Being prepared when it comes to hunting cannot be overstated. Everyone has their opinion on how much preparation is necessary, but the more preparation you do, the higher your chances are of being successful.
One thing I like about scouting the woods right when the snow melts is how fresh the rubs and scrapes look. This can five you a great insight on how the deer are moving through the property. This time of year allows you to explore with a fine tooth comb and hopefully find where that target buck is bedding. Don't get too caught up on "Don't kick the buck." Hunting season is far away and you will not be tromping around every weekend.
This is especially helpful when you acquire a new property to hunt. Even on a small plot fo land, travel patterns can be determined and a plan can be implemented. I have a small 12 acre parcel of woods that I hunt and I thought it was too small to truly scout it. The patterns change from year to year and I now make sure I'm on top of it.
I usually make two spring scouting trips. One is for finding scrapes and rubs in order to find patterns. The other is to shed hunt. I try not to combine these trips so that my focus is on one task. Multitasking can be great, especially if your property is far away. The problem with multitasking these two scouting trips is that you will miss things. Stay focused and stay keyed into what your purpose is.
It can be hard mentally to think what you are doing is worth it. I struggle finding time to scout in the spring. With small children it almost seems like I am wasting time. Once I actually have the date planned and I make it to the property, I realize how beneficial this experience can be. It feels so refreshing and keeps that fire inside of me going.
Even while scouting in the spring I take scent control serious. I still wash my clothes in scent free laundry detergent and spray myself before heading out into the woods. My philosophy is that it cannot hurt anything. You will hear different opinions on everything when it comes to hunting. Do not get too complacent about the little things. Stay mentally strong and it will pay off in the end.
Early spring will get you out of the house and back in the mindset of deer hunting. Shake off the winter rust and get outside and enjoy nature. Take your kids if they are old enough. My son is four years old and will be sitting in a box blind with me this winter and I plan for him to start scouting with me next spring. Bring someone who has never hunted and maybe they will get intrigued. Make it a point to get out there in early spring and do not find yourself making excuses.
Matt Hemry - DHS Team