It’s easy to lose track of time and before you know it, hunting season is here and you’re scrambling to figure out where to hunt. We have a few tips that can help you maximize your time in a pinch and also help you scout for future seasons.
Scout from Home
There are many resources that help you scout from the comfort of your own home before you even hit the road to physically scout the property you are looking to hunt. Garmin BaseCamp is a free program created by Garmin which allows you to organize your maps, photos and waypoints into a “digital diary” that keeps track of where you’ve been and when. Whether you're scouting from home via Google Earth, using detailed Garmin 24k TOPO or HuntView maps paired with a Garmin handheld GPS, or another resource provided for by the state you are hunting in, there are plenty of ways to compile enough information that will not only save you time scouting in the field, but also increase your chances at harvesting the buck of a lifetime.
Use your handheld GPS to mark waypoints of potential game trails to check out. If you’re trying to break down an entire section, it can take a ton of time if you don’t do your homework beforehand. Cross-reference from previous years using Google Earth to see if you can find the same game trails year-after-year. Garmin offers BirdsEye Satellite Imagery for all of its handhelds to make it easier for you to find the same game trail on your device. Don’t forget that deer are creatures of habit, just like we are. If they can, deer will take the path of least resistance every time, just like we will.
If it’s your first time hunting an area or if you haven’t had much success at your tried and true spot over the last several years, here’s a tip for potentially stumbling upon a big buck. Try comparing public land maps from the previous year to this year’s map. New land is either leased or acquired by the state every year and not many people will look to see the subtle changes that could pay off for you in a huge way.
How will you enter and exit your stand quietly without alerting wildlife or other hunters to your whereabouts (unless it’s for your own safety)? A lot of this will come with experience, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent spooking wildlife. Wear quiet, scent-free clothing and make sure you get in there before the deer wake up and before other hunters arrive. Whatever you do, don’t give up your secret spot by hanging flagging tape in the area you’re hunting. That’s what waypoints are for!
Figure out where other hunters might be entering. Knowing that can help you utilize hunting pressure to your advantage, as they can push deer towards you. It will also give you an indication as to the chances of another hunter walking right up on your stand and spooking the deer you’re after.
Be efficient with your time and pay attention to little details that may be more important than you realize. Piece them together to help you figure out a story, so to speak, of what the deer are doing. Putting together a pattern in hunting is just like putting a pattern together in fishing.It’s one in the same.
Mark waypoints in your GPS of potential locations to hang your treestands and make notes on each waypoint, whether it be in your mind or on paper – whatever works best for you. Always take into consideration what the wind could potentially do, so don’t limit yourself to hanging just one stand, because if you only have a few days to hunt, the wind might cripple your chances for success.
Don’t Overlook Land Boundaries and Thick Cover
Hunt the thickest cover you can find – places that nobody will want to go, because you can bet that the biggest, oldest, wisest deer will head there to get away from hunting pressure – especially after the rut.
Deer have a general sense of areas that are pressured during hunting season. They catch on quickly and will often head to neighboring private land for refuge. Deer will pattern human behavior just like we try to pattern theirs. Try setting up your stands near land boundaries to potentially catch some of these deer crossing over, because they don’t have the luxury of having Garmin HuntView mapping with public/private land boundaries like you might. Some states even compile files that you can download to your Garmin handheld GPS units, which might include public/walk-in land data and boundaries.
We hope these tips will help you increase your chances for success this fall and many more to come. For more exciting and informative hunting and fishing content, follow Garmin Fish & Hunt on social media. Don’t forget to share your fishing and hunting photos with us using #FishGarmin and #HuntGarmin for a chance to be featured on our channel!