From IMB Monster Bucks

[IMB] Editor’s Note: Sportsmen across Alabama know Don Taylor of Birmingham, Alabama, as an avid deer and turkey hunter, and Dr. Bob Sheppard of Carrollton, Alabama, as a bowhunting instructor. Bob Zaiglin, a wildlife biologist from Texas, has done extensive research in managing and hunting trophy white-tailed deer and is a nationally-recognized expert for his rattling and calling techniques. These three longtime outdoorsmen know the importance of Scouting for deer after the season.

Learning About the Deer and Their Habitat and Trying New Hunting Tactics

As Don Taylor recalls, “One year, all season, I’d hunted a trophy 10-point that fooled me three times the previous year. I was confident at the beginning of the season that I had a trophy buck to hunt, something few hunters would know about the property where they’re hunting. I was able to deliberately lay out strategies for taking the trophy deer, but each time I saw the deer, it darted into thick cover before I could get off a shot. However, at least I had had the experience of hunting a trophy. Once the season and the intense hunting pressure ended, I went back into the woods to see if I could find where the trophy deer had been hiding. As I walked along a route I thought the buck had traveled, I suddenly discovered him—or at least what was left of him—about 50 yards into the thicket. The deer had either been shot or had fought with another deer and lost, because his massive antlers lay in a heap on the edge of his decaying carcass. Perhaps someone on the adjoining property line had shot the deer and didn’t know he had hit the animal or had failed to follow up his shot. No matter what the reason, I knew my trophy buck was gone. I also realized I’d have to search diligently the next year to try and locate an animal in his class to hunt.

“One of the biggest advantages to post-season scouting is it gives you an idea of the deer you’ll be able to hunt in the upcoming season. If you know where a trophy buck is, post-season scouting often will tell you whether the deer has made it through another season. Even if you don’t spot the deer, you may find his shed antlers. Also you may see a trophy on your property after deer season is over. Because deer learn to retreat from hunting pressure, often two to three weeks after the season is over, deer will come out of their hideouts. They realize the danger from hunters is gone. By scouting after the season, you’ll be more likely to see where the deer have been hiding throughout hunting season and whether the animals are still on the land you hunt.

“Scouting after the season also informs you of the amount of browse damage, which helps dictate whether or not you need to provide more food for the deer for the coming season. If the honeysuckle patches and greenbriar patches are eaten down, then you know the deer have just about exhausted all available food. You may need to plant more greenfields and/or fertilize the existing briar patches and honeysuckle patches. Adding fertilizer to natural wild plants will increase their ability to produce foliage and grow bigger, which also increases the amount of available food for deer. If the greenfields are eaten down almost to the ground, the deer must have more food to get through the winter. However, if the greenfields are still lush in February and March, then you can assume enough food has been present to carry the deer through the winter. Because most of the foliage is gone from the trees and bushes in the late winter after deer season, the hunter has an ideal opportunity to scout thick cover and out-of-the-way places that may have been difficult or almost impossible to get to in the early part of deer season. Moving into once-heavy cover to cut shooting lanes for the next season is easier before the spring green-up, and while the weather is still cool.

“One of the most-difficult tasks a sportsman has to perform is to test different techniques of hunting during the season. Most of us prefer to go with proven tactics when our chances are good for bagging a buck. However, during the off-season, an outdoorsman can scout and locate deer. Then he can enter the woods with rattling horns, deer calls, scents and lures and test the effectiveness of these hunting methods while the rut is still happening. Also, he can study rutting behavior and learn how both bucks and does interact during the rut. He can use his camera to hunt instead of his gun.”

Read the rest of the article at IMB Monster Bucks

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