Today we launch the next segment of our feature film Awaken The Hunter Within – Part Four ( scouting for a deer hunt ). If you haven’t yet seen Parts I, II or III you can watch them here. We will release the three remaining parts of the film every Friday over the next three weeks so you can follow the journey of Becca, Pierce and Alex as they explore the world of hunting. If you’d like instant access to all seven parts of the film right now just complete the form below and we’ll send you an all-access pass. There’s no cost for the pass and you’ll be able to watch the entire film for the next 72 hours.

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Scouting For A Deer Hunt

Transcript of Awaken The Hunter Within Part Four:

00:03 [Mark:] We’re here at the location where you’re going to do your first deer hunt and I’m really excited for you to get out in the woods and do some scouting. My friend Ryan is going to come join you today. He’s a biologist and it has a lot of experience hunting. He’s going to give you some guidance on how to really read the woods and understand animal behavior and a good place to put your ground blind. And here comes Ryan.

00:34 [Ryan:] Hey Mark.

00:36 [Mark:] Good to see you. This is Alex, Becca, Alex and Pierce. So Ryan’s been looking at the maps and I think he’s figured out some spots that might have good potential. Why don’t we show you the areas on the map and then you guys can get out in the woods.

00:52 [Alex:] Awesome. Great. Sounds good.

00:54 I think for a lot of people, scouting can kind of be intimidating. One of the best ways to kind of break it down is to start with a map to begin with. And what you want to do is try to eliminate as much ground as possible before you even go out to the site. There’s a lot of areas on the map that have some kind of open areas or water. You’re not going to find deer out there, so the biggest thing you want to do is try to key in on some bottlenecks or funnels that we call them.

01:19 Basically, it’s just an area that really pinches the deer traffic down into a smaller area. So you can see for this one, and this zone that we’re hunting… there’s kind of a wooded corridor that kinda goes right through here. It’s got open ground on each side. So one of the best spots to be would be one of these little pinch points along the way. See it kind of really narrows down here. If you’re within that spot there, you can see a deer that’s walking through, no problem.

01:44 So the other thing you need to think about then is the wind direction. So once you get to one of these spots on the ground, typically the winds are coming from the northwest here. So if you can set up on the southeast side, you can make sure that there’s no deer that are going to smell you when you’re out there. The other thing is once you’re out walking around, I mean you have to wait and actually confirm if there’s deer sign there. So that’s kinda the next step.

02:20 We’ve got some tracks going along the trail here. Here’s a pretty good one. I mean obviously it was pretty muddy here. They really sank in so you can see right here, the points are kind of facing this way. That means that their hooves….so it was walking this direction. Generally if you just find the front two tracks like that, it’s probably just gonna be a doe or a fawn. They’ll be about that size. When you start to see two little kinda dewclaw marks in the back, especially if it’s a lot bigger track like that you know it’s a buck.

02:54 See with this bed here, it’s not, it’s not a huge bed. You know we saw one further back that was a lot bigger. So a lot of times if you can find a cluster of beds like this it’s usually a doe or a fawn or a couple of does, a couple of fawns. Um, throughout the year they’ve pretty much banned together as a group. So what you’ll see is it’s just matted down. If you look at the existing other grass around, you can see us really pushed down. Sometimes you’ll find chunks of hair or even some scat that are kind of laying nearby, but usually this is what you’re looking for. Um, if you find a bed that’s a lot bigger than this, it’s a pretty good oval and it’s further away from all the other beds. That’s usually a buck because they tend to hang out by themselves for the most part. Especially during this time of the year.

(Part Four – Scouting For A Deer Hunt)

03:39 They’re pretty solitary animals.

03:41 [Alex:] Now do these influence where you want to put your blind? If you find a really concentrated bedding area where you know, there’s a lot of does, you can set up near one of them, not close enough that you’re going to spook them, but close enough that if a buck comes by, you know he’s going to be downwind checking it. Or if you’re just looking for meat, you know, and you just want to take a doe and then that’s also a good option to set up near one of these because they’ll usually go there during the day.

04:11 You know deer, obviously they need water like any animal. So during the spring and summer they actually get most of their water needs from the foods they eat. The really lush green plants. But in the fall, as everything starts to dry out, the food sources get to be just the browse; the twigs that they’re eating. They start to need water a little more. So you’ll often find along, especially small little creeks like this, little streams…that there will usually be one little trail like this that really concentrates the deer traffic. You know, they could jump across anywhere along here. But um, once they kind of find a path of least resistance elsewhere, that kind of cuts up this way and here they’ll really stick to it. So if you can find a spot like this that’s cut up with the hooves…you can see it’s just churned over; that’s a good spot to kind of key in on because they know that they’re moving through here pretty regularly. So you can see here’s a scrape that deer will kind of use their hooves and scratch away everything. And actually here’s a rub on the tree right next to it here. So as they use their antlers and scrape away all the bark from the tree.

05:18 [Alex:] That’s pretty fresh.

05:19 [Ryan:] Yea, it looks very fresh. Yeah.

05:20 [Becca:] What’s the purpose exactly for them to be scraping it with their…?

(Part Four – Scouting For A Deer Hunt)

05:24 [Ryan:] Early in the fall, um, as the daylight kind of shrinks, it’s called the photo period. As that shrinks, the testosterone levels in bucks really skyrockets. So they start rubbing trees mostly to get rid of the velvet that’s on their antlers. This time of year they’re mostly using it as kind of like a sign post, a territorial marker. They’ll use it to kind of strengthen their neck as their sparring against these trees basically.

05:48 [Becca:] And removing the velvet off of their antlers. Why? What is it?

05:53 So during the summer, the velvet is basically the growing tissue. It helps provide all the blood and the nutrients that actually fuels the bone growth. And then as the fall comes on and it starts to trigger that it gets kinda itchy so they’ll start to scratch it away and that’s when they polish the antler, so it’s just the bone. So yeah, it’s pretty crazy, right?

06:14 [Ryan:] So we’re not too far away from where we found that rub and the scrape. It’s just kind of just over this hill here. But (if) you’ll notice that whole area was really open and here it transitions to really heavy buckthorn. It’s a lot thicker. You can see there’s a trail kind of cutting right through here. So they are definitely walking right through this thick stuff and avoiding some of the open area. I think it’d be a good spot to set up a blind kind of right here on this existing structure here. And uh, you know, as they come out of here, they’re not going to really see it at all. You’ve got enough natural backdrop right there. I think this can be a good spot.

07:03 [Ryan:] It’s been fun to come out here and look at everything with you guys.

07:06 So, good luck.

Awaken The Hunter Within Part Four – Scouting For A Deer Hunt

Posted by Mark

Mark Norquist is Publisher and Editor of Modern Carnivore. He's spent a good part of his life outdoors. He has a passion for hunting, fishing, foraging and eating healthy food.