Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
    (Berks County)
    Posts
    3,797
    Rep Power
    15013496

    Default How do I start scouting?

    Iím becoming a little overwhelmed by the whole thing to be honest with you. I think now would be as good a time as any to start heading out into the state game lands around me and getting the lay of the land and seeing what theyíre like.

    Please donít laugh when I ask these questions. I assume I can take the map off of the the game commission website find an entry point and just start walking around and seeing what is what? People are going to be out there hunting turkey and then getting all pissed off at me? I can just go out there with a backpack and some water in my notebook and start figuring out where dear may or may not be.? Then in the fall I just go back to the same spot set up camp and start? Do people ever just go out there without scouting it all and have any success? I guess I want to at least know where people are parking and seeing a little bit what the land this like I donít want to go and blindly but not really sure how successful I am finding signs and perfect spot to hunt :-) Iíve so much to learn.

    What might be some good places to look I mean as far as signs or things like that. Considering Iím on a state game land itís probably a mix of wooded and open areas. Do most people just drive up on the access road or whatever it is parked their car and then just head in a little bit? I assume I donít want to go into far because if I have success then I have to drag it all the way out which becomes a pain in the butt. It looks like around me thereís multiple access points for these places so I would guess the one that is least on the main road in most maybe dirt road or whatever would be best?


    I hope this fall to maybe get out with the person or two that Iíve met through the boards here you all know who you are and honestly still looking for whatever you wanna call it a hunting buddy whatever it would boil down to just someone who might be able to help me out at the start.
    Gunowner99 - NRA Benefactor Life Member

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
    (Huntingdon County)
    Posts
    160
    Rep Power
    4805991

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    It will help to familiarize yourself with the land. Keep an eye out for food/water sources. Look for game trails and scat. Just remember there is no such thing as the perfect hunting spot. Take your time while walking through the woods, teach yourself to look for movement. Once you have found a spot where you know the deer have been come back another day and sit for a few hours. I've had the most luck in the early morning. Good luck!
    Because Failure Is Not An Option

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
    Age
    68
    Posts
    3,624
    Rep Power
    18407150

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Get into the woods.
    Start walking. Look for trails. They generally are the paths deer take between bedding areas and food source.
    Basing an answer also depends on your physical shape.
    How well you can travel, walk and possibly drag an animal.
    I think most hunters generally travel into the woods maybe a half mile, perhaps a bit more.
    If I hunted SGL, I would find a food source maybe a mile in and find trails heading to it.
    Get in early on opening day. I like to be at my spot at least an hour before daybreak.
    Being further in than many other hunters might have deer push to you as they enter later.
    Understand that your best laid plans may be compromised depending on hunting pressure around you.
    If the area you choose has a large number of hunters, the deer may be moving a lot.
    Look for heavy cover. Thick cover. Many times deer will go toward the areas less people are going to go in.
    I have been on my hands and knees crawling into thick pockets of briers when all I could see is orange around me. There are trails, escape routes in the thick areas.
    I try to position myself off trails as far as I can comfortably have some sort of shooting lane(s).
    If you can find areas that the deer funnel through, narrow patches of woods between larger wooded areas, that may give you an edge to seeing deer running away from hunters.

    I don't shoot at running deer. I've wounded a few early on.in my hunting years and found that tracking is harder than waiting for a shot that you know provides a likely, ethical kill.
    Scout throughout the year.. The diet may change as different food sources mature..Squirrel hunting may let you see deer and give you an.idea of where the are before that season.

    Good luck
    The pipe never wins. I always win.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Tier, Pennsylvania
    (McKean County)
    Age
    50
    Posts
    6,997
    Rep Power
    21474854

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Pretty sure it's been mentioned, but it's worth repeating.

    You don't (and won't) need to learn every conceivable aspect of hunting in one summer. It's not possible, so just set reasonable goals, expect no return other then personal enjoyment, and go for it. You're just going to stress out over things that you have almost zero control over.

    I would avoid annoying Turkey hunters, so head out on Sundays. I have known plenty of people that barely scout, and hardly walk 1/4 mile into the woods, and have been moderately successful, others that have had hardly any success. Hunting is 90% luck regardless of how much effort is put forth. The only difference is how often you want to hit that mark, and that largely depends on what type of person you are.

    If you want to scout and get away from a lot of hunters, you will need to get at least a half mile in. Further if the land is easy walking and there are easily accessible trails.

    This is what I would do if I were relatively new, and hunting SGL's

    Take advantage of the early seasons! Even if it means not getting out much during firearms season. It's a huge opportunity for hunters, and especially novice hunters when deer are more predictable. If you do nothing else, take this to the bank!
    Walk in about 20 minutes.
    Look for heavy cover. Most hunters have this fantasy of a clear 200yd shot with no one else in sight and act accordingly. The deer have other ideas.
    Alternately look for a natural funnel. Preferably leading into heavy cover.
    Don't concern yourself with food. It gets complicated, deer change their feeding habits by hunting season, and everyone else is looking at the same oak tree.
    Find a spot where you can squeak in a 50-70yd shot.
    If you can bring a climbing tree stand and use it, all the better.
    Be prepared to sit all day and see nothing. That's hunting. deal with it.
    Don't worry about gun shots and what everyone else is doing. Most of them don't know shit.
    Don't be the guy that gets antsy, and moves every couple hours, or needs to go get lunch and a beer at noon. Be the guy that scores the deer from the other people doing it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Douglassville, Pennsylvania
    (Berks County)
    Posts
    1,368
    Rep Power
    21474843

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    What are you hunting with? If you want you can come bait them here then just plug the bastards out the window up the other end of the house. Their a nuisance here and their numbers are high.
    If at first you don't succeed try a different angle.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    POCONO MOUNTAINS, PENNSYLVANIA, Pennsylvania
    (Monroe County)
    Age
    67
    Posts
    2,441
    Rep Power
    19984888

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Buy yourself a Compass ! Easy to learn to use it and will save your butt in every instance if properley used.I never go into the woods without it even if familiar with area,if you have to track a deer you can and will get disoriented !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Ephrata, Pennsylvania
    (Lancaster County)
    Posts
    398
    Rep Power
    7135253

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Be aware that spring turkey hunters are currently in the woods. You wont make any new friends if you bust their setup.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
    (Berks County)
    Posts
    3,797
    Rep Power
    15013496

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Walleye Hunter View Post
    What are you hunting with? If you want you can come bait them here then just plug the bastards out the window up the other end of the house. Their a nuisance here and their numbers are high.
    Ha ha if it were only that easy!!
    Gunowner99 - NRA Benefactor Life Member

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
    (Berks County)
    Posts
    3,797
    Rep Power
    15013496

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Okay, I wont learn everything this year indeed, sage advice but some that I need to keep in mind and not get frustrated.

    Keep the ideas coming but I am seeing a pattern here as far as funnels, concealment, food, trails, deer pushed to me, escape routes. I plan on hunting the ground and maybe a blind, we will see. I want to learn so bad and you all are being extremely helpful, thanks!

    I do plan on getting out bow so that is early and maybe less crowded. Gives me time to learn and has less pressure. Rifle would be great but I fear others shooting me ha ha! Seems like that would be amateur hour even though I am a beginner I can see that!

    The one comment, "Don't worry about gun shots and what everyone else is doing. Most of them don't know shit." Is this true at least a little? I feel like I will be the guy screwing everyone else with my newness. My biggest fear is pissing off other hunters, taking some sort of sacred spot or breaking some etiquette.

    Huntstand or onX Hunt help at all?
    Last edited by Gunowner99; May 1st, 2018 at 12:09 PM.
    Gunowner99 - NRA Benefactor Life Member

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Levittown, Pennsylvania
    (Bucks County)
    Age
    63
    Posts
    660
    Rep Power
    1296891

    Default Re: How do I start scouting?

    Study the PGC game land maps for your area and then get out there and find the parking areas shown. Most have a well established trail or an old log road leading into the woods. Walk in some and head off into the woods a little and find a place to sit. Be quiet and mostly still for the ten to fifteen minutes it takes to restore the tear you just made in the woods time and space continuum and watch the woods come back alive, birds move, wood peckers start banging way squirrels tearing through the leaves sound like a heard of deer...enjoy.

    Rinse and repeat and keep notes where and how you see deer.

    Get comfortable with a few spots and start to expand that as you go along.

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