Summer Deer Scouting on Public Land w/ Aaron Warbritton

Show Notes

It’s almost summer! It’s hot, the woods are thick, and the water is calling your name. But for the die-hard whitetail hunter, the work never stops. It’s time to get boots on the ground for some summer scouting! While fighting ticks, thick vegetation and a three-digit heat index may not sound like a lot of fun, summer scouting can set you up for success this fall, especially if you’re covering unfamiliar ground.

In this episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, Josh talks with Aaron Warbritton from The Hunting Public about how he approaches summer scouting. Aaron and the rest of the THP crew literally make a living by taking big bucks in limited time on highly pressured public land. And as you’ll learn from this episode, a lot of their success can be attributed to scouting, specifically, summer scouting. Aaron doesn’t put as much stock into some of the typical summer scouting tactics like glassing ag fields. Instead, he prefers to jump right into the thick of it and try to find where the bucks are bedding, or will be bedding come hunting season. Tune in to hear how Aaron uses summer scouting to put him and the rest of the THP crew on big bucks in the fall.

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Show Transcript

Josh Raley: [00:00:00] On this week's episode of the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, I've got a guy that really needs no introduction, but if you haven't heard from him, you should crawl out from underneath the rock you're living under. And check out the Hunting Public's YouTube channel. I've got Aaron Warbritton. What's going on, buddy?

Aaron Warbritton: Oh, not much man. Just hanging out. Working.

Josh Raley: Yeah. How's the, how does summer look for you guys? Obviously fall and spring we see everything that you're doing but what is summertime like for y'all? Are you just. Walking around in a state of depression, cuz you can't chase anything around. No.

Aaron Warbritton: We're plan, we're planning all the trips and stuff right now, oh yeah,

Josh Raley: we, yeah,

Aaron Warbritton: we just we just had a meeting this morning, the whole group, and we were discussing what, where we're going and when and who's got tags where, and who's going to buy tags here and there, and what dates and.

So on and so forth. So we're just out of Turkey season, only removed from it by a couple weeks now, and we're already planning for stuff that's, hunts that are gonna start in mid August and then run clear through [00:01:00] February of next year. My goodness, the fall season Is really more than fall.

It's like late summer through, mid to late winter almost. Yeah. When we have a, then we have a little over a month off in between the end of deer hunting and Turkey hunting. And then yeah, obviously the summertime, which we're in right now. Yeah, we're still doing lots of projects and whatnot for the channel.

Lots of content. I think we filmed six or seven different videos with Ranch Ferry last week. Down in Texas pig hunting. So we've got that stuff. And then gobs more content that's on deck here for the next couple months. And we have to start getting cameras out here soon and gonna try to do some scouting next week.

So just never ends, there's always something going on

Josh Raley: for sure. I won't bother you with where all you guys are going, cause I know you get that question a thousand times throughout the summer as you're heading into what your fall is gonna look like, but, How do you guys handle that? I'm curious, is there one person [00:02:00] that's Hey, this is what we need to cover this fall?

Or is it everybody just Hey, here's what I want to chase and can we make it happen? That's

Aaron Warbritton: the way that it goes. But at the same time, everybody can't, we can't all be that way. If we're all, if we're like, this is where I'm gonna go, you guys should come with me. Somebody else has got different ideas and different schedules and whatnot, so we really are.

We really, each of us has to sacrifice a fair bit of our own time, our own hunting time for in the pursuit of either filming one of the other guys or helping edit or whatever. So this fall we're basically picking a couple of different locations, is our prime hunting locations.

Each of us. For me it may be at home and in one or two other states. And then for Jake it may be the same thing. He may have a tag here at home and then me, he may have a tag, up in Wisconsin where his family lives, [00:03:00] or he may get a tag out west somewhere. But we're, and then we just schedule it out through the fall so that.

We'll leave for one tag for about a week and a half, two weeks, then we'll come back. Those people on that trip will edit for a week or two while the people there were at home while the first group was out hunting will go out. So there's six or seven of us in a group. At any given moment throughout the entire fall, three or four of us will be in the woods every day, but we, you know me individually, I may only be in the woods for seven to 10 days.

Either filming or hunting or helping edit onsite. And then I'll be home for seven to 10 days editing. Wow. Wow. So does it's constantly revolving door.

Josh Raley: Yeah. It keeps each of you guys out in the field and none of you none of you behind a computer for too long. Yeah. Although I'm sure it, I'm sure it feels too long when you'd really rather be out hunting, but it does.


Aaron Warbritton: computer time wears on you. But that's just, that's what you gotta do. And. [00:04:00] The people that are a, actually on the trips doing the hunting and the filming are the ones that usually do all the editing for that particular hunt, because they're the ones that know what the heck happened.

Josh Raley: Yeah. They can tell that story.

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. How much does and this isn't the topic I wanna talk about, but I've got 10,000 things I wanna ask you. How much does, like prime time of year play into how you guys make your decisions? Because I, I see some places where you go, Where you're like, yeah, man, it's the peak of the rut.

Of course, you're there during the peak of the rut. But then I see other other times where I'm like, man, that, like you could have probably had a lot better hunting three weeks ago, or three weeks from now. So how much do you try to schedule that in, and how much of it is just you know what, we're just giving people a real feel for what it's like to hunt this time and this state?


Aaron Warbritton: We're constantly saying that. The, that's just a conundrum that we're always trying to figure out. Because we're either early or we're late or we're right on time. Last year, for example, we got to Arkansas [00:05:00] in early December in the area that we hunted. We were about a week and a half late from Yeah, peak buck activity.

So we had to adapt our tactics a little bit and change up what we were doing. And that just, I guess that's the way it always is no matter what, but. There's definitely a lot of areas that we hunt, either early or late that we wish we could go back to during the rut, but as that ruts only a certain amount of time long.

So we try to all be in the woods as much as possible throughout that time. But there's definitely years when we wish we could. We could hit some more areas through the rut. It just is a process, man.

Josh Raley: Yeah, for sure. So what, you know what I, you guys should head down to southern Florida in August with some of the rut going on down there.

Yeah, that's actually a, that's actually a joke. I had a guy on last week he hunts around the Jacksonville area and man, it's just, that's a tough place to hunt. Oh yeah. Especially it is tough to [00:06:00] think about running bucks when it's 95 and. You're sweating and it's just miserable, but we'd like

Aaron Warbritton: to get down there at some point.

I've heard about that and sounds like it's a really cool hunt, but there's a lot of things we want to try that I'm sure we'll get to. It's just, with deer you can only, you can get over extended real fast and that's what we did last fall. We all just had too many tags going in too many different directions.

We'd go on the hunt and be there for four days and be like, man, we're just starting to figure it out and we gotta leave. So this year we're. We're trying to shrink that load down a little bit so we can focus more on just a few specific areas. Again,

Josh Raley: spend a little more time in each one.

Yeah. Yep. Okay. Good deal, man. I wanted to have you on to talk about summer scouting and some of the first, I guess some of the first videos I saw from you guys was back in the Midwest whitetail days, you were doing a lot of public land scouting, and a lot of your stuff was during the summer.

Yeah. And I know with the schedule you keep now, it's hard to [00:07:00] squeeze in. You're not exactly gonna be able to have the time to do a lot of post-season scouting, let's say cuz you're still hunting till end of January and then you got Turkey season breathing down your neck, right? I thought, who better to have on to talk about summer scouting than the guys that really have to depend on that quite a bit?

So I just want to kick it off by saying, what, how does that summer scouting process look like for you guys? Like, where do you where do you start? Do you are you making special trips to some of these states to try to scout them during the summer, or are just taking it off and saying we're just gonna stick close to home for summer scouting, and then we'll figure those other spots out when we get there.


Aaron Warbritton: we'll go to the other states, but most of the time, this is summer scouting we do, is focused around home. And we, but I mean we're, it's focused in our home state or the, those states surrounding our home state, but we're usually scouting new areas in the summer. Most of the time we're not going [00:08:00] back into an area that we've scouted or hunted in the past.

During the summer anyway, we u we use that time to scout new areas and I'd say we're scouting new areas 80, 90% of the time in the summer.

Josh Raley: Okay. So that you're kicking off with new areas. Does, do you do as much summer scouting as you used to or has that kind of

Aaron Warbritton: It dwindled some in the last few years, but there's, when we're hunting at home, like there's a direct correlation between how much time we spend scouting in the success that we have.

I can look back through the last 10 years of hunting in Iowa and I can show you the three or four years where we just crushed them in the fall, and then there's two or three years where we didn't do so well. And the only the big, I shouldn't say the only that the major difference in the years when we did really well and when we didn't do as well is the amount of time scouting.

Wow. And

Josh Raley: I'm, that's really interesting cuz I, I feel like I feel like there was this whole wave [00:09:00] where summer scouting was a big topic and then it crested and everybody's summer scouting and, really starting to question the value of summer scouting.

It's not really that important. So it's pretty significant for you guys then. Yeah. But I

Aaron Warbritton: would say we do it a lot differently than the folks that say that it's not important. The, a lot of times you hear, and I've heard that same opinion out there as well. And I think what they're referring to a lot of times is glassing bucks and fields are finding bucks or whatever they say, it's not as important because the buck that you find in July, who the heck knows where he's gonna be on October 1st when hunting season starts.

Yep. And now I, there's definitely some merit to that. We've seen the same thing, but we're not necessarily trying to find a specific buck to hunt during the summer. We're looking at we're looking at how do the deer in general use the area and what the habitat looks like on a micro scale within these bedding areas during the summer.[00:10:00]

Like we're looking at all those details. We're looking for old buck sign. We're looking for, bedding areas that, that they would likely use or possibly use during the different stages of the fall. Really all it's all things woodsmanship that we're looking towards. We're not, we don't spend a ton of time sitting on a field of glass and bucks in the summer.

Just because the

Josh Raley: limited value of that

Aaron Warbritton: incident. Yeah. We love watching 'em and, we'll run trail cameras and that sort of thing in those areas in the summer to try to get some velva videos or whatever. But what we're more, like I said we're way more focused on scout and bedding areas during the summer and walking them and walking the exits going in and out of the entire area.

And to be honest the way we scout doesn't really change much from post-season to summer. And like you alluded to, we don't have that much time to scout post-season. Ideally, we'd scout in the early part of the spring. Yeah. But we just don't have time. So we've gotta go in there and make due with [00:11:00] summer.

But what we're doing when we're scouting is we're going in and we're completely blowing that area up, usually with multiple guys and we're walking everything. I'll use that OnX Tracker tool on my phone and I'll turn it on when I get in the bedding area. And sometimes if I've got time, I'll literally walk every trail that I see in that bedding area, man.

Okay. Yeah. And it may take hours but at the end of it, you have this picture on your map with all of those trails, and you can see on a larger scale, Where they intersect, where, the general direction that some of those deer traveling in and out of those bedding areas and some of the trails that you're looking at in July may be beat down at that time of the year.

Some of them may be visible but not getting used, and we're not really worried about what's fresh. We're just looking in general, how do the deer use that area? And you can tell, you just have to look, you just [00:12:00] have to look carefully. There's more vegetation to deal with and stuff, but if you're walking a trail for an instance along the downwind, along a, prevailing wind downwind side of the bedding area, and you're seeing gobs of rubs right there and licking branches and stuff.

You come back there in the fall and there's a high likelihood that stuff is opened up. Okay, because of cruising bucks. And it may not be, but you know that information on how that lays by going in there in the summer and basically jotting all that down on your notes and with your maps, and you do that enough time scouting enough of those thick bedding areas.

That you really have a good inventory going into the fall. Then once you get into the fall, you reverse engineer everything. So once you get into the fall, you already know what the inside of that vet area looks like and what the staging areas look like coming off of it because of your scouting in the summer.

Then you start putting cameras or [00:13:00] out along the edges of it, or observing out along the edges of it. Without putting much pressure on it at all. You don't want to go in there, you do not want to risk blowing 'em out. Sure, sure. But if you find a buck or two that you want to hunt that's in that area, say end of September or middle of October or whenever in hunting season, then you know how it lays and you can dive in there and you can start, reverse engineering if you will. That same spot that you'd scouted before. We go in there and we're looking at, I, it's hard to explain all the details really, but I'm looking at individual trees and potential setups.

Even potential ground setups don't, doesn't really matter. And we're trying to get basically as many details as we possibly can inside of that bedding area in one trip, and then getting the heck out of there. Okay. Yeah, I mean we're trying to absorb as much of that information, boots on the ground as possible [00:14:00] because that is not an area we wanna spend a bunch of time in.

Once you go in there and you blow it up in July, you got that whole day and maybe even the following day to, to figure out anything that you need to figure out within a month and a half. There may be there. There, the deer will either all be right back in there that you bumped or it'll be a whole different.

Sweet and deer that are in there.

Josh Raley: Yeah. That are using it. How important is that? So in, in my experience doing some summer scouting, that vegetation piece is hard to get around. Man. It just, it feels like you can get in there and you're like, I can't see anything. It can just, it can be really hard to pull your head up outta the weeds, literally and figuratively.

And begin to put the pieces together. So how important is that for y'all to have multiple people? We, as we as bow hunters, we tend to be a little bit secretive, especially if we're out hunting public land. What, how important is that for you guys to go in with two or three people to try to piece that

Aaron Warbritton: together?

It definitely helps. It just helps and it helps to gather more [00:15:00] knowledge faster. It's just more efficient that way. Because we can all meet back at the truck after we're done scouting a bunch of those areas, and we may only spend three or four hours out there. But, we covered three times the amount of ground and there's so many little details that you can pick up on that ki that might end up being the difference between, seeing a big buck or killing a big buck.

For instance, I think about, I think back to a vet area. We scouted a couple years ago. We were, we're in the middle of this very thick area. It was nasty, it was hot. There's ticks everywhere. You can't see very far at all. And two out, the three of us didn't really find much, but the other guy found a little like secluded water hole back in there that you cannot see from an aerial photograph.

And that spot was tore up with fresh sign where deer had been using it in the summer, but it also had a go, gobs of rut sign in it, and nearby was a little op, an old [00:16:00] fence with an open gate leading out of another bedding area with a trail that wasn't fresh, but you could visibly see where deer we're.

Leaving that here, walking through that open gate and that fence, and going to that water hole. And it's in the middle of really thick stuff. And we found that spot in the middle of the summer and went back there in the fall and it was just jammed up. It was awesome. Yeah. But we were, my point is we would've never found that if there would've only been two of us or just one of us.

Sure. We would've had to done three, three times the amount of walking. So

Josh Raley: Yeah. I feel like that, I feel like that's pretty limiting on a lot of guys. You go in and you walk around an area and it's easy to say, I onto the next one, I can't really, I can't really see much. I can't really tell much of what's going on in here when it comes to a lot of those little details.

Is there a good or helpful way that you've found to filter through some of that information? Is there anything that you're like, ah, that's great, but it's not really telling me very much as opposed to, this thing over here that's really getting me fired up about this area.

Aaron Warbritton: It's so situational that [00:17:00] it's hard to pin that down.

Okay. I'm more or less taking in information in general as we're going. I'm trying to pay attention to a number of things, but you could overthink the heck out of this stuff when you get in there. You can, you could spend weeks and weeks in there. Thinking about every single tree. And you know what, where the, where there's red Oaks at that might be dropping in late October, where there's white oaks at, that might be dropping in early October where there's honey locust patches.

It might be dropping during the late season and just, you could just, your brain will explode. But there's there's fine details that you occasionally come across, like that water hole or that open gate I just mentioned that you want to pay real close attention to. And with those we're just constantly dropping pins on points of interest.

And to be honest, we don't get it right most of the time. We get it right maybe 20, 30% of the time, but if you get enough of those [00:18:00] spots and points of interest on your map, Then you start to build this library and there's even spots where we have found killer, good looking bedding areas in the summer.

Went back in the fall and it sucked. Went in there the next fall and there wasn't much in there at all. And then three, four years later, boom, there's a big one using that area. And we still are drawing off of that intel that we had from four years ago when we scouted it. But that's what we're, I guess the simplest way to put it is go into the thickest area that you anticipate deer to be betting in and start looking at the exits.

That's what I'm always most focused on. How are the deer getting in and out of that thing, and how close can I get to it without getting busted? So when, as far as details are concerned, that would be the number one for me going in there in, in general anyway. Okay. And when you find exit [00:19:00] trails that may converge, a lot of times you'll find maybe one trail coming from a different veterinarian and one trail coming out of that veterinarian, and they'll form an X, there'll be a crossing there of some kind.

A lot of times there'll be licking branches broken there, or an old scrape and you can still see 'em in the summer. They may not be using it much. They may still be using the licking branches right now, but they don't have enough testosterone going yet to start, pawning at the ground to really open those scrapes up.

But anytime I see a licking branch in a situation like that, I'll drop a pin on it. And if we're coming in there scouting those edges in those exit trails, Say we, it just rained and you're walking down that exit trail within 300 yards of that bedding area, and you're starting to find big tracks in it that are coming and going on that same trail.

Then you get up to that scrape that's a hundred yards from the bedding and it's opened up and there's fresh pee in it from last night. It's you're I equate it to a dog getting birdie. When they get [00:20:00] close to a cubby, a quail or something, it's like their tail starts wagging and then they start to freeze up a little bit.

You just know that there's a high likelihood that he's in there or he's close and you just set up right there in that spot. Cause you've already scouted it. You already know how far away. More than likely he is at that particular moment, if he's in the bedding. And the, so it's scouting both times.

The hunting aspect of it is almost secondary. The scouting, the base scouting that you do in the summer, just learning the ins and outs of that bedding area, and then your secondary scouting that you're doing during hunting season to figure out if a buck is in there more specifically. Is he in there right now at this exact moment?

Yeah. And you're deciding to hunt?

Josh Raley: Yeah, so the summer isn't necessarily, Hey, there was a buck in here last year, so I'm keying in on that. And this is, where I'm gonna be come October 20th. No, it's I'm building this web of [00:21:00] information, Yes. Either in your head or on a map so that I can come back and scout the freshest, hottest sign come fall.

Aaron Warbritton: Yes, that's right. And not to say that Bucks won't use the same areas you're in and year out, they certainly will. But there's so many other factors that are ever changing. One year you may have a tremendous white oak crop, and that totally puts the deer in a different area of the landscape for the first two weeks of the season.

Next year you may not have, you may have zero white oaks and red oak acorns are dropping like crazy. That may put 'em in a completely different area. One year you may have flooding, one year you may have drought. That changes the browse and the woods. There's just, there's all kinds of things.

That could alter the Deere's behavior or their decision to use that area. But the main thing with thick bedding areas is mature bucks want to be in that thick cover. They want to be in we just did a podcast recently with the guys from Mississippi State [00:22:00] University, and the scientific phrase that they use for that is screening cover.

That's a great way to put it because that's where mature bucks want to be. So if you're even in the summer, you can identify what looks like screening cover versus the fall. You can tell, you can definitely tell the difference right now, from an open stand of closed canopy timber to a thicker area that has got a lot of that screening cover.

So regardless of what they're feeding on, there's only so many of those spots on the landscape. And the more of those that you know the ins and outs of the better your odds are at Fineum. Cuz that's what, when during the fall, when we're speed scouting, if you will, while we're hunting, that's what we're doing is we're going from bedding area A to bedding area B to C to D and on, so on and so forth.

And we may run across four or five of 'em before we finally start seeing what we're looking for. And at, we may [00:23:00] be putting up cameras on those exits right now. You know those exit trails, like that scrape example I gave you a minute ago with the licking branches? We may be setting cameras over that right now, but we're not even gonna touch those things until the very last day of September or early October, literally when we're going in there to potentially hunt that spot.

Yeah, just pull the card and see. Has anything been used? Yes. Like day of or day before or whatever. It all depends on how close that camera is to the spot where you're gonna hunt. If that camera is potentially sitting on an exit within a hundred yards of potential bedding, and we think that's, that we literally might set up in the spot where the camera is, we'll take good care not to check that camera until we have the correct wind to hunt that exact spot.

We won't go in there the day before we have the correct wind to check it. Because then we're leaving sent. We don't wanna do that. We wanna go in there and check it that day, middle of the day. And if he's on there, then we can set up that afternoon. But that's all situational. Heck, we've had it [00:24:00] happen where we've, we couldn't get the camera quite, or we did, we decided not to put the camera right next to the bedding.

We put it 200 yards from the bedding on a really good crossing where we knew we could get photographs of deer. We went in there, got nocturnal or nighttime picks of a buck. That we suspected was using the same betting area. Three, four days later, we hunted the backside of that same be area on a different wind and he came out of it.

So it all depends. The amount of pressure that you put on it depends on how close you are to it. Cause if I'm getting, if I'm putting it up in a place where I'm anticipating getting a bunch of nighttime photos of the deer, we'll check it once a week. We don't really care. Because we're gonna zip in there.

They're showing up at night there because there's not enough sufficient bedding cover close by or they're used to people being there and that's why they're using it at night. So we don't really care about leaving scent. We'll go in there and leave scent all over [00:25:00] the place, but it's a totally different, trail cameras set up, if you will, in the way that you treat those.

Does that make sense? I cannot take off rambling in some.

Josh Raley: No, that's really good. I've got two. Two, two thoughts. Two questions. One has to do with the trail cameras. I wanna come back to that. The second has to do with these with these bedding areas. I think a lot of guys that are saying, Hey limited importance of summer scouting, they're doing, like you said they're scouting roads, they're scouting ag fields.

They may be looking for creek crossings or that kind of thing. They're not necessarily in the real thick of it, right? They're not necessarily in the bedding areas. But I hear a lot of the conversation around bedding areas, really hinging on early season bedding or late season bedding or rut bedding or that kind of thing.

And a few years ago I started really trying to key in on bedding. That was more year round, and I started to find more and more of these places. Is that similar to what you guys are doing and noticing? Is that what you're putting the emphasis on, or do [00:26:00] you have spots that you're like, Hey, that's a.

That's a, an a mid-October betting area. And we know, during the summer we're not gonna find much. Late season, we're not gonna find much, but mid-October we know it'll turn on. Or are you guys keying in on, hey, we know they're in here. This is the best cover around, they're in here January to, to December.


Aaron Warbritton: ideal. That is the perfect situation. But I will say that with one caveat, we don't find those very often. Those are, I can count those on one hand. That, and those are like, those are the diamonds in the rough, if you will, tho those spots we can rely on year end and year out to usually half bucks in them, unless pressure gets in there and then they move, then they leave.

And they don't leave the area, they don't leave the property entirely. They just shift. But I think Dan Inal at one time called those primary bedding areas and that, that's a pretty good way to put it. But yes, ideally that's what we would love to [00:27:00] find. But more frequently what we find is the second example that you mentioned, where they're only here during, couple weeks in October, or they're only here at the end of the month of September.

Or this is a better rut, bedding location. On the day, on one side of dos. Those are much more common. And it's, those are all about timing, right? You're not gonna do any good hunting in there on the 1st of October if he's not gonna start using it as a bedding there until the 20th.

With that said, you can also go in there and burn it up and leave a bunch of scent, and you can come right back in there a week to 10 days later, and there's a huge buck there. And I think what happens is that they just weren't in there when you were and you basically left all that sent and applied all that pressure.

Then you left it for a couple weeks and come back in. Things have completely changed in the Deere's environment at that point, cuz as throughout the fall things are changing rapidly, almost down to the day.[00:28:00] Especially the month of October. That's why, that's one reason, I think is the biggest reason why folks struggle to get on deer in October, especially big bucks.

It's not because they're in nocturnal, it's because they're changing. They're doing something completely different. They're not moving as far during the daylight either, I'll say that, but we still see 'em up out of their beds well before dark or even after daylight in the morning. It's just they're using different parts of the landscape

Josh Raley: when you're scouting then.

So my favorite little spot down the road here, 1200 acre piece of public, pretty big, and I've found two bedding areas that are what I would consider those primary bedding areas. The ones that are year round, it doesn't matter. There's deer in 'em all the time. The others though are, like you said, they're more situational, they're more based on time of year.

What are some of the things that you're keying in on let's say when you're doing your summer scouting that says, Hey, This one is September. This one is November. What are you gonna see that tells you when you need to [00:29:00] come back? Or are you just going to, Hey, I'll give it a shot in early October.

I'll give it a shot in late October. I'll give it a shot in mid-October. We

Aaron Warbritton: do a little bit of both, to be honest. But I would say the bedding areas that are easier to find are the rut bedding areas, because all we're basically looking for than is do. And if you're hunting a public area, even in a heavily pressured state, You may have a dough bedding area within 300 yards of the parking lot that may have, two adult doughs and a few fawns and a year and a half old dough in it.

Pretty regularly. There may be three to 5, 6, 10 deer in there often, but mature bucks rarely use that bedding area because it is so close to the pressure dough have adapted to it and they're more homebodies anyway, so they're. That may be a bedding area that we look at though, and we're like, oh, look at this.

Scrape on this one side. A buck may move in here around the 25th of October, and we need to be, we need to keep tabs on this particular area [00:30:00] during that time. And then the rest of the year we may just completely ride it off. So we find gobs of those. But every one of those we drop a pin on and, you're just, Put that thought in your mind.

Don't forget about that spot. It's just not gonna be good all the time. And then other areas to your first part of that question, I guess we're looking for thick remote areas where people never go, or rarely go. And that's the most general, easiest way I can put it is in those particular areas, we start scouting for other food sources close by or water sources close by.

So if we find that, if it meets those qualifications, if it's remote, or if it's in an area where people never go and there's two, that, that can mean two different things. That can mean 400 yards from a parking lot or a road that could mean four miles from a parking lot or a road.

But if people don't go there, [00:31:00] you need to keep that in mind for both. If it's got to correct, if it's got thick cover and all those things. So once we find that thick cover in a place where people don't go, we start scouting outward. From there, work in out, and we start looking for the first available potential food sources on the outskirts of that bedding area.

That may be a oak flat, that may be a hedge thicket that's dropping hedge leaves for one week in the fall. That could be a little patch of C r P grass that's got Forbes that are still green in late September that they're still browsing on. Any number of those things. It could be, you could have had the D N R come in and do some cutting around the edge of one of those where there's a bunch of like short maple stumps that are shooting up.

New woody browse shoots that are full of nutrients and deer are just hammering those. So you may need to keep an eye on that, especially if it's close to bedding. [00:32:00] Where we don't pay much attention to that stuff is once you get far away from bedding. So we're being very selective in the deer sign that we're prioritizing because there's deer sign all over the woods, but we're only concerned about the stuff that is really close to the thicket where he is gonna be laying.

And like I said, it couldn't be, it could mean anything. It could mean any of those food sources I just mentioned. It could mean an ag field. It could mean a secluded water source, like what we talked about a while ago with the water hole in the edge of the bedding area. It could be a creek that is another way to kill 'em.

You can use the creek to get in and out of there, and they all, it also doubles as a permanent water source right next to the bedding area. Those can be killer spots. But yeah, that's just, that's, I could go on and on, on the different things that we found on the outskirts of these bedding areas, but that's what you're looking for.

And half the time, I don't even know what the plants are that they're feeding on. I don't really [00:33:00] care, but I know what browsing sign looks like. And when I see that, I know, okay, they're feeding on this and there's some fresh sign here right now. And it's really close to that bedding area, and there's a huge rub on the edge of it.

There's a chance he might come out of there and feed on this during the daylight when I can kill him. So I'm, putting that in the memory bank and moving on. Yeah. Who cares what it's called? Yeah. I don't care what it's called. I just know they're eating it.

Josh Raley: Might be fun to know but really doesn't make much of a difference.

So as you guys approach these bedding areas, especially during the summertime, you're hanging up your trail cameras. One piece that I have, Just not been able to unlock yet. Has been that. Okay. I get a picture at let's say in the summertime I'm getting a 10:30 PM picture, or I'm getting a 12, a 12:00 AM picture or a 2:00 AM picture.

How far, w what does that put in your mind when you see a middle of the night picture? Are you, how far away are you thinking that he is? Cuz that's a tough one to unravel [00:34:00] just because of the way that they wander about the woods, right? So what are you gonna say? Okay, this a, this camera's 300 yards away and he's here at this time, so I think he's gonna be in there.

You get what I'm saying?

Aaron Warbritton: Oh yeah. We backtrack him all the time. Do you using that logic, and it all depends. It all depends on the specific buck and as they get older, they become more individual. So it. It all depends. If we are getting them just a couple hours after dark, we're gonna hunt pretty dang close within a few hundred yards of that camera.

As long as there's sufficient bedding close by. If we don't, if there's not thick enough cover or a spot where we anticipate 'em to bed within four or 500 yards of it, we usually don't hunt it. We'll usually just chalk that up as a fluke while he is there. Or we'll be wrong and we'll walk in there and we'll bump him out of a spot where we didn't expect him to be.

That happens all the time, but you only gotta be right [00:35:00] once in an entire fall. If you're right once, and he walks right outta there on the trail that you hung it hung on, and he's 20 yards. Then there's your season and. The, even the absence of deer is important on a camera. If you scouted the bedding areas, so to your example, if you're getting pictures of one in the middle of the night or the middle of the morning, I'm usually not putting a lot of stock into that.

That thing could be coming from three quarters of a mile away. It depends on that deer's personality. If he's more of a homebody that you're getting all over the property that you're hunting, I would still say he's several hundred yards away from any bedding. That's, but that don't take that as the gospel.

I could, you could be completely wrong. He could be betting a hundred yards from that camera and just exiting a different way and he's coming back into it that way and that's why you're getting him in the middle of the morning. But in general, that's what we see is there. They're a long way from that camera.

But what we've found is we've been [00:36:00] getting, this is a good example that I think will pertain to summer scouting, leading in the fall. We were, we had a trail camera up on a good rut trail all summer, and we checked it in mid-September and it had three or four really big velvet bucks on it. July and August, in early September, a couple of 'em showed up on it as they were, she shedding their velvet and then they were gone.

And I, we had daytime and nighttime pictures of them all summer. But then what was interesting was the last two and a half weeks that the camera was there leading up to the season, right up to October 1st, we did not get a single picture of any of those bucks. And what most people think then is, oh, that, this is the dreaded fall shift.

This is why a lot of folks don't put stock in the summer scouting. They're like wherever they're at in the summer doesn't mean, I'm gonna know where they're at in the fall. That is true. But if you scouted the bedding areas, you know where they could have potentially went. [00:37:00] So you look at that camera and that there hasn't been any of those bucks on there for two and a half weeks, but they were there all summer.

It's where is the next available bedding area in this location? And what happened was, in this particular instance, no pictures for last two weeks, October, we dove in about 600 yards from that spot to the more remote bedding area across the creek. And we saw 'em all in one night. So is that

Josh Raley: pretty typical?

I'm, my next question that I've actually got here on my list was about that shift. That, like you said, that is why a lot of folks are like, I don't care where he is at in August. Because come September he's gonna be somewhere totally different, not necessarily the case. So what, is there any kind of are you noticing, they always shift to, or typically shift to the more secluded bedding. Is it they typically shift to bedding, closer to water, closer to food? Or is there any rhyme or reason that you guys have noticed over the years? Or is it just you just gotta know where they're all at and check 'em?[00:38:00]

Aaron Warbritton: You gotta know where they're at and check 'em. They're, it's hard to put your finger on anything specific, and I would hesitate to ever use the term always or never. Even when folks are saying, they're gonna shift and I'm gonna have to refine 'em anyway. That's not necessarily the case.

That thing may stay in the same exact freaking spot all summer and all fall. Yep. It all depends, especially once you start getting to an older buck, they just behave. They just have these personalities that are so individual. But what I see more often, I would say this is safe to say, but I see more often.

When they shift, they go to a secluded spot where there's a fair amount of that security cover. I was talking about that screening cover, but it's better if they have permanent water and a wide diversity of plant life. Very close. So either in the bedding or on the edge of the bedding. And that could mean [00:39:00] lots of green Forbes and grasses.

That could mean, hardwoods with acorns that are potentially dropping. But if you can find a vet area that's got all of that stuff and it's pretty remote and it's got that screening cover incorporated somewhere within it, plus permanent water, then you're starting to, You're starting to really get birdy.

Yeah. Yeah. That's the stuff that, that we're like, okay. It would make sense for them to have relocated to this cuz the soybeans have turned yellow. They're no longer seeking them like they were for the last two months. So they're in this instance, maybe they're shifting back to summer brows or early fall brows, which could be, Forbes that haven't quite turned.

That are still available or acorns are starting to drop and you're, you relocate back to that. But man, if you can find a spot like that has got permanent water and a diverse array of plants [00:40:00] real, real close at hand, then the buck that, that makes total sense for them to be right there. Yep.

Yeah, that's because they have a wide variety of food sources. It's like it in, I feel like you give yourself more margin for error with spots like that because if you guess that they're gonna be on acorns and you get back there and you're wrong, but there's so many other diverse, or there's so much diversity right there and there's so many other plants they could feed on, the buck still might be there, he just may not be he may not be feeding on the acorns that are on one side of the bedroom area. He may be coming out of the other side of it. And browsing on, Forbes that are growing along the edge of the creek in a grassy opening or something. Yep. That's what we see anyway. Yes those are the really hot spots in early October.

Josh Raley: Yeah. So just trying to hedge your bets as much as possible, the most possible available options for the Deere. Yeah. And I think another important thing too, when you say screening cover, you're not talking about the. The silly [00:41:00] I won't say silly. I'll probably edit that out.

The bag of plot screen stuff that's 12 feet tall, like it doesn't have to be 12 feet tall to be good screening cover for a deer.

Aaron Warbritton: No, it's gotta be about chest high for you. Maybe even shorter. What I've noticed with bucks is they, if they can bed and be hidden and then stand and see. That's good enough.

But they gotta be able to be hidden while they're vetted like that. That's why waste to chest high cover in diverse cover don't overlook that. A lot of people walk right through c r p grass fields that got all kinds of weeds and plants growing in them little shrubs and trees, they walk right through that to get to the wood lot in the back, and all they're doing is walking

Josh Raley: right past the bucks.

Yep, that's right. Some of my favorite spots for. September and October timeframe there's a lot of pheasant hunting where we're at here in southern Wisconsin, and I love to set up in some of that, some of those fields that are gonna be used for pheasant hunting later in the [00:42:00] season, but that are close to water because man, they just hold deer.

And actually, I really love to be there on the opener of pheasant season. Yeah. If you can do it without getting shot because that's right, man. Last year I just saw bucks pouring out. Of this big CRP type area right along the creek, and they're all hole up out there now. I hadn't hardly seen any nice bucks before that.

They're holding tight to that cover, but man, as soon as the pheasant hunters start walking through there, you're like, oh, all that was in there. And it's like you said, chest high. Yep. That's what we see too. Yeah. So shifting a little bit to that, setting yourself up for early season, right?

How much of your, I know a lot of your early season tactic comes back to the bedding area. Are you guys getting super, super aggressive even with the early season? Or is there are you holding off just a little bit? Are you holding back, let's say you've got a, what you consider, a primary bedding area.

Are you gonna slow play that at all, like stage hunt your way in, or are you really just gonna swing for the fences when you feel like [00:43:00] it's right?

Aaron Warbritton: Most of the time we're gonna swing for the fences. But we will occasionally stage hunt it and creep in there. It just depends on how long we expect that to take.

If we're start, if we're stage hunting into an area that we're not super sure of, like if we just suspect the deer is bedding in this general direction, but we don't know exactly where. We'll stage on in boom, one night next night, a little further next night, a little further. But if the bottom line is if you suspect a big buck is in there right now, you gotta try to figure out a way to kill him right now.

Yep. Because in a week he might not be there, he's gonna be somewhere else, and if you booger it or blow it up or whatever, that doesn't mean it's the end of the game at all. That means that the game is just getting started. Because that thing won't leave most of the time, he's, he may leave that area and we get the question all the time I was going in and I bumped a big buck outta the area.

Should I [00:44:00] just set up in this spot? And hope that he comes back and will he come back within a couple days? I have no idea. Maybe there's a chance. Yeah. But what I think the more important lesson and answer to that question is that, There's a good chance you did, you obviously spooked to him, but there's a good chance you are still in the game.

He might just move bedding areas and tomorrow he's 350 yards away from that spot in a similar bedding area to the one that you just bumped him out of. He hasn't left and he's not just gonna turn nocturnal and just bed down all day. He's gonna keep doing what he's doing. He's gonna be getting up and moving.

Good chance during daylight. You just need to be able to move to those different spots. I would weigh, and when it comes to read and sign and I guess learning if he's there or not, I would rather see one huge track [00:45:00] that's really fresh after a rain that is entering and exiting on the same trail.

Or entering and exiting on a group of trails that are coming out of, or, and going back into a bedding area and no other sign. I mean it a lot of folks will go to a bedding area and they'll see a tore up with rubs along the outside in a scrape and all the, all this deer sign. But when you really look at a fine tooth detail level, at that sign, you're gonna realize it may be a week, two weeks old.

You know that scrape wasn't, hasn't been worse since the last rain. And those rubs, the bark on, it's not still sweating. It's dried up a little bit. That there might have been two or three bucks in that bedding area on September 10th when they were shedding their velvet and their testosterone was just picking up a little bit.

But now it's October 5th. Where are they right now? If I see that as fresh tracks, like I'm was just telling you [00:46:00] about without all that other sign, that's where he, that's where I believe he is right now. Yeah. And I could be wrong. Like I said, you only ought be right one time, but I would rather have that scenario than the ladder.

Yeah, for sure. You don't see if you see a good track,

Josh Raley: you don't have to wonder is that turning on or is it turning off like you would've scrape or something like that. That I've. Recently been paying a lot more attention to scrapes and stuff, and you'll see scrapes in early October.

Oh yeah. And they're fresh now, and you come back a week later and nothing, and you check 'em again in November. Nothing. Yep. They turned on for four or five days.

Aaron Warbritton: Why? We see that all the time. Literally, you can go into a spot and you can hunt it for a week straight, not see anything but doze and fons.

Then go in there the next day and there's three or four scrapes that are wide open and. But you see it, it's, it messes with your mind because you're like, it does, man. I've been in here. I haven't seen nothing. Why should I even waste time here? Yep. So you gotta think, where's he at [00:47:00] right now? Where's he at this very moment?

And we've set up in those spots and killed bucks. Right then, man, and they just showed up. I don't know when, they, they showed up overnight. They moved into that betting area. But even looking at the G P s collar data that the M S U guys have on buck bedding and how they shift and move around, it makes total sense why you see that it's like this buck may be a homebody and he may bed 80% of his time for two weeks in a very small area, and just bouncing around within that area, and then all of a sudden he goes 300 yards from there and he beds two or three times in a different area.

They shift around. So it that's the main thing is seeing the sign that tips you off to where he is at today and hunting that spot as soon as possible. Being super aggressive with that spot if you can. Cuz if he is in there, you gotta be close enough to kill him in daylight. I can't tell [00:48:00] you how many times that we've set up just 15 yards too far.

And it was literally the difference in getting a shot and K not Yeah. Yeah. I think because we saw him come out of there right at last light, and he, we just did not get him quite far enough to kill him. Yeah.

Josh Raley: I feel like I saw a lot of that in in you guys first, like your first year of t h p, you guys had a lot of encounters right at dark where you're trying to climb down and get around the deer.

I remember there was one I think you guys might have been, was it Missouri? You were hunting? Where you

Aaron Warbritton: basically we bumped that buck out of a bed. Yeah. The

Josh Raley: day before. Yeah. And then next night he came right out and it was

Aaron Warbritton: just same bed a little bit too. Oh, same day. So just a little bit too dark? No.

Different day. Same bed. Same bed. Okay. We bumped him out of a bed. We got up there and inspected it, went hunted a different location. Then went in there the following day with completely different wind direction and the same buck got up outta the same be area. And he came straight out. Yeah. And that he's a good case study too, cuz he got up before dark.

Josh Raley: And how far was [00:49:00] he when he stood up from you

Aaron Warbritton: guys? 150.

Josh Raley: And it got closing time before he got to you? Yep. You

Aaron Warbritton: just, yeah. I was literally at the base of the tree and he was walking by the tree in 15 yards eating acorns. That

Josh Raley: is crazy that just shows how much you really do, how aggressive.

You really do have

Aaron Warbritton: to be special in those. Oh yeah. If you're set up, I walk by three fresh scrapes on the way in there to hunt that evening, and three or four fresh rubs. If we did not know where that bedding was at and we set up on that sign, we would've never saw him, man. We'd never saw him, or we would've spooked him climbing down.

Yeah. Yeah. So that's why I say that scouting those bedding areas is first and foremost and scouting 'em from the inside out. Cuz right now as you get outta jail free card, you can go in there and you can blow that thing up, scout it all the way through, and then get out of there. And then you have all of that intel to go off of next fall.

Maybe you're finding trees along or brush piles or whatever along those exit trails right [00:50:00] now that might serve as good setups. And when you go into the vet area, you're looking at the individual beds and there's usually gobs of 'em. There's a lot of people think, whoa, I found a buck bed, so I'm just gonna hunt over it.

That's, that's a one in a million type of a deal. Yeah. But if you go into the vet area in general, there may be 30 or 40 beds in it, and you may start to see some pattern in the way that deer are bedding within that bedding area. And then you can put yourself at a safe distance. Away from it on those exits where you can get close enough to kill 'em during the daylight, but just far enough away that you ain't gonna spook 'em while you're getting set up.

Yep, yep.

Josh Raley: There it is. Ladies and gentlemen. Aaron Warbritton says, go do your summer scouting. Yeah, get

Aaron Warbritton: out there and do it. Don't worry that if you don't know the bedding, if you don't know that the area that you're going to and you don't know it that well, this is gonna save you so much time.

Because you brought up that stage area example a minute ago or that stage hunting example. Yep. If we don't know the area, [00:51:00] it may take us three or four days to stage hunt all the way in there. Or we may go in there and have a much higher chance of bumping 'em because we don't know exactly where it's at.

Yep, yep.

Josh Raley: So what, last question then. What's your number one piece of advice for folks? Maybe they're going into a new spot and hey, if you. If you haven't hunted a specific piece of land, now's the time to get in there on it, right? Go ahead, do the hard work. Now get into the bedding area, scope it out.

What would your

Aaron Warbritton: top piece of advice be for

Josh Raley: the guy who's like, all right, I'm gonna, I'm gonna skip fishing for a Saturday morning, and I'm, I am gonna go do some scouting. What's your number one thing? Where, what are you gonna tell

Aaron Warbritton: that guy to do? I would cover as many of those areas as you possibly can.

I would try to set up your day so that you could be as efficient with your time as possible. And what I mean by that is draw out on a map on the areas that you want to check. Don't waste time in between them. Literally it, and that's another thing. If you've got one area in the back of a public piece that's two and a half miles in that [00:52:00] you really will really want look at.

Find three or four more smaller ones on your route in and out of there that you can check, because if you walk all the way in there, check the one and then walk all the way out. You've just burned up half of your day and you've looked at one bedding area. Yep. Granted, it might be the best looking one to you on the map, but like we've discussed, you don't know exactly where he's going to be when you go in there to hunt him.

And if that's all the intel that you have is that one area, then you're severely limited. But if you can efficiently scout four or five of 'em in that same period of time, then you've got more intel to go off of when it comes time to go in and speed scout and hunt in the fall. And there's a lot of different ways to do that.

You can do that. You can do that with a vehicle, you can do that with boots, you can do it with a bike, you can do it with a boat canoe, whatever. But that's my main face of advice. If you're gonna summer scout, I would. Go in, burn it [00:53:00] up. Do all of your scouting in a specific area in one day and try to cover as much ground as possible.


Josh Raley: Good stuff. Good stuff. Man, thanks for your time today. I appreciate you. Coming on talking summer scouting. What maybe what's one thing you're looking forward to most? You got a tag that's just burning a hole in your pocket already

Aaron Warbritton: for this fall? Yeah, I got a tag for out west bee hunting around home a good bit.

I'm getting ready to move actually. I've lived in the same house in southern Iowa for 11 years now, and we just got another place about half an hour down the road that's real close to some public land that we hunt. Very nice. So I'm getting ready to move down there and that will put us way closer to some of the spots that we hunt.

And I should be able to do more scouting. Very good, this year versus other years in the past. So hopefully that will yield little better success this time around. We'll see.

Josh Raley: Good deal. Aaron, thanks for your time, man. Appreciate you coming on. Why don't you if there's somebody listening to this podcast they know of t h p in your [00:54:00] YouTube channel, but in case there's somebody who doesn't, where can folks find more

Aaron Warbritton: from you?

All things the hunting public, all on social and YouTube and Amazon, Facebook, even TikTok Now. TikTok, Ted's all. Ted's all

Josh Raley: fired up about this TikTok. Oh man's, check it out. I need you doing some dances on there.

Aaron Warbritton: Gotta see it. Maybe one of these days.

Josh Raley: All right, man. Thanks for your time.

Aaron Warbritton: No problem. Have a good one.

You too, buddy.