As the saying goes: those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This is especially true when planning for the busy fall hunting season. To ensure success in the field, some hunters will start scouting as early as May. Not to worry if you haven’t had a chance to get out yet, it’s never too late to pack in some last minute scouting.
The first step to scouting land is to spend some time studying it. Either acquire maps, or use applications like Google Maps or Navionics to learn everything you can about the region. Look for potential food and water sources, bedding spots and other geographically significant areas.
Do not set foot on the land unless you know who it belongs to. Failing to do so could result in unpleasant fines or consequences. If you are unsure, most areas of the province have land ownership maps available through Canada Map Sales or RM offices. Once you have received permission to hunt on the land, and have spent some time studying the maps, it’s time to go for a walk.
Tip: when looking to gain permission from a private owner, make sure your timing is appropriate. No one likes to be disturbed during dinner or early on a weekend morning. And remember—be grateful: the sport relies on non-hunters getting involved, and word of a bad experience can travel fast.
The more time you spend getting to know the land you are going to be hunting on the better. Start by taking a walk through the area and observe your surroundings. What do you see, hear, smell? Look for food sources and animal droppings while familiarizing yourself with the surrounding habitat.
Tip: be sure to observe natural paths travelled while looking for signs of game.
Spotting a bear can be a thrilling part of any hunting adventure, but it can also make for an unpleasant scare. When in the wilderness, travel in a group if possible, and always keep your eyes peeled for bear droppings and signs of activity. Try not to sneak up on or startle any bears. Most attacks occur when the bear feels trapped or threatened, especially around cubs. If you are going to be camping, you can bear proof your site using these helpful tips.
Firearms and ammo aren’t the only shooting accessories hunters should be concerned with; taking pictures is a key part of the scouting process. The photos you shoot will give you a first glimpse of the wild game you are going to be hunting, while giving you a chance to observe their eating, drinking and sleeping habits. Set your cameras 4–5 feet high, and protect them with bear boxes if possible.
What if you could simply set up your trail cameras, then monitor all the activity from the comfort of home computer or mobile device? Thanks to cellular trail cameras, this has become a reality. Save time, fuel and energy that would have been otherwise spent travelling to check your SD cards. Also benefit from real-time, up-to-the-minute results. Though some hunters may still prefer to manually retrieve footage, these devices are definitely a game changer.
Battery operated electronics play a big role in game scouting. Pro tip—spend a bit extra for high-quality lithium batteries. As much as it might be tempting to save money on cheaper ones, nothing is worse than having a device you need die out in the field. Be sure to install new batteries in all of your devices before heading out. This will save you trouble in the long run, guaranteed.
When setting up trail cameras it’s important to eliminate human odors as much possible, or else wild game could avoid the location altogether. Use a variety of devices and outdoor personal hygiene products to ensure the camera does not contain any human scent. Your friends and loved ones might love the way you smell, but the slightest odour on a trail camera could be enough to scare off a prize whitetail.
As you’re setting up trail cameras, start scouting good trees and areas of brush to set up your tree stands or ground blinds. Look for mature trees with full canopies that will have less of a chance of swaying in the wind. You want to be high up enough that you are out of sight, but low to the ground enough to increases your chances of a good shot. For ground blinds, look for downed trees, or thick brush that will allow your blind to camouflage well with its surroundings.
One last tip: Be sure to spend some time with your optics, watching the area at sunrise or sundown. This will tell the tale of where you can expect animals to funnel through. Happy scouting!
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