Planning Efficiency for Post-Season Scouting

Show Notes

In today's episode of the DIY Sportsman podcast, Garrett lays out a short and sweet planning method to help you scout efficiently as we get closer to early spring and prime-time for most post season scouting. It's key to remember what the main focus is for post-season scouting, what you can learn, but also what you can't. Then use the amount of available time combined with goals to methodically pre-plan routes and loops and adjust as necessary. It's an easier method to ensure you gather the most amount of good intel in the time you have available.

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] In today's episode of the podcast, I'm gonna lay out a short and sweet planning method to help you scout efficiently as we get closer to early spring and prime time for most of your post-season scouting, it'll be key to remember what the main focus is for post-season scouting. Not only what you can learn, but also what you can't to lay out a goal for each day and the season overall, and to really be methodical in that approach to ensure you gather the most amount of good intel in the time that you have a.

A quick reminder, as I had also mentioned in the intro to the last episode, I've started creating some content for the Hunt Better platform. I'm looking to have the main founder on in an upcoming episode to help explain more about what it is and why it exists. In the short term though, I am doing a live stream on Thursday, February 23rd, which should also be the day that this episode launches.

So if you're listening to this right away, you'll have a chance to still go and check that out and bring any questions you might want me to answer. I've also got a few detailed hunt breakdowns with detailed background information [00:01:00] and animated maps on the website as well. That can be

Before we get started, I have a quick message about the Spartan for app, which you can get a 20% discount on by using the code diy. The app allows you to do all of your standard mapping navigation in the field and waypoint management. You can currently choose from three different satellite. Topo and in many areas, aerial imagery at multiple time points throughout history, view public and private lands color code your permission status on those private lands.

View all of your forecasted and historical weather info. Add journaling entries for your hunts that automatically tag the weather conditions and wind for that time period. And view a deer movement prediction powered by machine learning based on colored deer studies across the country. I also have a walkthrough video posted on my YouTube channel that you can use to physically see the app in more.

And with that, let's dive back into the episode. All right, so in this episode I'm gonna go ahead and just summarize my general strategy for early spring scouting. And it's [00:02:00] certainly not, the best way or the only way, but it's a way that I've found to be pretty efficient and basically learning as much as I can with whatever time I have available.

And that could just be an overall amount of. , but also it could simply be the amount of time that you have to scout any given area, right? If you're casting a really wide net, maybe you're only allocating yourself a couple of days to scout a particularly big piece of land that you'd like to get some intel on.

So those are all based on choices you have to make. But this way allows me to at least be a little bit more methodical in my approach. and overall, I feel like it's been quite useful. So first thing first is to establish what the goal is, right? Really for early spring scouting, for me anyway, at least it's trying to take one of the least intrusive times of year to do some of the most intrusive types of scouting.

So really nothing, even betting areas would be off limits. Things that I wouldn't necessarily do and in season scouting, I would certainly do in post-season scouting. Really this is the opportunity to go ahead [00:03:00] and do that. So realize too that there are things that you can really do a good job of learning in this post-season scouting.

There's other things that are hard to learn in post-season scouting, and I've definitely fallen into the trap in years past of trying to put too much stock into post-season scouting and. Neglecting the in-season scouting, and I've definitely, over the years, developed more of a happy balance between the two.

But what you can definitely learn in post-season scouting is potential bedding locations. You can find potential food sources that are gonna be used throughout the year. You can certainly find RO sign, and you can take the opportunity to really try and pick some of the best trees to be able to hunt out of knowing that the foliage is gonna be down and the woods are gonna look very similar this time of year to what they might look like in say.

you can also to a certain extent, be able to learn on occasion what Bucks made it through the hunting season. And really the only way you'd be able to tell that is if, let's say you had really specific information about let's say [00:04:00] like a track that a certain deer was leaving, or if you have trail cameras out that time of year.

and you happen to get photos of a buck, after the seasons were over and he's still at his antlers, or you just happen to find his sheds. There's been a couple of deer where I have found their sheds. I'd say accidentally, because I don't often go out with the sole intention of looking for sheds.

But just by nature of finding some of those sheds have been able to at least figure out, hey, this deer made it through, the hunting season at a minimum. You're also gonna be able to learn where some of the hunting pressure occurs, especially if you've got guys who are either leaving tree stands or leaving trail cameras, leaving some kind of hunter sign in the woods, whether it's, trash or accidentally drop bow hook or something along those lines.

And you're gonna be able to really figure out a great lay of the land. You could really see a long ways with the foliage down and one of my favorite times of year to just kind. Sit down and take in what the landscape looks like. Imagine how the wind is gonna be moving through the terrain, how the thermals might act.

And depending on what wind directions you have, [00:05:00] you can get a little bit more detailed information. Even run some studies where you might be taking the time to see what the wind's doing, let's say on a certain hillside with a certain wind direction at a certain time of day. So you can get an idea for whether or not you can get away with hunting a certain spot.

Come. Now on the flip side, like I mentioned, you really can't learn everything in post-season scouting. And what I mean by that there's certainly gonna be a lack of knowledge on what the actual food sources might be. There's weather phenomenon, like you could have a, major drought over the summer.

You could have flooding, things that could affect what the actual food sources will look like during the upcoming hunting season. You're not really gonna have a great idea usually of what the a. Crop will be like, you can maybe estimate it based on what the prior years crops have been like, but you'll get a much better feel for that come late summer.

Other things, you won't really be able to do. A great job of learning during post-season. Scouting is gonna be, let's say, which deer made it all the way. Through to the hunting season. [00:06:00] Even if you find a deer sheds, you know that he made it through the hunting season. There's a lot of things that could happen between that time of year and the next September at least, of which that deer could be, hit by a car in the summer When he is in velvet, you're not gonna learn where all of the hunters hunt.

You're gonna find where the guys who leave the most obvious amount of hunter sign hunt. But there's a lot of guys that are doing the mobile hunting thing nowadays, and unless you get really good at. looking for marks on trees from climbing sticks or other climbing methods, or if guys are leaving trail cameras out.

There's a lot of guys that are bouncing around quite a bit, and it can be really hard to figure out where those guys are hunting just based on some of your post-season scouting. So certainly take in mind where you find other hunter sign, but just keep in mind also that you might not be getting the whole entire picture.

Some of that's better found during the season when you're actually able to keep tabs on people and where they're going. The other thing that I think it's a little bit more challenging to figure out in post-season scouting is early and very [00:07:00] late season hunting strategies. I'd say if you're a rut hunter, it can be one of the best times to do your scouting because that sign, once again, is so obvious, and generally the woods are gonna look very similar during the rut to what they would look like right now.

However, for early season of late season, if you got a bunch of snow on the ground or the flip side, early season, you got a bunch of foliage on the. It's gonna look a lot different. The patterns aren't gonna be quite the same, and when the deer are leaving the sign and all that foliage and all that tall grasses up, it's not gonna come through as obviously when you're doing that post-season scouting.

And you might be attempted to start the season and go into some of those areas that you remember having the most sign, but the deer might not be doing those exact patterns and. Early season, I find definitely gotta rely a little bit more on some of your most recent information and some of the trail camera and boots on the ground, glassing type of work and looking to see what those hot food sources are and be able to figure out where the bedding might be cuz it might be in a different spot[00:08:00] compared to where you're finding some of these real obvious beds in the post-season.

Now I think acknowledging all of that and knowing all of that is helpful because it helps you plan. At least it helps me plan. Is my intent. What am I hoping to find? What am I gonna ignore? What am I not gonna try to find? Just so I can lay out a little bit more clear picture of what I need to accomplish for a given day, and then also what I need to accomplish for a certain area with how much time I'm gonna give to it.

In certain areas, I might be focusing on betting and trying to find as much bedding as possible in other areas, especially if it's areas that I plan on, maybe. Just out of state too, and I'm not gonna be able to scout a whole lot there. But I also think that I'm probably gonna be hunting it around the rut.

I might look at bedding as somewhat secondary. I might be able to at least assume where it is, but then really look for rut, sign adjacent to bedding. And I might not care quite as much about what the exact beds look like, but point being, I have a plan usually going into that. [00:09:00] The other question you can ask yourself from a high level.

is most of the scouting you're gonna try and do to try and expand and give yourself a little bit wider net and be able to look at places that you maybe haven't hunted in the past and give yourself more options, more fallback plans. Let's say if your primary hunting strategy isn't working out super great in the season, or are you really just trying to learn a deeper and deeper knowledge and a deeper lay of the land?

and areas that you've been hunting already for quite a bit of time, and you're just trying to get that extra level of detail, especially if you're hunting really big properties, really big pieces of land you can only scout and you can only learn so much in any one given year, but you always learn stuff throughout the season, and then when you look back on what you learned, there's always questions.

And so this post-season opportunity gives you a chance to go back into those pieces that you learn and answer those questions. Why did I see deer coming up from this direction? Where might they have been coming from? Now's your opportunity to go figure that out. If you got a [00:10:00] lot of smaller properties around, that's usually where I feel like maybe volume is a little bit better.

And you can definitely take the strategy of getting a little bit of information about a lot of pieces, and then you can try and figure them out during the season. I know. Quite a few guys personally who excel at that type of strategy. I would almost say that if you are somebody who's maybe newer to it, there's nothing wrong with an, it may even be to your benefit to try and use this timeframe to get a better feel for pieces that you've already started to hunt and have got some experience with.

And then you can use that scouting this time of year as a back and forth to train yourself and fill in the gaps of what you saw in the season. Give yourself a little bit more information, and then when you go into the next season, , you'll once again start filling in that back and forth where what you learn in the fall feeds off of what you learned in the spring, and then what you learned in the spring helps inform your next fall.

And then over time you really do start to develop a little bit better [00:11:00] understanding of how the deer live in, work through a specific piece of land. That said, if you're somebody who's maybe a little bit more experienced and are good at reading maps, and maybe are somebody who only wants to. A deer of a certain size.

A lot of the friends that I have who use this method, that's their thing. They might not assume that a deer that they want to go after lives on any given specific piece of public land or any piece of permission that they happen to have. They want lots of options, and then they find the deer first, and then once they find a deer that they want to go after or several, then they narrow in on the specific property and they might not care as much this time of year, exactly. Which piece of land they're going to. So that can limit the amount of time that's spent on any one given piece. But because they have a high volume and they feel like they're able to really fill in the gaps during the season with some of that in-season scouting and most recent information that can tend to be a still very viable and [00:12:00] very productive way to spend your time.

So once you've decided which camp you fall into and what type of scouting you want to be able to accomplish, and. What your main goals are and what you're gonna look to try and find. Then you can start to look at your spring and say, okay, how many weekends are we gonna have? Or how many weekdays?

How many days overall am I going to have to be able to scout? How many pieces of property do I want to try and scout? And then try and break it up. What's feasible, what's possible? Are you gonna have four days to scout? Are you gonna have. 30 days to scout. I know some guys, it seems like they don't have jobs cause they're out in the woods, just literally all the time.

And certainly I'm a little envious of that, but maybe that's not your situation. What I've tended to find is that, For me, if I have a full day of scouting, pretty much dark to dark, I might cover anywhere from five to 15 miles. Totally depends on the terrain. Depends on how diverse it [00:13:00] is, depends on what the habitat is like.

If it's areas that are maybe more sparse and I have to travel. A long distance on foot to get between pockets of better areas, then I tend to put on a little bit more mileage. If it's hill country for whatever reason, I seem to put on more mileage as well. But in areas that are flat or marshy or just have a high level of diversity and very dense, low to the ground cover, I don't seem to cover as much ground.

On any given day. And I think that's just because I spend more time and move a little bit more slowly trying to make sure I don't miss anything. Whereas in some of the more open timber, you're able to see a little bit further and you're able to, really move quickly in areas that are more dead zones and then do some pre-planning.

Don't just say, oh, I'm gonna go hunt, x, y, Z wma and I'm gonna try and get 12 miles in today. And just set an arbitrary. And then just basically go wing it and just, monitor your mileage, do a little due diligence on the front end of it, and get all your ees scouting app, whether it's, [00:14:00] Spartan Forge or whatever.

And. Establish a plan, and I find that the most efficient use of my time tends to be if I can draw loops that maximize the amount of time that I'm walking on transitions. So let's say I have a piece of property that I could legitimately do 10 miles in, but I might find that. If I do two separate loops from the road, let's say one loop is three miles total, and I cover a lot of transition area there.

And then the next loop is, let's say also from the road and it's, four miles or four and a half, I could probably hit those two loops and cover, seven and a half total miles versus just covering the full 10 miles and doing that entire coverage in one go and probably not miss a whole lot.

If you're walking on the transitions, you're gonna find deer sign. If there's deer that are using that area pretty heavily, and certainly you can use your intuition [00:15:00] and spend more time in areas and take little divergences to check out stuff more specifically. But if you're walking transition lines and you're not seeing a lot of sign, you can probably keep on going at a pretty fast rate and to walk through that ground until you start to get to an area.

You're starting to see more Deer sign and it indicates to you that you do wanna slow down. If you spend a lot of time walking through areas that are more monotonous or just open timber or through the middle of Open Prairie, you might learn stuff and you might see deer sign, but it's gonna be harder to connect the dots in terms of making inferences to what that sign actually means, where it's coming from, where it's going to.

And it's probably gonna end up leading you to transition line anyway. So areas with transition and lots of edge. I tend to try and focus more time on and try to minimize the amount of time that I'm spending walking through areas that are not very diverse. And then you can take those areas that you wanna go check out and you can draw some of [00:16:00] these sample loops where you're covering a lot of that diversity and you keep those loop sizes between, three and seven miles.

You see how many you can come up with, and if you come up with more than you can realistically get done in the amount of time that you're gonna have to do your post-season scouting, then maybe you gotta try and pick the ones that are most important. Or you might find that, hey, I can get all that done in three weekends and I'm gonna have more time than that so you can go ahead and add some more.

But allowing you to plan your season out like that, or playing your post-season out like that will allow you to make sure you're maximizing that amount of. And certainly you can deviate from the plan based on what you learned. Maybe one area you go to is just dead, but then the next loop you take, you found a ton of sign and you say, I want to spend more time in there.

And you go ahead and you expand on that loop a little bit more and spend a little bit more time in it. Turn it into, several scouting trips that you go out and learn that particular little loop, more like the back of your hand. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. [00:17:00] Really the focus here or the key takeaway is, If you do that planning on the front end, it gives you a lot of options.

So hopefully you found some of that information useful and might even be able to put some of it to good use over the next few months. That'll do it for this week's episode. As always, make sure to follow the Sports and Z Empire on Instagram and Facebook. Leave a five star review on iTunes and if you're looking for additional content for myself, subscribe to DIY Sportsman on YouTube and hit the bell icon to be notified of new videos.

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