For many hunters across the country the days of the good old “mystery hunt” are over. I remember a time when I used to set out on any given hunt having absolutely no idea what deer I might see – and if I’m being honest, I kind of miss those days. Anymore, we’ve got all of the tools at our disposal to seek out, find and set up our success – more so than we ever have. So let’s take a look at the top 3 pieces of intel that I rely on.
This is where it all starts. Any hunt I go on, no matter where it is, starts with a good look from the eye in the sky. You can learn so much. Read the layout, read the timber, read the travel routes, read the food sources…find the water, find the bedding, find the flow. Aerial maps are a wealth of information. Topography is definitely important, but don’t ignore things such as thermal cover, roads and other outside forces that restrict or encourage movement.
Aren’t they awesome? Trail cameras have truly changed the game. They give us an inside look at the world we’re hunting in when we aren’t there. Unlocking the tiny little secrets and the nuances we may not pick up on in just a sit or two. Build a pattern based on cameras over time and you can take it to the bank. Personally, I like to run my camera setups like this: start in the most likely spot to catch your intended target – call it a destination food source or a community scrape – then work your way backwards from there to unlock the mystery. So many times I talk with hunters that always worry about “where is he going from here”…It’ll prove worth your while to ask yourself the opposite – “what did he do to get here”.
Gas & Glass:
I’m a sucker for this method of gathering intel. I love to sit back and watch through my glass what’s happening before I ever step foot into a bucks core area. How do the does move? How do the younger bucks travel? Often times I can get this from an observation stand location – but I can also get it by jumping in the truck and setting up in a strategic area so I can overlook a much bigger area than I otherwise would be able to. Sacrificing a few sits to gain proper intel will give you much more confidence in your decision making when it comes to where you should sit and when…I promise. Do you think it’s by accident that received some of the best intel I’ve ever had in my entire life from the road-grader operator? Hint: it’s not.
Just like anything, there’s a million ways to skin a cat. If you follow this simple methodology : Start wide, slowly get narrower and finally move in, you’ll most likely find success. Don’t forget to play the wind…and if the wind isn’t quite right – well…gas & glass!