Hunting an area I've never been before
In my last post, I shared some tips on how I digitally scout a hunting area using contour maps. The biggest benefit to this practice is the ability to reduce the amount of area that you would need to scout on foot. White tail bucks tend to only sleep in areas where they have protection and advantage to smell and see their surroundings, so it helps to find those areas on a map first.
I woke up at 3AM the next morning to drive out to Pennsylvania in an attempt to search for these elusive white tail bucks but the moment I arrived at the parking lot, I immediately realized that the plan was already in the trash can.
Plan does not go well
The immediate forest beyond the walking trail is filled with what is called an "interior forest" which is a portion of the forest that is covered with thick bushes that comprised of thorny vines. Needless to say, the interior forest is largely impenetrable without a machete and something to stomp down the thorny bushes (both of which I do not own). But this is also where a white tail deer's thick hair and hide can effortlessly jump through, so there must be deer hiding in here. It's a good sign for presence of bucks but largely un-huntable without tremendous efforts to enter the interior forest.
This is the interior forest
Bucks have no trouble prancing right on though this thicket of thorns, if they needed to escape danger
The scouting areas that I previously marked up were inaccessible so I had to switch to plan B, which was looking for open game trails created by deer that commonly travel in this area. That meant I had to walk along the man made path and keep my eyes wide open for thing openings in the tickets, about 1' wide. To my benefit, the sun was rising and the path was easily visible.
As I slowly crept along the trail, I began to notice the signs of deer, many in fact. There were droppings, recently eaten mast crops and tracks. Along my travel, I accidentally bumped 3 deer who were bedding behind fallen trees and large rocks which gave them physical cover. All of the deer were on right side of the trail, which meant they had the wind against their backs. I think that the sloped areas that I was attempting to hunt were to difficult to get to, even for the deer and especially if there is minimal hunting pressure (its not gun season yet).
Fresh rubs and fresh trails
The greatest part of my scouting trip was the following image. I bumped a deer hiding behind a tree and then walked around his "bedroom" and saw fresh droppings and an abundance of rubs, which are indicative to buck behavior during the rut (their mating season).
Rubs are a means of marking territory for bucks. They use their antlers and rub the tree to remove the bark, signifying their presence and dominance in the area. It definitely means that there is a buck calling this spot his bedroom. Unfortunately, gun season starts on Monday which means that this buck is likely to get shot if it doesn't realize whats up. I still get a crack at him in the late bow season which begins Dec 26 to Jan 26. Hopefully this buck is still alive then or there are other bucks in the area that have retreated deeper into the interior forest.