe, and we’ve put that info into our mental file for next year.

On my place I deliberately did not shoot a buck this year. There were three mature whitetail bucks frequenting my property throughout the summer and fall. These bucks are no more than 3 1/2 years old; two are eight-pointers and the other a promising ten-pointer (eastern count). I want to give them another year or two and see what the genetic potential is for these deer. One of the eights is MIA, but he could have been run off during their two-week party in November.

Winter is a great opportunity to evaluate the bucks in your area or to explore some new lands for hunting. Deer and elk are on winter range—a western term; “yarded up” is the term often used in the east—and more accessible for observation. Just be sure that you observe them from a distance and resist the urge to get “just a little closer.” The animals are stressed from the rut and the winter, and you don’t want to further stress them to the point that their survival is in jeopardy.


Model 1895 Guide Gun
Model 1895 Guide Gun

Ruger Reintroduces the Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun

Ruger has announced the reintroduction of the Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun. Formerly known as an “1895 GBL” (Guide Big Loop), this model is Ruger’s first reintroduction in the Guide Gun family of rifles and Ruger’s first introduction of an alloy steel Marlin rifle with a blued finish.

Henry Repeating Arms Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Limited Edition Rifles

Henry Repeating Arms has announced two limited-edition models celebrating the company's twenty-fifth anniversary. Available at dealers nationwide while supplies last, the rifles pay tribute to the beginnings of Henry Repeating Arms as a company and the origins of the lever action rifle's enduring legacy in America.

Tips for Hunting Pre-Rut Mule Deer

Just before the breeding season bucks make seemingly random decisions, forcing us to analyze their habitat’s food, water and cover and how each factor influences their behavior.

#SundayGunday: Winchester SX4 Left Hand Waterfowl Hunter

Get a closer look at the Winchester SX4 Left Hand Waterfowl Hunter, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Recipe: Venison Top Sirloin and Chimichurri Sauce

A recent trip to Hawaii inspired contributor Brad Fenson to create a chimichurri sauce variation, where cilantro, cumin and lime juice produce a new twist on the traditional blend.

DIY Skull Cleaning on the Road

Awareness of chronic wasting disease has spread across the country and today includes regulations regarding the transport of ungulate skulls taken by traveling hunters. Follow these suggestions to clean your skulls while on the road to avoid running afoul of any game laws.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.