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Give Scouting the Cold Shoulder

The 2017 deer season has ended. It was a long and grueling affair. You’ve spent countless hours on the stand this past year. Maybe it was a banner year, maybe it left much to be desired


Time to move on to predator hunting? Ice fishing? Just kick back, relax and recharge a bit knowing the 2018 season is 10 months away? Yes to all of these and the many other options that are open to outdoors men and women during the winter months. But still at the top of your list should be getting ready for the 2018 right now.


January through early spring are some of the most critical months to get out into the woods to kick off your next deer hunting season. The time you put in now can put you leaps and bounds ahead as opposed to waiting for late summer/early fall. The following are key variables that I focus on, especially with State Land hunting. Even if you hunt private, much of the same can be applied.


Man Hunt

Most hunters likely will have left sign from the previous season. That can consist of tree stands, pop up blinds, ground blinds made from debris, and unfortunately trash.


When hunting State Land, one of the most critical factors to finding a good area where deer won’t feel as much pressure is figuring out where the hunters were and likely will be again. Come late summer through the fall, you should keep wandering on your areas to a minimum. But now is the time to start canvasing the property in more detail. This is when you get a better idea of who else may be hunting in the area and where. I rarely see stands removed during the season or even just after the season is complete. Seems most people are content to either leave their stands up until March 1 (which is the legal last date to have stands left on state land without considered being abandoned property) or unfortunately all year round.


If you’re looking over a new area, this is a first indicator of how good it’s going to be. If it’s loaded with stands, you should likely move on until you find areas that don’t show that sign. I have a couple of properties already established as my focused hunting areas, and if you have this nailed down, this is when you find out if anyone else has moved into your area or where around the fringes they