In this episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman, Josh talks with Jacob Sklenar about Jacob's approach to map scouting and how that's contributed to his success in the whitetail woods.
Jacob is an engineer by trade, and this definitely shows in his approach to map scouting! He's organized, methodical, and has developed an approach that consistently puts him the the vicinity of big bucks. In this episode, Jacob breaks down his method for map scouting, his summer trail camera strategy, and how he collects every bit of data he can every single time he's in the woods.
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Josh Raley: What is going on everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you by tactic Cam. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State. I'm your host Josh Rayley, and I'm not kidding when I say I think that this episode is one of the most [00:01:00] informative deer hunting episodes that I have ever recorded.
I mean, it is up there with some of my favorite like ones with Tony Peterson and Jake Bush and Aaron Warbritton, uh, like just really, really good information. I had a chance to talk with Jacob Lenner from Wisconsin. Now, Jacob has experienced hunting in both Southwest Wisconsin. And in southeast Wisconsin, the dude takes things extremely, extremely seriously.
And one of the reasons I wanted to have him on was because of the way he approaches MAP scouting. I found a couple of his videos on YouTube, on the, uh, on the Hunting Beast. Uh, YouTube page and on his own YouTube page, the wild calling, uh, man, just the way he breaks things down. His approach to map scouting is, I think, gonna be extremely helpful for you, especially if you're like me and you can start to get a little bit lost in the weeds.
Like when I look at a big map, especially with a big chunk of property, I kind of get lost in all of the different things going on. [00:02:00] And he's just got a really great approach for scaling it down and, and finding those areas where mature bucks are gonna hang out. And his success up to this point certainly speaks for itself.
So that's what we're talking about today. So it's a great episode. I really, really hope you enjoy it. I've got links to Jacob's, YouTube and Instagram and Facebook and the show notes of this podcast. Before we get going though, I do just wanna say thanks to our partners. First of all, tactic Camm, the title sponsor of the show.
You hear Jacob talk about it a couple of times in, uh, in this episode. One of the things he loves to do is video, not only his scouting, but also his hunting. And if that's something that you're interested in, I think you should go check out the tactic Camm 6.0 camera. It provides 4K 60 frame per second footage.
Has great image stabilization, does really, really well in low light. It's also got the, uh, small L c D touchscreen on there, which you know, is a huge upgrade from previous models, but it still has a lot of the same features that you have come to love from tactic cam, namely weatherproof housing, and one touch operation.
Head over to tactic cam.com and check that out. Also, check out their [00:03:00] mounts and adapters no matter what you like to do, whether that's hunting with your, uh, bow or with your crossbow or with your rifle or shotgun. Whatever kind of hunting or fishing even you like to do, tica has you covered not only with a camera, but with a mount or adapter to get you squared away.
You can find it all on their website, tica.com. Next up is OnX. Uh, during this podcast, you're gonna hear us talk about OnX quite a bit. Uh, actually on Jacob's YouTube videos, you're gonna see OnX appear quite a bit. The OnX Hunt app is the number one piece of gear that I take with me no matter what I'm doing, whether I'm hunting, hiking, fishing, camping with the family, no matter what.
I'm using the OnX Hunt app. It's a fantastic tool. If you don't have one already, uh, maybe you should go get one before you even listen to this episode because it is all about map scouting. And yeah, there are other tools, Cal Topo, uh, you can use Google Earth, other mapping software, but none of them are as user-friendly.
None of them go with you on your cell [00:04:00] phone, quite like OnX does. Right now, as I'm doing my map scouting this time of year, one of the features that I really like is the two finger distance measurement. As you know, I moved from Wisconsin down to Georgia last year. I'm trying to get familiar with the property and, and the scale of the hill country here, and honestly, I'm having a hard time getting my mind wrapped around it.
But with that feature, I'm able to just, Put my two fingers down and I can tell you whether or not this ridge is, you know, a hundred yards long like it looks to me, and by the highball, or 450 yards long as it actually turns out to be once I measure it. You can learn more about all of their awesome email@example.com, or you can find them on the app store of your choice now.
That's it for the commercials. Let's jump into this week's episode, talking Map scouting with Jacob Linner. Joining me for this episode of the podcast is Jacob Linner from Wisconsin. Jacob, what's going on buddy?
Jacob Sklenar: Hey, man, just, uh, living it up, doing the, the early season grind right now. How are you doing, Josh?
Josh Raley: Oh, doing pretty good. Thanks for taking the time to come on the show. I, [00:05:00] uh, I saw Jake Bush posted something about you the other day, uh, said there was a show coming up and I was like, huh, this looks pretty Wisconsin. So I went and I found some of your videos, um, videos on the Hunting Beast, and you have your own YouTube channel as well.
And I was like, all right, this guy has a really solid approach when it comes to, uh, to map scouting specifically. And man, this time of year map Scouting's my favorite kind of scouting, because as I'm sure you did today, uh, I get out there in the summer and I question my sanity, and I wonder why in the world would I ever do this to myself?
Uh, because it's hot. I think you were out scouting earlier today and, and, uh, also encountered some pretty rough temperatures. So, uh, man, Jacob, why don't you tell us, you know, kick things off. Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you hunt, and you know, how you got to, to where you are today, where you're talking to folks like Jake Bush about deer hunting.
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah. Um, it's, it's pretty wild. I'm kind of still like in disbelief and I'm sure I will be the rest of my life that I'm in this position. But, um, [00:06:00] yeah, so like you said, my name's Jacob Lenner. Um, I'm, uh, right now in southeastern Wisconsin, but I hunted most of my. Most of my more devoted hunting career in southwestern Wisconsin.
Cause I went to school at UW Plattville. Um, I wrestled my entire life. I wrestled at UW Plattville and um, I was a mechanical engineer, so I now am a mechanical engineer professionally. Um, and I am just absolutely obsessed with deer hunting. Um, there is nothing that I could possibly pick out in this entire world that I'd wanna do more every single day.
And that has coupled really well with the wrestling mentality of earning everything and working really hard. And, um, the engineering mindset of looking at everything very analytically and trying to discover trends, patterns, and kind of make an equation out of your hunting and figure out a way to solve it that ends up in a mature buck down on public land.
So I'm absolutely torn up with, uh, hunting 'em specifically on public land. Cause I feel like it's the hardest way to do it. I love challenging [00:07:00] myself and figuring out who I really am through it. And that led me to following the Hunting Beast quite a bit with Dan Infa. I reached out to Dan quite a bit, asking him questions and had a very interesting story go down with one of my first and biggest bucks ever happening on public land while I was at school hunting a new property.
And he just asked me, you know, what's the story behind this deer? And I went into it with him and there was a lot of really interesting adversity and it ended up being my first video with the Hunting Beast. And Dan interviewed me and you could go see that there if you like. It's called, um, when the Going Gets tough, that Jacobs Glens story.
But a lot of bad things happened to me essentially, and I kind of rose to the occasion as I'd been trained to do my whole life in wrestling and ended up triumphing, I guess you could call it, over, over these challenges and getting a really nice buck on some public land. And, uh, that's actually the one over my shoulder here, right [00:08:00] there.
Oh, nice. Um, yeah, my most memorable kill for sure. But I was just absolutely obsessed with hunting and, and certainly that was the bug that bit me even harder was, was killing that deer. And eventually I just kept doing my thing and, and making videos and, and asking questions the same way that I asked Dan.
I would ask questions and get to know some of the guys in the industry. And going to shows with the hunting beasts always helps like crazy cuz you start to get to know people that are other vendors at shows. And that's kind of how I got to know Jake is asking him a few questions and he would pick my mind about things.
I would pick his mind about things and, um, he kind of realized the way that I am analytical about this stuff. And I think that podcast was a bit of an eyeopener for him. You know, it just happened last week and, um, Talked to him about my process and there was a good few minutes after the call that he was like, dude, I had no idea that you were this in depth mentally.
And it was really kind of a starstruck moment for me, uh, to hear such a [00:09:00] killer like him Yeah. Talking in that way about me. But yeah, it, it's, it's just like I never would've expected to be this guy that hops on podcasts. I was always the one grinding and listening to them myself and practicing everything and getting as analytical as possible.
And that's pretty much how everyone is really in the dis industry. That's either, I'm sure you know, Josh, a host or someone that gets to hop on these things or someone that gets to make videos is we were just guys obsessed with something and we kept nailing this topic into the ground and trying to be an expert at it.
And eventually you kind of get recognized for it, you know, whether that be through your own efforts or some discovering you. And that's kinda like how the dream gets realized, I guess. And I know you're kind of achieving that dream right now too, yourself. Yeah. Cha
Josh Raley: chasing it anyway. We're chasing it. So, uh, and, and unfortunately I've chased it all the way to Georgia at this point, but, uh, you know, Wisconsin is, is, uh, has a special place in my heart.
I, [00:10:00] you know, one of the reasons that I didn't wanna let go of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast. One, we had built a community of people like I, you know, the people of, of that I know the, the network of friendships and stuff that I've built from the podcast. Uh, I, I, I didn't wanna walk away from that obviously.
Uh, but I also knew that I would be hunting in Wisconsin as much and potentially more now that I don't live there, which sounds a little bit crazy, but my day job when I was there demanded so much. Like I would go, I. I mean, I would go weeks during a deer season where I didn't hunt like I would hunt, like opening day, and then maybe like the opener of pheasant season, I'd be able to get out because that's the day that I would never miss.
And then I would hunt again during the rut and then maybe once during late season. And that was pretty much it, you know? Whereas last year, I think I hunted 17 days in Wisconsin, which, you know, blew the previous year out of the water. Uh, and that's just for deer, not, not, not even counting turkeys. So, uh, yeah, so I'm chasing it, but, [00:11:00] uh, yeah, not, not quite there yet.
It's a big,
Jacob Sklenar: it's a big step in the right direction though. I, I get it fired up about every little thing that allows me to put more time into
Josh Raley: it, so, oh man. Absolutely. This has certainly afforded me that. But, uh, man, one of the things, so I haven't listened to the show with Jake yet, and there's, there's a reason for that.
I saw him like post, like, Hey, this, this episode is coming up. And I was like, okay, that dude's from Wisconsin, so I. I want to talk to him. So I went and checked out your videos and I was like, oh, okay. This dude's like really serious and really methodical about the way he breaks down properties for, you know, doing map scouting.
I was like, this is the guy that I, that I want to talk to, and I didn't want our conversation today to be influenced by Yeah. What I heard somewhere else. Because I mean, I, I know what the, you know, the, before the Echo podcast, that's kinda like their whole, their whole thing, right? We're not just echoing the same thing that's going around, you know, everywhere else, right.
On these shows. And, uh, man, that's a, that struggle is real. Like, if you've heard somebody on another show talk about a topic, [00:12:00] it's, I don't know, it just happens. It's like it seeps its way in there. You're not trying to copy somebody else or ask them about the same thing, but mm-hmm. You, you go and you, you, I don't know.
It just, it, it ends up heading that direction anyway.
Jacob Sklenar: Right. You just hear so many good points and, and you derive some value from things like that where it relates to a specific situation you were in. And that's the whole point of these shows, right? Like yeah, we try to, we try to figure, figure out the specific situations, you know, selfishly or not that we are in or that we've seen cuz we know that could relate to our audience.
And then when you nail those points or you hear someone nail it, that's like the one thing you wanna gravitate to is like the whole thing with passing on hunting. It's the same kind of analogy, is like you want to see those events that got you obsessed turned back on, or the things that brought value to your life turned back to your audience or to your friend or to someone that you're bringing into the sport.
And so when you catch that glimpse of an epiphany, you want to have people discover that same thing. Yep. So when you listen to another podcasts, it's hard not to reiterate those [00:13:00] points that you find a lot of value in because. That's what you want to pass on is a lot of value. Yeah, absolutely. I
Josh Raley: think, I think one of the best things that I've done as somebody in the, in the podcasting space is to just stop listening to other podcasts.
Um, and a lot of that happened just cuz I don't have time, you know, I'm just, I'm so, I'm, I'm, so, it's an easy transition man. I'm, I'm in the content world all the time when I'm, when I'm not doing that. Like, I listen to podcasts, but it's like true crime or something, you know, something else, something not hunting related.
I'm trying to get out of that world for, for just a little bit. But man, so you're an engineer, which totally explains why you approach scouting the way that you do. So I'm fired up about that. Uh, but I wonder, are you a, are you a gear junkie? Like, I don't really associate the Hunting Beast crowd, uh, With Gear Junkies.
I mean, they're more, I don't know. There are a couple different forums out there. One of them I know is like the Gear Junkie crowd, and the other one I know is like the crowd of deer killers. So, um, not to, not [00:14:00] to be flipping about it, but just, you know, that's kind of where they're at. So are you a gear junkie too, though, when it comes to your, your engineering mindset?
Are you a tinkerer?
Jacob Sklenar: So yes and no. I'm an aspiring gear junkie with a budget problem right now. Ah, there it is. Go home. Yeah. So with the recent graduation, it's, it's trying now I am getting paid. I have money for stuff, but I'm pinching pennies like crazy cuz I know I gotta afford a lot of new things. Like I just got a new truck and stuff.
So I'm trying to make sure I can afford any emergencies that come up cuz I also have inherently bad luck when it comes to vehicles and other stuff. Ah, okay. But, um, yeah, so I, I love looking into the specs of things, so like, especially trail cameras, I like looking into, I'm actually gonna release the video coming up here, testing all my old batteries and seeing if I can squeeze more juice out of them.
So like the whole hunting base is oriented to. No one product, you need to kill a deer. Like you don't need a product essentially to kill a deer. Yep. But there's a lot of things that really help you out, and there's a lot of ways that [00:15:00] you can use them that can really help. So I'm obsessed with making every bit of my dollars count, because I don't have a whole lot of them.
Mm-hmm. And that comes to scrutinizing my gear like crazy. And anytime that I make an investment, I make sure it's worth the dollars that I spend. So, like, of course I'm a hunting, be skier as far as sticks and Stan go. But I've experimented with a whole bunch of different trail cameras. I bought all sorts of weird Asian brand trail cameras to like, you know, wanting to buy us stuff.
And then I go into different things, like different backpacks and clothings and I'm, I'm just trying out osseo gear. Uh, for instance, this year I'm really excited to use their late season jacket. Um, but I, I love my gear. Um, I'm just, Part of me is pretty glad I have a budget restriction cause I'd just be buying so much stuff if I could go ham with gear right now.
Josh Raley: sure. For sure. Yeah. That's a man, that's a rabbit hole that like, I don't know, like, there will be times like periods where I'm like, whoa, I just spent way too much money on gear, so I need to, I need to rein it in, but then I'll [00:16:00] go, you know, two or three years where I don't buy anything. You know, maybe some new arrows and that's about it.
But, um, man, I'm curious, it's being a good beer
Jacob Sklenar: junkie too, is like that you buy something that's lasting two to three years. Like Yeah, that's the way I was with like my waiters for instance. I, I did so much research on waiters, bought a really good pair of waiters and like, they last me forever. It's like how I want my stand to work and stuff like that is just making a good investment.
And there's a difference between, you know, being obsessed with buying stuff and being obsessed with buying the right stuff. You know? So it's good that you're going a a period of time without. Reinvesting a bunch of money.
Josh Raley: Yeah. And I, I think, you know, my, my goal is e every, everything has to make me more efficient at what I do.
Mm-hmm. Um, you know, I, I always joke like, I don't have, I don't have a lot of either of these two things, but I certainly have more money than I have time. Um, yeah. So when it comes to hunting, I have to maximize the time that I have. Like if I've got two weeks, let's say, I can't go and have, you know, a [00:17:00] platform break on me or a stick break on me while I'm out hunting because boy, that drastically changes the rest of my plans.
I mean, my, my ration, two years ago, I ended up shooting my buck from a broken saddle platform. Um, it broke that morning. If I hadn't shot a buck that morning, I don't know what I was gonna do for the rest of the time. Like, wow, I sold all my tree stands. I don't, I didn't have another platform at the time. I mean, I could, I could make some other things work, but like mm-hmm.
I was not happy. Right. So, like, yeah. I realize with the way I hunt, I can't afford that kind of, of mishap, so everything's gotta do its job. It's gotta do it. Well, and, and I need to be really efficient about it. But, um, but I was just wondering though, when you said you're an engineer, I'm like, okay, I wonder if he's gone down the rabbit hole yet when it comes to gear.
So, um, so you're a, you're, you're, you're a B stand, B sticks kind of guy. Um mm-hmm. Have you tried out saddle hunting or are you, are you on the antisa hunting crowd or are you of the Uh, I just haven't done it yet. [00:18:00]
Jacob Sklenar: So I haven't done it yet. Okay. Um, I, I can't say I'll ever be anti-anything hunting, uh, just because like I feel like we're all on the same team when it comes down to it.
Sure. You know, we got enough people like rooting against us as a whole rather than needing us to like infight essentially. Oh yeah. Yeah. But, but yeah, like there's plenty of people, especially like guys that are super, you know, tree stand oriented or mobile hunt sticks and stand kind of oriented that are anti saddle and like, I've never tried it.
Um, I'd certainly like to try it at some point just because like, it's a tool, like a hammer, a drill would be, you know, you can use it well in some situations. Um, and I really would like to try it for gun hunting potentially, cuz I feel like using that tree as a rest would be really interesting. Mm-hmm. Um, and I'm really good friends with Randall Eric, and he is a killer in a saddle and he's a giant dude.
So like, there's no, there's no like, you know, Restriction in my mind that I think my size would be against it or something like that. [00:19:00] I just wonder how it would work in a lot of the setups I have where I'm weaving between branches and stuff like that. But, uh, it's a really interesting thing and I'm always looking to improve my gear and improve my game.
So if it could make me more efficient, you know, like you said, your gear should make you more efficient, that's something I'd certainly be open to. Sure. Although you probably shouldn't let Dan hear me saying that because he'll probably, he'll probably cut my leg off or something. Yeah,
Josh Raley: man, I was, I forget there was a, there was a shirt at one point that was floating around on the, on the, I think it was on the Beast Forum, the Hunting Beast Forum.
Mm-hmm. Uh, about saddle hunting and I can't remember, I can't remember the, the funny, like the joke on it, but,
Jacob Sklenar: um, Anyway, he's made so many goofy ones. Yeah. Like he, uh, he put out a joke ad like, don't we on your boots? Because like, oh yeah, yeah. That's what, yeah, he did that. Yeah. Cuz he was like, someone was hunting out of a saddle and he was like, Dan, I gotta pee.
What do I do? And so like, the guy was facing his boots and Yeah. It's just like goofy stuff. You know, Dan, like, he, he puts a lot of goofy stuff out there, but For sure.
Josh Raley: Yeah. That was good. That was [00:20:00] good. So, uh, man, you mentioned R Eric when I think Rendell Eric, I think early season hunting. So, yeah. I, I want to stop here for a second before we get into like the meat and potatoes of the discussion and say, if you had to, had to describe like your style of hunting, uh, what would it be?
And I, so I say that from a perspective of like, there are guys that are like, man, early season's my thing. There are guys that are like ruts my thing, others late season. Uh, then other, you know, even within that you break it down like, Hey, I'm super aggressive on betting, like I'm hunting. Early season, a specific bed.
Then other guys are like, well, I'm, I'm not hunting a specific bed necessarily. I'm hunting bedding areas, and, you know, still early season. So tell me about kind of your, your specific style.
Jacob Sklenar: So it's, it's interesting. I think like my style's like always evolving. Um, I've been. I've had a lot of success early season without actually putting a deer on the ground in it.
So like I've had a lot of close encounters with really big bucks, or I've had bucks that were just on the edge [00:21:00] of me wanting to shoot like last year. And I'll get them on video and I'll just get all this great video and it won't be, it'll be just too small or like I'll get one that's, I couldn't get quite on video and I could have killed, but you know, it was a great one and I just ended up killing it.
So I'm an aspiring early season killer. I really want to get that specific buck in the right situation in early season. I think marshes are gonna start to change that a little bit. Um, but I, I love how ex, how much of an expert you gotta be at your quarry when you're like, when you're killing 'em in the early season.
Cuz you really gotta know what they're doing. They're not, you're not catching 'em on a dough or something like that, but at the same time, I do a lot of patterning, doze as well, and I know right when those doughs come into heat. So like for instance, last year, uh, I had do in heat on October 18th and October 20th, I had bucks grunting and chasing 'em.
Got all that on video again, little bit too small of a deer for me when that happened, but, um, I was just, [00:22:00] you know, I, I love every point in the season for its own reasons and I'm doing everything I can. Like you're, like you'll see here is just tracking all of my successful encounters, tracking anything that was very close to a successful encounter to make sure that I am good whenever it is.
And I use a lot of historical data and stuff like that to track it. But I'd say my best time of season is probably that gap between October 15th to. Maybe the 26th is, or maybe the 27th. But that's, that's like my favorite time to be hunting 'em because they're still near their areas and they're starting transition with those, they're moving a little bit more.
Most of my kills have been in that gap, but I really, really do want to get early season down. I feel like I've been so close last few years. It's just a matter of time now.
Josh Raley: Yeah, man. When you said early, like aspiring early season killer, I'm like, man, I felt that deep. Cause like that has been, that has been my goal as well.
Like, I mean, who doesn't want to kill a buck early? First of all, right? Like [00:23:00] right when the weather is nice and it's, you know, early fall, just beautiful in Wisconsin. Oh yeah. Um, but dude, I just mess it up, man. I, I bump 'em out of their beds or, you know, like you said, they're just, they're just out of shooting range, you know, they come through at 45 and mm-hmm.
You know, it just, you, you do. So I've done, I've done really well at figuring out where they're at typically in early season. Mm-hmm. But man, getting 'em killed is a much more difficult thing, I feel like. Yeah. Uh, when it comes to those early season deer, like
Jacob Sklenar: just super, I killed one, like a hundred inch, nine point, um, really early on, and that was opening day of the season actually.
But I, I don't really think I knew what I was doing. I think I got lucky and I had a, I checked a trail camera the night before and the buck ended up doing the exact same thing as he did the day before and it was opening morning. Um, and so, It was weird when I killed that deer, I was like, wait, that's my season.
I was like, wait, wait, wait. My season's over. Go back. And so I've done it, but I haven't done it on something like super mature un public. So I was like, [00:24:00] I, I don't really count that as like, I had this buck pattern and I was on him specifically. And, and I also wanna add, like, I feel like I would be really good during that peak up period, but I've just not have a ta I don't have a tag by the time.
Yeah, that early November rolls around usually. So like last year I was kicking myself because I had this, it, it's a beautiful like nine point 150 inch buck. And I was on him like crazy last year. I ended up getting, once I pulled all my cameras, 260 pictures, I think of this buck. Wow. Um, I had him bedded all day in one, one set.
I had him checking scrapes habitually. I. And I had a period before gun season where I got him, I kind of narrowed my approach. So I killed a deer and I narrowed my camera spread to figure out where this buck was really at. Cuz it was my last year hunting the hills, cuz I know I was moving back here. And so I had like a six day stretch where I got him on camera moving to and from, and sometimes on multiple cameras [00:25:00] in the same day, like six days in a row.
Wow. And it was just like, I was all over him and I'd tagged out. So I was like, and it was on a smaller buck than him, you know, I didn't shoot 150 inch buck last year, but it was like, man, like part of me wants to get to that point in the season, but by the time I get to October 25th, like I already feel like the season's over on me.
So I'm like trying to get him one on the ground so bad.
Josh Raley: Yeah, man, that's a, that's a part of the season that I just, I haven't hunted that window as much, but I've got some buddies that do really, really well during that. Yeah. That window of time I'm typically like trying to save up brownie points. During that time period, you know, I'm like, ah, I'm not pushing any, I'm, I'm waiting till, you know, Halloween or November 1st, and then I'm gonna hit it real hard, you know?
And, uh, cause I do, I like the, I enjoy the, the chaos of the rut, but, oh, it's great. You know, I think if you, I think if you've done your homework and you kind of have, you know, a buck somewhat nailed down, maybe you [00:26:00] haven't been getting them a lot during daylight, that later October timeframe, if you're familiar with where he likes to call home, you can do really, really well as he starts to, starts to daylight a little bit more.
So, uh, well man, let's talk a little bit about the properties that you hunt, cuz you've spent time in southwest Wisconsin, you've spent time in southeast Wisconsin. Um mm-hmm. You know, te tell me about the different types of terrain and, and I mean, honestly, if we're just, if we're just starting off here, how do you pick your properties?
First of all, one of the things I love about Wisconsin. Is there are a ton of small properties, of small public pieces, you know, all over the place. Like you can find a bunch of them. None of them are real, real big though. Um, and I have found that the hunting pressure is just not consistent at all. Like, you might go to one mm-hmm.
And there'd be 10 guys on it, and then you go to another and you never see anybody there. Um, and it may be very, very different the very next year. So how do you go about picking which of these public pieces [00:27:00] is gonna get your attention?
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah. So that's, that's a tough thing cuz like I can sit there deliberating or debating over and over again like where I'm gonna go.
But, um, first thing for me is like genetics. Especially if, like, if you talk outta state too, this applies quite a bit like even more than Wisconsin cause you have more options. But like genetics, like there's boon and Crockett records. You can obviously look at, there's locals and farmers and stuff like that.
You, you get to know people, especially if you know someone in real estate. That's actually huge. Yeah. If you know someone in real estate, especially people that sell hunting properties, That that's huge. And I actually have some family in real estate. They're extremely local to pwa. But um, I try to get in touch with a few real estate agents cuz that that helps quite a bit.
Uh, there's guide experience, so like if you can just pick a guide's mind or pick, pick their brain about it, sometimes they'll give a little bit of information on what they're seeing and there's all sorts of friends, you know, a friend of a friend, locals, tips, stuff like that. You know, some people talk about hanging out at diners even.
Yeah. You get to know people pretty well. [00:28:00] So those genetics, you can talk to biologists as well. There's a lot of like historical data that those people hold in their personal experience cuz they hunt as well. Like leveraging the dnr, leveraging a biologist, they'll, they'll tell you a lot about what they typically see of deer in a certain area.
And like you said, the same way with pressure. It's the same way with genetics sometimes. Mm-hmm. Sometimes properties get absolutely destroyed or the private next door might get hunted quite a bit and. I can, I, I just remember specifically times where I would move within Grant County and I would have completely different genetics, whether I traveled 40 miles or not.
Um, yeah, so that's one thing I'm looking at right off the bat. And that's not,
Josh Raley: what are some of the, before you get too far into that, what are some of those genetic features? Because I've noticed the same thing, uh, about some of the places where I hunt. I just, I stumbled into some really great genetics when it comes to hunting.
Like I did, I didn't do the homework. I just found a spot that was close and it was just a happy accident. And then I, you know, I'd go over to [00:29:00] people's homes and stuff, and you look at the deer on their wall and it's like, oh, all of our deer look the same. You know, like the Right, just that we're all killing the same shape of rack, the same width of rack, the same size.
What are the, some of the genetic markers that you're looking for when it comes to, to these properties?
Jacob Sklenar: So there are a few things that are really great. Um, about genetics and, and, and a few trends that you can see that will really add to the score of your deer essentially. So there's some places, and I'll try to refrain from naming the regions here, but I'll bleep 'em out
Josh Raley: cause I'm already if I need to,
Jacob Sklenar: right, right.
I'm already thinking of it in my head. But there are some regions that have insane mass. Like yeah, they'll have rounded off points on the antlers. They'll just have masks and you'll see two year olds just start to develop these coke can bases and three year olds. And that's like, that's kind of my number one.
I would love to see that cuz that packs on really quick. But then you got other areas. Um, for instance, everyone knows this and you don't have to bleep this out, but like, Parts of the southern half of Ohio, you'll [00:30:00] start to see a lot of stickers and kickers and whatnot coming out and a whole bunch of your bonus points.
Those things are great. So if you're picking up young sheds and you're starting to seeing stuff growing off the bases or drop tines or stuff like that, those are just great little things to pick up on. So as those bucks mature, even if you're seeing at a young age, which is a lot of the time, how you learn, you start to see those kickers grow or you see someone kill young buck and it's starting to get a lot of mass.
Those are like the things that's like, all right, if these things start to grow up and I can figure out where the big ones are, like that's something beautiful where a lot of Wisconsin has very typical rack type genetics. Yeah. Like you're growing your, your standard eight point, your standard 10 point if, if those lack mass, those are great deer to kill, but they may not be something that's holding that genetic to make them blow up.
You know? Yep. And so the biologists will straight up tell you what the genetics are. Sometimes you can look at the mineral content in the soils too. You can look at a lot of places that are proximity to major river systems [00:31:00] will have a lot of mineral content nearby to them. Or if they have a lot of very successful agriculture, that can help a lot.
So you're really looking at basically, do they have the foundation to grow big? Do they have the food and minerals to support that big growth? And then you're gonna move into your pressure, which is do they have the potential or are they getting killed before they can reach that growth? Cuz I'm sure there's plenty of areas and that could grow really big and could have really good genetics.
But those deer are just getting wiped out by gun drives and open hardwoods and, and they don't have some area that's allowing them to escape that pressure as much. Yeah,
Josh Raley: that, and we talked a little bit about off air there, about um, you know, some of the most beautiful places you can hunt in Wisconsin are in the southwest corner of the state.
Um, yeah. But some of those places can just be wiped out by a couple good gun drives. You know, we did, we, we, we
Jacob Sklenar: were watching some people do drives and we were actually launching a boat for some hard access. [00:32:00] We were bringing the boat back up cuz my brother had killed a really nice buck and um, or nice dough.
It was literally like a giant dough. It was almost 200 pounds. Geez. Like it was. Insane. This thing literally had calluses on its backside from being mated so much over the years. Oh my goodness. Like it was huge. Like a true swamp donkey. But um, so we're pulling this thing up in the little John boat at the launch and we have some guys pull up to the launch and they're in orange and they're asking us how we're doing and they're gawking at the dough we shot and they're like, yeah, we were, we were doing drives and you know, we, we jumped a bunch of deer, we shot nine and we recovered two.
They're like, we found blood off nine of 'em, but we recovered two. And it was like, no wonder like these deer aren't reaching maturity out here cuz this is one group of guys and it wasn't even that big of a group of guys. It was maybe like six or seven guys. And, and they actually drove this dough to my brother, which is why I killed it.
But they ended up swooping back to the launch cuz they heard the boat pull out and they were just saying like, they would put up a bunch of [00:33:00] deer, they would get a piece of a bunch of 'em and they would just die. And so like those guys are punching two tags, but they killed likely seven to nine year.
Yeah. So, Like you're saying, like those areas that get that gun pressure, it really does put a number on 'em. And, and there's a reason that a lot of very successful properties don't drive their properties. It's cuz whether you're having those deer survive when they get off of your property or not, they're probably running right back into something else.
Yeah. And, and that pressure can be a lot to handle, whether it's killing 'em or not immediately. Yeah.
Josh Raley: And a lot, a lot of those spots too, they just simply lack the escape cover. Um, oh yeah. They may have nice pockets of cover, but they don't have, um, what I would consider like, you know, corridors of cover where the deer can sort of remain in the cover, stay hidden and, you know, return to security, whether that's looping around the drive, getting out ahead of the drive, whatever it is.
Mm-hmm. You know, the co the pockets of cover can be so small that they can, they can truly be driven out as opposed Right. To, [00:34:00] you know, skirting the side or squeaking through or something like that. Whereas you get some other parts of the state, central Wisconsin, Southeastern Wisconsin, they have a lot better chance of.
Of, uh, making it, making it through a drive. Yeah. Um, you know, rather than running through a bunch of wide open hardwoods. So,
Jacob Sklenar: um, and I'm not against gun drives or anything. Oh, sure. You know, if you're doing it safety, you know, safely, and I understand there's a rich tradition with it. You know, I do gun drives with Danton, um, and so I'm not against them, but, you know, we all wanna see deer grow to maturity and we all wanna see deer not get injured and, and good ethical shots being put on 'em.
So, and, and sometimes drives are the most effective way to do that in your area. And that's fine. But, you know, it, it is something that does kill a lot of deer and, and sometimes there are negative repercussions to it, but I won't blame anyone that's hunting. You know, like if you're out there and enjoying the woods and, and doing what your family loves and what you love, you know, go for it.
Josh Raley: Sure. Yeah. And I'll, you know, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll go there too. Like, I mean, when it comes to doing a drive, like, yeah man, drive your [00:35:00] property if you want to, like more power to you. If that's how you like to hunt and it's legal, that's great. If your success ratio. Is you're killing and and recovering two of nine.
Mm-hmm. Stop doing gun drives. Go do, go do something else. Like I, I know that's a strong tradition in Wisconsin, but at some point you've gotta say, we're not being responsible. Like, you know, like, and I, and I know that that's probably unpopular. I'm probably gonna get messages about this. They're like, but Josh, you don't understand the culture and the tradition.
Oh, yes, I do. I've driven deer my whole life and we've used dogs that are a lot better at driving deer than, uh, than, than people are and mm-hmm. I, I've, I've been on both sides of it and, uh, yeah. It's just not, just not good if your recovery rate's only, uh, hovering around 20%, so. Right. Just not a good practice.
So anyways. Well, I'll, I'll get off that soap box, man. Let's talk, um, let's talk map scouting now. So you found the spot, actually, let me, let me back up one more step [00:36:00] when it comes to archery pressure, um mm-hmm. Let's say a spot is, you know, let's say you're not even too concerned about whether a spot's gonna be pressured during gun season, cuz you're planning on being out of there on October, you know, 23rd anyway, like you're gonna be tagged out by then.
Right. Um, how important to you is that archery pressure? Because I know for some people in the way that they hunt, they're like, you know what, I don't mind a little bit of pressure. You know, keeps the deer on their toes. Other people are like, man, if there's a person within half a mile of where I want to hunt, I'm going somewhere else because of either the quality of the experience that I want to have or whatever the case may be.
So how mm-hmm. How influential on your decision making process is that pressure?
Jacob Sklenar: So, um, Archery pressure is the, is the world to me because archery's, you know, I, I count my hunt my gun tags most of the time to my meat count, you know, like what I need in meat. I, I can kill a dough during gun season and, and I'm there for the tradition, usually for, for guns.
So, [00:37:00] like archery pressure is, is everything to me, but it is very dependent on where that pressure is reaching and how much of it is, and how big of the property I'm hunting is. So, like, for instance, I try to pick properties that are not in very close proximity to cities if I can, or kind of a far drive from cities.
Josh Raley: is to you, does that, like where do you see that cutoff where you're like, okay, this one, this one's good. So it, it
Jacob Sklenar: depends. It depends where I'm at. And, and I guess you can answer every question in hunting with, it depends, but, um, so like for instance, in, in southwest Wisconsin, I wanted to get away from UW Platteville cuz UW Plattville was a hotbed of people coming from outta state that all wanted to hunt.
You know, so it wasn't a huge city, but UW Platteville was like the mecca of young motivated kids that want to get out and kill something on public land. So, um, and I'm sure people that go to like Stouter or whatever and, and other colleges could attest to that as well. But, um, so I wanted to get away from there, buy at least 30 minutes, let's say.
Okay. And, and [00:38:00] we'll say driving distance now when you get towards Waukesha, Milwaukee, stuff like that, the pressure's even worse. Like there's a lot more people to choose from and they may not be as dedicated hunters, let's say on average. You know, that that's kind of an unfair statement, but there's a lot more people hitting that woods.
So there's a bit of different strategy that you gotta get further away, but there's other ways you can dodge that pressure too. Um, and that's kind of when you go into acreage. So like when, when you get near those big cities and you can't change it. I, whereas like if I was in blo, I would want to find a property far away with a lot of acres so I can continually chase the same deer.
Around here, everyone is flocking to those large acreage properties. Like they're all trying to do that same mindset because they know there's a bunch of people everywhere. They know those people are gonna be a bumped deer as well as they are if they screw something up. So a lot of the times around here, and it's hard for me to say cause I know I'm just inviting people right into my back door, but, um, [00:39:00] small properties adjacent to large properties or M F L C ffl or FCL or VPA land, so like things that don't appear in OnX per se, as the same filter as just your general public.
Any kind of thing that gets overlooked because there's a, either a giant property close to it or people aren't necessarily aware that it's public. Those are the properties I'm finding a lot of success in and it's really great to to, to do that. But when you're on one of those smaller properties, the close to big properties, two hunters means a lot more than if I had two hunters on those giant acreages.
Mm-hmm. And if they're dedicated hunters and I'm seeing that that pressure is intelligent, like I'm walking in the spring and I'm seeing people's boot tracks in spring, or if I'm finding them walking really far back or getting special permission from private to access and, and immediately cut that distance down, that pressure is a much bigger threat to me.
So you kind of have to weigh the pressure on what areas they're encount encountering and how intelligent [00:40:00] are they. So for instance, Western Wisconsin, people would book it right away back. They'd expect those smart people and everyone would try to get back to two, three miles back if they could, if a property allowed for it.
And so there was a golden area, like a quarter mile from the parking lot to a mile from the parking lot that people just weren't hitting cuz they were overlooking it for one reason or the other. Where around here it might be right on top of the parking lot or it's way back there, depending on how intense the pressure is.
Yeah. So, so the number one thing is. How, what is the property like that you're hunting? If it's really small acreage, you gotta be aware of where that pressure's hitting, because if there's two spots on that property that a mature buck is gonna be killable in daylight, you gotta be sure that those two other guys have no idea about it.
Where if you're on a large property, whether it be here or there, and people are just making dumb moves, you know, naturally setting up close to the parking lot cause they don't wanna walk far or they're sitting on that huge rub they see in the middle of an oak flat that a buck's never touched on during daylight, you got less to worry.
There may be more pressure, but you don't have to [00:41:00] worry about it quite as much if you're willing to put in the work because they aren't willing to, you know? Yeah. So it's hard to make a blanket statement on it, but it's generally, are those people tru truly a threat to that property? And is that property vulnerable to that threat?
Like is it way too small or is it way too obvious for the d r and stuff like that? Yeah.
Josh Raley: When it comes to this pressure, we, you just mentioned something that, that I've been toying with. So I went through a phase in my hunting career where. Uh, I was the guy, like, I'm going to the back of this property. I don't care where the back of the property is or what's on the back of the property, I'm going to the back of it.
And Right. Uh, you know, it, it was because I'm trying to get away from the pressure, right? Like, I'm trying to outwork everyone and I will never forget, uh, I was hunting in, in South Louisiana at the time, so, you know, sketchy, there's snakes, there's alligators. It is just not cool to walk through this stuff in the dark, right?
So I get all the way to the back of the property, I've walked like a mile and a quarter in, it's as far as you can be from the access of this property. [00:42:00] And I start to climb a tree in this little Savannah area and I hear a voice say, you're dead up on my stand, dude, in a Cajun accent. And I was like, what?
Like, and I stopped and I looked around. I mean, it took me so long to get back there. Cause I mean, you're waiting through water and everything, you know, I, it took me so long to get back there. I just, I just stopped and looked around and kind of held my hands up like this. Like, where are you at? You know?
And turned out the guy was on the private. Right across the line, I mean, just across the property line. And I was like, right. Dang, I did all that work to get in here and, and found that out. But in, in the time since then, I've been trying to hit this, what I feel like is the sweet spot, right? Like, you get past the folks who don't wanna walk very far or mm-hmm.
You know, in their mind, well, I'm only here for a quick hunt, so I'm just gonna go, you know, a couple hundred yards and sit down or whatever. Right? But I'm also not going all the way to the back either, because that's where, you know, that's where Jacob Lins are going, uh, you know? Right. So I don't, I don't wanna be back there because, you [00:43:00] know, that's where, that's where those folks who think they need to get way back in there, I'm trying to get this little bubble in the middle that seems like it's missing that pressure.
Um, yeah. You know, and then it, it seems like once I find that pressure bubble, like wherever the pressure stops and before the pressure begins again. Mm-hmm. I don't have to go very far past where, you know, let's say that quarter mile from the parking lot, half mile from the parking lot pressure. I feel like you don't have to go very far past that.
What have you seen, like mm-hmm. If you're competing with folks who are, you know, four tenths of a mile from the parking lot, uh, how far past that four tenths of a mile mark are you getting before you're really starting to find predictable daylight movement?
Jacob Sklenar: So, yeah. It, it's, um, and I'm gonna bring back the old saying it depends again, but, um, it's, it's, uh, right, right.
And so that's the hard part with hunting is like, you don't wanna give anyone Absolutely. Like you give, you give everyone like your experience. Yep. And, um, you hope they can take something from it, but it, it will depend on what property you're on. But the number one thing that [00:44:00] I'm obsessed with is breaking it down and making it consistent for people that they can take something away from the information.
So when I'm in hills, let's say, and this is where I'll, I'll break down the devil's advocate scenario. When I'm in hills, it's exactly how you describe, like, it starts to get very predictable in that in between range. And, you know, it depends on which properties, the difficulty of access and such. When I'm in marshes it might be completely different.
Yeah. Because that first quarter mile might be absolute hell to get through of water and stuff so that that half mile in might be the hardest place to get to. Yeah. Whereas if someone took their their hardwoods route, they can get two miles back no problem. So it's like sometimes the farthest back you can get isn't very far.
Mm-hmm. I would say the two things that create those bubbles of untouched areas are difficulty of access and then distance. So you'll see this, I'm sure you've seen it a lot, is you get up that parking lot and you got one mean ridge to get up right away, or you [00:45:00] gotta cross a deep ditch and you gotta go back up another ridge.
And that might be a really short distance, but. Once you clear that obstacle or once you make that water access, or once you get through that hell of a marsh, that's where it's golden. It's like you get through that one obstacle that sets this area apart from the other ones and makes it unique. That's when you start to find the deer that are set apart from the other ones and are unique.
So a lot of the times, and I can think about properties, I'm, I hunt in, uh, southwestern Wisconsin, straight uphill, right away you work to the top. And a lot of people were like, okay, I did my hard stuff for the day. I went up this hill, it sucked, but you know, I'm here. Me and a buddy would go further. We'd go down a deep dish and up a hill and we like never saw anyone.
Whereas we would run into people all the time if they just took one difficult task. So again, it depends on the motivation of the people you're with, uh, that you're competing with and what they're willing to do. But you'll figure that out when, you know, when you get your boots on the ground, you notice where boot tracks are.
You [00:46:00] notice where climber mark are. You notice where people are illegally. Leaving tree stands up or they have flagging tape or you see cat eyes and stuff like that. That's where you reach just outside of that and you're, you're starting to get in the zone. Yeah. The interesting thing is that doesn't mean that's always where the deer sign is gonna blow up.
A lot of the time, those deer are still alive in that area because they're not advertising to everyone where that is. Mm-hmm. And I feel like that's where people get caught up, either not going far or going way too far, is because that's a lot of the time where the feeding can occur. And so those bucks are making monster sign at night in those areas.
And that's just where they're getting the hunters. And a lot of the time they're betting in areas that they're just not getting touched and they're not making a lot of sign in those areas because there's not a lot of competition. Whereas all the deer culminate under that food source maybe at night. So like when I talked about that one buck in the later season with you, that.
Was just a stud of a of a nine point. [00:47:00] He didn't make any sign in his beds. He would only make sign in areas that a lot of hunters would culminate, but he made that sign at night. Or just absolute peak rut. So if I had any chance of getting this deer either got really lucky at peak rut with not having another hunter and the same place that he's leaving big sign, or I truly targeted him in areas where he's not making any sign, but I know he is living because he found a way to get away from that pressure.
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And to make sure I don't miss any of the action. To learn more and check out their full line of products, head over to their website, tactic am.com and share your hunt with tactic amm. Let's transition and let's assume, all right, you've picked your, your properties, right? You've done a little bit of homework when it comes to, uh, the pressure that you're finding there.
Uh, so you've, you've chosen the ones that meet, you know, your goals when it comes to the amount of pressure that's there. You're like, okay, I can, I can work with this step one for breaking down some, some map scouting, right? Cause we are, we are in June. It's, uh, my goodness, June 26th as we're recording this right now.
Uh, July is just around the corner. I feel like for me, that's kind of go time with cameras. You know, that's, that's when, you know, [00:49:00] I kind of hit the throttle. Um, so it, it's really time to start getting some boots on the ground. But before I go, I want to get out there with a plan and I want it to be a good plan because I've done my homework, you know, using OnX at home.
So what's your first step? You've got your property laid out. How are you gonna break down, uh, the piece according to your, uh, your method for map scouting?
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah, so, and, and just to give a, a rationale for map scouting, cause I know a lot of people don't do it. It's kind of a newer thing that, you know, and you can get by without it.
You can get by without doing anything. You know, you can sit in a rod funnel for seven days straight and you could kill a mature buck. It happens, but it's one more thing you can do to boost your odds, and I'm all about trying to be the most efficient bow hunter I can. You talked about like having restrictions on time and restrictions on money.
Well, This is one way to make your time in the woods that you have so little of more efficient. Yep. So that's why I really like this. It's, it's the thing that helps me write off areas and the number one thing that will keep a big buck out of an area is [00:50:00] people. Mm-hmm. You know, that's the thing they face.
So my first goal is to identify where the people are. So that comes to, and, and we're very lucky in Wisconsin, we actually have excellent mapping resources at our disposal. We have perfect lidar mapping that does two foot contours, and we have Wisconsin DNR that actually puts out really great, um, leaf off imagery and shows you where all the parking lots and such are.
So the first thing I do is actually I hop on that Wisconsin d n r mapping, the public access maps. I turn it to a leaf off imagery and I have it. It can refresh extremely efficiently and show in great detail what it looks like with leaf off. So I'll put OnX on one half of my screen and then I'll put that leaf off imagery on the other half and I'll identify all those areas in that timber or in that marsh that have walking trails.
So a lot of times those walking trails are exactly what hunters use for their access. And I'll mark that stuff in a very standout color. It's like the [00:51:00] aqua color on OnX. Yep. And I just call it aqua for access. It just makes sense to me. So I mark all those parking lots, I mark all the places that trails are reaching, how far back they're going.
I mark those logging trails, whether it be dog walking, horse trails, or, or just a logging area that makes it easy for someone to walk back. And I, I deliberately, brightly mark them all over my maps and that'll do two things. It, it'll tell me where people are and it'll also tell me how I can get in easily to a spot and where Bucks probably wanna monitor.
So some properties you can get way back in there. Walking on a trail the whole time, and that trail might lead across the top of a ridge and be real easy. That's when you'll see it's really easy for people to get back there and they're willing to do that. Then your bubble is occurring in that area in between, just like we talked about your classic hill country example.
Mm-hmm. Where people are just continuing to follow this trail until they reach the end of it, and dear the mature ones specifically are monitoring them coming in where you take 10 steps off that trail, all of a sudden [00:52:00] that buck explodes out of there. Yeah. So the first thing I'm doing is using that leaf off imagery and marking as much trails as possible, and then I'm going to that lidar mapping and using those two foot contours to see maybe a few things that that.
Leaf off imagery didn't really pick up on. Sure.
Josh Raley: So when it, and so when it, go ahead. I, I just want to, to bring up here one thing, uh, and this is totally selfish, because of where I'm at right now, I've got a 30,000 acre chunk of public down the road. Now that's not common in Southwest or southeastern Wisconsin to have 30,000 no continuous acres that you can roam, right?
Uh, so it's a, it's a good problem to have. But when it comes to, you know, let's say you've got a property that's just simply too big to map scout all at once. Mm-hmm. Uh, how are you gonna break it down and prioritize it? Are, are you gonna say, you know what, I'm just gonna one bite at a time. I'm gonna go through and do my whole process on the whole property.
Or are you gonna pick a selection of the property and say, I don't know if there are good bucks here, but this is my spot [00:53:00] for this year, or, this is my, my area of focus for this scouting season.
Jacob Sklenar: You know, that's a, that's a great question. Actually. I have not gotten that question yet and it excites me because that is really important.
I don't get to hunt giant properties super often. Sure. But I've actually ran into that with people asking me to help scout some of their properties. Especially when you get into like Southern us, there's a lot of giant, giant acreage. Mm-hmm. Is there's, there's two kind of schools of thought you can go with there.
You can go with, I know this property has some stellar genetics. I see giant bucks taken outta here. I need to figure out this property through and through. And you can take the approach of one chunk of this thing per year and I'm gonna keep shifting around until I find a chunk that I love. You could do that, or you could immediately try to identify the richest, best deer like habitat chunk that's away from pressure as you could.
So the way I take that is, first I. I do just a general idea of where that pressure's reaching. So like that, that is that leaf off imagery and, and knowing where [00:54:00] trails are, sometimes auto automatically on X will mark trails. So I, I kind of get aware of where the pressure's reaching. Mm-hmm. Because I wanna look through everything and the scope of what are mature bucks doing to avoid the pressure.
Like if there's pressure getting everywhere, the habitat may be fantastic for deer, but the deer are getting killed or they're just not living in maturity in that area, or they're not choosing to live in that area cuz of it. So I'll avoid those naturally. So my first still is pressure, but let's say all things equal, I'm looking for like, Especially in hill country, very diverse ridge systems.
I'm looking for things that have multiple points dropping down in multiple directions, and that will give bucks a wind and visual advantage no matter what wind direction. That's what I really love, when they can associate to an area that allows them to have a whole bunch of advantages, and that goes for your early season, for your rut.
Everything, the way that the wind travels and the way that the thermals travel in areas with diverse ridges, just give bucks so many options that make it really, really hard for them to kill, but it [00:55:00] lets 'em reach maturity because of it. So what that looks like sometimes in flatter land or marsh country is large continuous seas of cattails with diverse islands or transitional cover or things that make it really hard for someone to walk through or target deer through.
I just like what swamps and cattails do for letting bucks get mature. Yeah. It's very hard to kill deer, even with drives in cattails cuz you can't really shoot through 'em. Like you could, you could try shooting through cattails, but like Dan will even talk about it, A bullet won't go 10 yards through cattails.
Mm. Like you could see a deer and, and it would have pretty much no lethal power if you're shooting a bunch of cattails. Wow. So, yeah. And, and it, and that's assuming you can even get that close to a deer in that stuff. Yeah. Because I hear you coming from a mile away. And so I like areas that are conducive to buck surviving.
And in flat country that looks like very difficult to get through stuff like swamps and cattails. And in hill country it looks like diverse ridges [00:56:00] that provide advantages for every kind of wind.
Josh Raley: Gotcha. Okay. All right, man, that, that answers the question. That's really good. So, Um, I've been leaning hard towards the, the, let me, you know, pick select areas, but then mm-hmm.
You know, at least in, in, in, in my plan and in my mind. But then when I go out and try to do some boots on the ground, or when I do sit down to map Scout, I find myself just all over the place, you know? Yeah. And it's like, I would love to whittle it down to say, all right, this 400 acres is my chunk for this year, or this, you know, thousand acres is my chunk for the year.
Um, but I lose sight and get kind of overwhelmed, which I think is one of the reasons that you're sort of methodical approach was, um, was a draw. So, uh, alright, so you're identifying where people are on these properties. That's the, that's the number one thing for you. Right. And even when it comes to, you know, these places that, you know, let's say you had a larger property, you've whittled it down, focusing on where people are, where they, uh, are parking, and then where they're able to access what next.
Jacob Sklenar: So then I start to move towards, um, Factors that would lead to mature buck betting. So here, for instance, our primary wind during the season is west to northwest. So I look for places and I don't know if, if, uh, many people have mentioned leeward sides, I'm, I know you had Aaron war on, so he probably did some kind of mention with that.
But leeward sides are where I find most of my mature bucks. And that is when, um, a buck is betting with his wind coming over the back on, let's say the flatter part of the ridge and he's betting just a little bit down that ridge, let's say the top one third elevation. And that allows the wind to come over his back when the leaves are off, or, you know, whenever he can look downhill and see danger coming from below.
In the early morning, he can get a rising thermal. When that, um, heat is starting to warm up, that ridge scent naturally flows up. So he's actually able to, at some point in the day smell or see below and above him at all times. Yeah. So that's [00:58:00] why leeward sides for the predominant wind, it's, it comes to a numbers game, you know?
Yeah. There's a higher percentage that a buck is in that area because he's just looking for an area with multiple advantages. It's not like he's like, oh, I know this is a leeward side. This is my reason for being here. He's just like, man, I know what's above me. I know what's below me. I don't get caught in these situations.
I'm gonna keep using this situation to survive. And so that's my number one thing is marking those leeward sides for that predominant wind. Yeah.
Josh Raley: So if you had, and then I break it down further, if, if you had a, just, just so folks at home can kind of, I'm, I'm wishing I had like a, like a diagram that I could draw up right now, you know, um, which I'm sure we'll talk about your videos here in just a bit where folks can go and kinda get a little bit of a better understanding.
Um mm-hmm. But if you have a northwest wind, A southeast facing slope is gonna be the leeward side, correct? Correct. Yeah, absolutely. And that but's gonna be looking down to the southeast with the wind coming from the northwest up over the top of the ridge, and he's going to be [00:59:00] on kind of the, the upper third of that.
Um, right, because that gives him the most wind advantage, being able to smell the most of what kind of comes behind him. But then he is also catching thermals as they rise up the hillside.
Jacob Sklenar: Right? Absolutely. And then, and then in the evenings, those thermals start to drop. So a lot of the times you'll see them drop in the evening.
Now that depends on a lot of factors, like where's your food? Is he going towards do or not? But generally in the evening that those thermals drops and he can get scent advantage from going down from the evenings. But yeah, the way you described that is, is a hundred percent spot on. Okay. And where he's, they'll call it a thermal tunnel at times.
Sure. Where those two
Josh Raley: wind currents collide. Sure. So, and yeah, the two wind currents being the thermals and the, the wind kind of hitting each other and, okay. Correct. So you're saying that you often see, and I've, and I've heard, uh, actually had Jake Bush on my other show, and it's one of the things we talked quite a bit about was bucks dropping in the evenings.
Mm-hmm. And I've talked to some other folks who hunt in southwest Wisconsin, where they're like, yeah. Oh yeah. In the evenings they're, they're looking to [01:00:00] drop. Is, is that what you're, that's what you're saying there.
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah. Um, I specifically see that a lot during the rut in, in the later parts of the year.
When those leaves are off, they can see everything below them extremely well. Yeah. And that allows them to have constant monitor on where they're going. Sometimes in the early season with a lot of, uh, at least in my experience in western Wisconsin, a lot of agriculture's on top. A lot of your more fertile oaks are on top.
So what they'll do is they'll side hill, they'll stay on that one third elevation, they'll start to cruise it, and then they'll actually rise. But that's a lot more of an early season pattern. Um, a lot of people are more familiar with that bucks dropping because that's, most of the time that most people are hunting them is during the rut or, or later season.
There's actually a time that me and my brother were in one of those complex ridge systems and we checked a trail camera and saw like a really big buck. And this buck was making a big scrape at night. And we were following his track back and we just kept coming across scrape after scrape after scrape.
And my brother was, he's a [01:01:00] little bit newer to hunting and he was like, why are we not setting up on these scrapes? Like there's fresh deer sign, we saw a giant buck on camera. Why are we not just setting up? And I was like, well you saw him there at night, but I'm gonna like prove to you that we can't set up on these scrapes cuz the buck will know we're here.
So we kept walking and walking and eventually we get to a classic hub scrape and that's where multiple points of a ridge drop down. And in the bottom where those points drop down to, there's a scrape. And the reason that it's so popular is when those thermals drop, a buck can sit in that scraper, in that general drop area and smell what's on top of all those different points and ridges at one time with those thermals kind of culminating in that area.
And that's why BS will often scrape in that area. Um, and so we were approaching it and then about 50 yards away, I said, we'll get to the base of the scrape and I'll kind of point out what's going on and why we can't do it. So we get down to the base of that scrape and I point up to the nearest ridge top.
The leeward side. And I said, you know, if we were to kill that buck or a mature buck that's gonna hit the scrape, he would be sitting right up there watching us. And not [01:02:00] three seconds after I finished that sentence as like a big ass buck, get up probably 50 yards from where I was pointing and run up back and over the ridge.
And I, I'm in shock. He's in shock. He just looks at me like, how did you know that was gonna happen? I was like, it's the classic example, but I had no idea the fuck was actually gonna
Josh Raley: be there this time. It's one of those you're like, wait, did I just call that? Did I just, right. I
Jacob Sklenar: just did. I looked really smart, but I can't take credit for it happening like that every time.
Oh, that sucks. I couldn't even play it off. I was so shocked in the moment. But it, it was great. But um, A lot of the times it's challenging in Wisconsin cuz you don't know necessarily whether they're gonna drop straight down off that point like they do sometimes when ags in the bottom, you don't know what time of year they're gonna start transitioning to that.
Mm-hmm. I would just say it gets a lot more consistently dropping down once you get to mid to late October. Non in through November. Yeah.
Josh Raley: And not, not surprisingly when it comes to, um, to this, you know, looking at a property or taking a p piecing a property apart, let's say you are [01:03:00] mm-hmm. Specifically targeting bedding.
Like, like food is not your top, top concern. You're looking specifically, uh, specifically at the bedding. So, um, all right. So you, you're kind of marking where they're at, you know, in the upper third. What are you seeing when it comes to, uh, southeast Wisconsin where, you know, things are a little bit flatter and you're not, you don't really have the terrain to work with?
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah. So that, that's an interesting case. Um, it, it, it depends heavily on the pressure. Like where can they monitor the pressure? Mm-hmm. A lot of the time I find them in remote bedding, so going through a sea of cattails, small patch of red brush, or a little bit of an oak island, or just an individual tamarack that has a high root ball.
Something that can keep them dry. But is a lot of the times the most mature bucks are in a visual advantage, watching pressure or in a scent advantage for the predominant wind, watching pressures. That means a lot of times they're east of a common access point. Uh, a lot of the time they'll be very far from their food source [01:04:00] actually very far from where they're leaving the sign there.
There's some areas I can think of here that I will check some trees right off of the parking lot that are. Three quarters of a mile away from where I think that Buck's bedding to see if he's actually there, because there's just one long trail that's through a sea of cattails. Then when he gets to the end of that, he just destroys, whether it be like a, a lone seater or a few um, poplars or something like that.
He'll just destroy that stuff and that's when he is in that bedding three quarters of a mile away where a guy may just set up on that sign right there. You know, you'll never see him in daylight there, but he's on some really, really remote stuff that people just aren't getting to. And I think that's the difference sometimes between southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Wisconsin is those hills like people get to pretty much everywhere.
Like they'll touch everywhere. They will overlook areas more than the other. But I think there are some areas in southeastern Wisconsin that not a single boot track is laid. Yeah. If you get to a green enough situation or an overlooked enough situation [01:05:00] that people will just purely not touch it or never be inside of it.
There are some areas that. Like not a single boot track hits, although there may be more people out there hunting. Those areas are kind of the special case scenarios that I, I go and look at specifically. Yeah.
Josh Raley: So your, your hunter pressure is more concentrated on those pieces. Right. You know, when it comes to, you know, lots of, lots of open terrain, man that you just created like a really, a really sad.
Picture in my head of like this guy setting up on that sign, just wasting an evening, three quarters of a mile away from the, from the nearest buck. And he is just, yeah,
Jacob Sklenar: might as well, might as well be at home time. You just gotta walk under him. You wave to him, you say, I'm sorry, you know, if you gotta spare little Debbie, you throw it up to him and make his day a little bit better.
There you go. You, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. You gotta bust in there and, and sometimes you come out and drag that buck back underneath them and sometimes you look like an idiot man Here,
Josh Raley: here's an o oatmeal cream pie for your troubles. Uh, yeah, right. All right. So we are, we, we've, we've found our hunting [01:06:00] pressure and access points and, and where folks are likely going to be.
We've then moved on to the second piece of looking for those features that are gonna lead to big bucks betting there. Um, what's the next step?
Jacob Sklenar: Um, so there's, there's a few approaches and it, it's hard cuz it differs between the hills and the marshes, but, In all scenarios, I look to where those features stack.
So like specifically those features, you know, we were saying complex ridges generally and leeward sides generally, but small bedding. So in hills it looks like small bedding knobs, uh, little benches, reliefs in terrain that make them really unique. Uh, very thick cover. You'll see it all the time in areas with blowdowns, anywhere where they get thermal hubs nearby so they can wind multiple things at one time.
Those are the things that really make a certain area special. Or if they're, you know, let's say down wind of dough, beding down wind of a really thick area that's on top of a ridge downwind of really hot sign that's [01:07:00] indicative of rut sign. Those things kind of add confidence factors. We'll call 'em instead of special features, we can call 'em confidence factors.
I look for areas that boost the confidence that I think a mature buck is using that. And one of them is he's monitoring pressure the same way I am. So if he's on a leeward side and he is downwind of a common human access trail, I think that's actually a boost to me because he's able to monitor where that pressure's coming from.
A lot of the times they don't try to just completely escape pressure. They try to understand where it's coming from so they can avoid it in time where if a person randomly gets to 'em, they may be more vulnerable to, you know, a setup. So I, I take all of those different little confidence factors and I stack them together.
And I may have, let's say, you know, in, in distance, I may have a mile of different ridges that line up leeward, and I may have a, a mile of ridges that are the perfect one-third area. Well, there's only a few hundred yards on that entire property that are like killer, that have all those confidence [01:08:00] factors boosted together and they work well for a certain time of season.
So I stack those together. Where in the marsh what it'll look like is all right. Is he downwind of that access? Is this an area where other deer are betting between him and the, the human access where they'll bump off and scare off? And alert him when pressure's coming. Does he have clear route to food or do I know exactly where he's going and why he's there?
Those confidence factors are what I look for in the marsh, and the more that they stack together, the more I picture mature buck being there. So this is all things that I can start to identify on a map before I actually get a picture of that deer. And you know, sometimes they work out great, sometimes I don't.
But it's up to me then in my boots on the ground scouting to identify was I right? Was I wrong? And then I mark, and this is really kind of what sets me apart from some other people that do ees scouting, is I record, was I right? You know, was I right when I thought all these things were gonna line up and, and they do or don't?
Or was I wrong and why was I wrong? And so a lot of the times what you gain [01:09:00] is, I was right and. Now I know what this looks like on a map in future scenarios. So you start to become a better map scouter as you go because you are able to find out those common scenarios or sometimes you're wrong and you can look out for those misconceptions in the future and you can realize that, oh, this buck is actually getting hunted right here.
I didn't expect 'em to be hunted right Here, you'll scout 60 yards further and then you'll realize that he's just adjusting 60 yards over because of the pressure he is receiving. Yeah. So it's, it's interesting, but you, the, the crucial thing is really figuring out why you were right or wrong and then using that approach when you continue to essc scout or when you continue to boots in the ground scout in the
Josh Raley: future.
Yeah, man, that's a really good step. Um, that asking of why has got to be the number one thing that separates the, the deer hunters from the deer killers that I talk to, right? Yeah. Like, and, and it doesn't just come down to your map scouting and, and you know, why was I right or why was I wrong? It's why about everything.
And so Right man, that, that's like the number [01:10:00] one thing. Like if, if you could teach. One skill to a new deer hunter. It would be the skill of learning. How to ask why. Yeah. Like how to always have that as like a reflex reaction to anything that goes right, anything that goes wrong, whatever the case may be.
Um, man, so, okay. So we're we, we've found the location then that has stacked these confidence factors, let's say. Mm-hmm. Uh, is it time for boots on the ground now or are you, like, how many of these are you going to try to have together so that you're efficient when it's time for boots on the ground?
Jacob Sklenar: So it depends on how the property lays out.
If I have a property that's giving me a lot of these really cool scenarios in a row, I will immediately go boots on the ground. Okay. And the, the way I differ my markings on the. Confidence factor, the high confidence factor areas versus the, Hey, this is possibly good, like I got one. Or let's say I want five things.
Let's say I got one or two factors going together. That's a PO point that if you're physically looking at how I [01:11:00] market an OnX, I market as pink for possible. You know, I got a few things, I got a hint, I got a hint or two. And that's my possible point. And an area a mark that really sticks out to me is the white color.
And so when I have three plus factors that line up together, I'll mark that in white and that's like white hot, you know, I gotta go look at that for sure. And so a lot of the times when I dive into these properties, I got a few ideas of where these access trails are. So I want to kind of use them. I want to use that tracking feature in OnX to to myself, be certain of where these people are traveling.
Cuz sometimes those routes will continue on further than I thought. Mm-hmm. And I want to use that access route and I want to use a more creative route to touch as many of those white points as possible. So I wanna hit them. As much as possible and then catch so much as much of the pink points on the way.
So it's, it's, it's dependent on, let's say I identify a small property that I think is gonna be really good. If there's two points, I know I [01:12:00] gotta check out those two points and it may be a short day for me, but I'm definitely gonna hit those two points and discover what I can along the way. If I got a giant property and I got like a bunch of areas to check out, I'm going to try and rule out some that are maybe misconceptions.
So when I get to areas where I saw Poplar cover or cedars or areas that I think are very likely for a buck to rub, I'm going to use that to qualify whether a buck is actually using that betting area or not. Now I know that can be kind of, um, I can't think of the word right now, but that can kind of go against what I've said before, like sometimes mature bucks, don't leave that sign.
But if I have nine ridges to cover, and I think there's betting at the end of each of those nine ridges, and I don't have time for all that, I might as well use that sign or lack of it to determine whether I should keep pursuing that area or not. Mm-hmm. So I may have nine points that I think I really need to hit, but six of them are showing killer sign, or four of [01:13:00] 'em are showing killer sign.
I'm gonna prioritize my time. So I hit those first and then use my leftover. And what I'll do is I'll do a quick scout first is I'll, I'll touch that area and sometimes it's really obvious like where I need to be set up. Sometimes it's like, all right, here's the bed. There's a clear rub line and a scrape, and I know I want to be hitting that scrape, or I know I want to be hitting his direct, you know, exit route.
And it's just clear this buck is showing me exactly where he needs to be on those quick scouting sessions. Then with all those factors being obvious, I can go ahead and choose a tree, get ready for my setup and stuff. Now, if. I get there and three of those five factors that I thought were gonna be present are true, but I don't have the rest.
I may be like, all right, I don't have time today to truthfully break this down cuz I need to go get to one of the other nine points I'm gonna go look at. So I'll keep in my head and I'll go back another time and then really, really break that down and try to figure out, okay, what is this Buck's weakness?
How can I capitalize on the mistake that he's [01:14:00] gonna be making? How can I find a way to make this buck slip up that he hasn't been doing for all these other people that have been trying to kill him as well? So as far as the number of factors that make me want to go check out a property, it could be as little as one that I think is gonna line up really well.
But you know, I believe that a mature buck is gonna be on this property from the preliminary research I did. So any point is crucial for me to check out. But if I just truthfully don't have the time, I'll prioritize the more promising looking points then others. Okay. If that
Josh Raley: makes sense. Yeah, absolutely.
Absolutely. So, um, Just thinking where we're at in time of year. Right? Like ideally you've done some, some map scouting as soon as you tagged out on November 1st or whenever it was, you know, like, I mean, ideally you're, you're finding the new spots for next year then, so that you can do some winter and early spring scouting.
But fast forward to where we are in June, and here I am with 30,000 acres down the road, right? Like I'm, again, we're, we're, we're moving back into, uh, into [01:15:00] selfish, selfish territory here. Um, your scouting sessions are gonna look a little bit different when the woods are just mm-hmm. As thick as they're going to be, uh, as lush as they're going to be.
The deer sign is as, um, hard to see and find as it's going to be. I mean, a lot of, you know, scrapes aren't even there anymore oftentimes. Um mm-hmm. It'll be really tough to see any licking branches or anything like that. Uh, at least down here in the south, a lot of our rubs have just healed up to the point where they're not gonna be easy to see unless they're mm-hmm.
You know, rubbed repeatedly over, over years and have a lot of scarring. What are, what are you looking for this time of year? If you head in, in, in June, like today when you went in, what, what
Jacob Sklenar: are you looking for? So it's a, it's a difficult thing, uh, especially cuz through the lens of the south with things healing up, growing a lot more times of the year, it can be more difficult.
The hard thing is I'm like, we, like we talked about before, a bed oriented hunter. I, I wouldn't say I always target beds. I look for, for hubs of activity [01:16:00] that kind of come together, whether that be a true thermal hub or that be a lot of sign collating in one area or a hot feed tree or something like that.
I look for areas that concentrate and gimme the best odds for a deer being there in daylight. But that's very hard to identify this time of year. Yeah. So, You know, I want to find those beds, but I know that a deer bedding in a spot right now is probably not gonna be there, you know, most likely come rut or come when I really want to target him.
And I know that that sign's gonna be a lot less obvious. So part of my tactics now is one in inventory trying to get trail cameras out and I will use this to get those more in depth scout sessions. So when I do my preliminary, I'm not certainly sure, I know I wanna get a camera in this area cuz I know it looks promising.
But I also know I got a little bit more to figure out about it. And I know I'm forced to go a lot slower this time of year because of all the green up. What I'll do is I already know where that bed is cuz I went in there speed scouted and identified that bed. Now I'm gonna go back in with that fine tooth comb.
I'm [01:17:00] gonna set that trail camera on that exit route, and I'm just gonna walk super slow. I'm gonna be looking for any kind of tick in a tree that doesn't look like a woodpecker mark, you know? Mm-hmm. And a lot of the times when you're going through thick cover with big antlers, like a buck will, they'll just tap that tree, they'll puncture it, and you'll start to see trends in those trails.
And you'll be able to picture where this buck is traveling, where it's exiting compared to other deer. Now, it's much easier in the season than now, but you can do that. You can look at, um, how that bed sets up now, when the leaves are on versus when it's off. So that'll give you an idea, like maybe, I wasn't sure when that buck is going to be using that area in the season.
So I might get there and see he's on a one third edge, but he can't see three feet in front of him down that hill because it's all of a sudden gotten super thick. Like there's buckthorne going the whole way down that hill. Now I'm like, all right, well, when that buckthorne starts to drop, that's probably when I'm gonna do it or when I'm gonna hunt him.
And so sometimes you have encounters with those bucks. Like today I did, I [01:18:00] got into an area that I saw two scrapes in the, uh, in the spring and there was buck bedding all around it. And I was not sure whether these bucks were gonna be using this little island in the cattails to actually bet on there wasn't a food source on it.
So I, I wasn't sure, cuz I just wasn't seeing bedding sign in the spring. So I was like, maybe they're bedding further on the edge of these cattails and, and you know, in this grass buffer period. So I got there, I, I eased my way up to the scrape it, the licking branch still had a little bit of stuff on it, but you know, that scrapes not obvious like you were saying.
And so I'm sitting there and I'm like, all right, I'm about to set up this camera over this scrape for when that scrape becomes active again, so it can gimme the intel I need. And all of a sudden I hear crashing going through the cattails and that, uh, I, I just kind of crouched down, turn my camera on and out jumps this buck, like through the cattails, literally bounds through to get his chest out.
And walks up to 10 yards and beds down under a shaded tree. Geez. 10 yards from, [01:19:00] and I got this all on video. I actually just finished editing the video. It's gonna go live on Wednesday, but this buck like, and that'll be on the wild calling my channel, but this buck beds down 10 yards for me. And so I'm like, oh my gosh.
Like that's like God slapping me in the face and saying, this is what's really going on here. Yeah. The reason I wasn't seeing that bedding sign there when all the leaves are off and in the spring is because that's not when they were using it. They're using it when those leaves are on. That shades good.
You know, it was 90 degrees here, real field today, 90 degrees straight up. And like they're using it when that's some shaded cover in the middle of this sea of cattails. And then once that shaded cover goes off, they start to move into the cattails a little bit further. And that's why that scrape is sitting there.
It's actually a. A hub scrape in flatland because it's surrounded by buck bedding and these bucks come to survey mark that hubs scrape. And so what's really interesting is like right now that bed, a lot of guys will tell you there's no point in finding a bed right now, [01:20:00] but that buck is probably gonna be doing the same thing on a really, really hot day in September when the food sources are dang near the same cuz the oaks aren't dropping yet.
That's probably when he is gonna be using that area. So actually use that encounter to, I, I, I kind of get crazy about details if you can be shocked by that being an engineer. But I measured the actual length of that bucks bed. You know, I saw mature buck, I might as well know how long it was. It was 48 inches long.
So I'm like, all right, if I see a buck bed that's roughly four feet long, that's a mature buck. I found one of his tracks and I measured one of his tracks. You know when you get a clear track and like some soft dirt? I. You can pick out individual things about a deer's track. Like sometimes these bucks that chase in the hills will have a chip toenail or something.
Mm-hmm. Or they'll have normally long tracks or like they'll there, there's some that have an injured foot and you can find that track. So I keep track of those and I actually use it to like say I'm going into a property and all of a sudden I see that track that I know I'll cross reference and I'm like, last time I saw this track, he was headed right to this [01:21:00] bed and I might switch my plans con like entirely to now target that buck in that bed.
And that's helped me get on a lot of encounters. So like I was able to gain a whole lot of intel this time of year without finding a bed that necessarily he's gonna be in during the rut. I was able to fi figure out, luckily that they're really using this area when there's a lot of shade on and I was able to find out exactly what a mature buck in this brand new property, in this new area, what his track's gonna look like, what the size of his bed is gonna look like, what he might be doing, and a time of year that it's super hot.
So, I'm not necessarily always able to just find a bed that's gonna be hunted this time of year, but I'm still able to get out there and gain a lot of intel and you know, if I wasn't, if that buck didn't run across me, I was gonna set that trail camera there. And you know, yesterday or, or later today, I got pictures of him again when he came back to check my scent from that betting area.
Nice. So, so it's like, you know, they say there's not a lot you can do this time of year cuz there's not a lot of sign, but worst case you can [01:22:00] start getting some of that camera inventory out and you can gain a little bit more details if you really take your time. But I would also add, I'm not writing off any areas.
Yeah. Because of what I see this time of year, like you mentioned, those scrapes are hard to see. Sometimes you can pick out those licking branches, sometimes you can't. Those beds are dang near impossible to see cuz they're completely grown up. Uh, the rubs are very hard to see, so I'm not gonna go in there and be like, oh, I was completely wrong.
What I thought Spring scouting, you know, I'm not gonna touch this area because I know there's stuff that I might be missing, you know, and, and that might not be my fault. It might just be that it's not really there anymore. So there's a lot to gain, but I wouldn't completely write off an area because of something you see.
I think that's when people get kind of caught up. But I think you stand a lot of confidence to gain when you might run across a mature buck. And now I know exactly what that's gonna be like. I just gained a whole lot of confidence from an area that in a time of year that most people would never touch.
Josh Raley: Yeah, man, that's really good. Um, [01:23:00] I especially like the data that you were like, all right, I'm here. Let's collect some of this stuff. Um mm-hmm. And the reason that stands out to me, so the, the buck that I showed you earlier, that's over my shoulder here, uh, that I killed this past year and other bucks that have come off of this same property that.
I've seen a dead mature buck laying there. Their feet are tiny. Mm-hmm. They just have little feet. It's like this weird genetic thing. So if you're scouting this property and you're finding buck tracks, you're gonna see it and be like, that's a two year old. Like, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna stop. It's not nothing exciting, but like you said, stop, measure a track, stop and measure a bed.
Right. It gives you, uh, data against which you can weigh other things that you find, you know, find later on. Mm-hmm. Um, when it comes to the, where you're, where you're placing these cameras, I mean, obviously you're going in, you're gonna rely on those cameras pretty heavily for your summer intel. Is, is like a hubs scrape?
Is that like typically what you're going for, hubs, scrapes, and exit trails from bedding and that kind of stuff? [01:24:00] Or are there other, other pieces of the puzzle? Because, um, I, I was interviewing Tony Peterson one time. And I was, I was like, Hey, Tony, you know, before I, we get off the air here, let me run by, let me run, run you by my, uh, or run by you my summer trail camera strategy and, and tell me what you think, you know.
And I told him, and he was like, I mean, you know, deer like soybeans, right? And I was like, I was like, yeah. He was like, so yeah, put the, put the cameras where you're gonna put 'em, because why would you put any over soybeans? Cause I was like, I think I'm gonna, I think I, I think I heard that. I was like, I'm gonna avoid the soybeans this year.
And he was just like, well, yeah, why would you, like, why would you hang a camera there? Um, and it just made a lot of sense. I was like, yeah, I guess I do know deer like soybeans. Um, so where are you hanging? Yours?
Jacob Sklenar: So it, yeah. I, I hang 'em in a lot of different places. Hubs, scrapes, big one, but they're, they're not always open.
Some of the places I hunt in southwestern Wisconsin, there is, um, what, what do [01:25:00] you call it? Itchy plant. I can't remember. It grows super high in the bottoms there, basically it can grow over your head. Oh,
Josh Raley: oh goodness. I know what you're talking about. I know. I'm trying to think of it. That stuff's terrible.
We always call the burning edge. That stuff's awful.
Jacob Sklenar: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's, it grows super high, super leafy. I cannot understand why I can't. It's It's wood nettle. Yeah. Wood nettle. Yeah. Wood nettle and stinging nettle grow super high in the bottoms. Actually, stinging metal can be a great source of food for the deer.
Gonna, I was gonna say deer eat that stuff. Yeah. That's actually a place that I, I've targeted for, for early season inventory, but there's, there's two general, and that leads right into it. There's two different general different areas that I will hang cameras. All, I guess three, it'll be scrapes. So whether it be a hub scrape or a scrape exiting bedding, I just think that's a great place where you could have five trails running and one of those five trails is a scrape on it, and you immediately boost your odds that a buck's gonna pass that.
So scrapes hopefully in conjunction to bedding, because I care most about bedding and what they're doing. You know, [01:26:00] a scrape in the middle of a top side of a ridge, not near any bedding, they're probably never hitting that in daylight. So it doesn't do me a whole lot, but it can still give you invent inventory.
Mm-hmm. So scrapes are big for me a lot of the time in proximity to bedding. Um, another thing that I will do is exit trails from bedding. You know, whether they have scraped or not, especially with my cell cameras, I will do that to qualify bedding areas and if they're good or not. And sometimes I'll put soak cameras there and if I don't know enough about that bedding area, I'm not confident to hunt it within the year.
I won't touch that camera unless I'm hunting that exit trail. But sometimes I won't touch them the entire year and I'll just gain historical knowledge that'll tell me when to go back into this area and actually go after that buck. In particular for the next year. I'll hang 'em sometimes in bedding areas, but a lot of the times that what I do in this early season, in this preseason that I don't do come the actual hunting season, is food sources like soybeans, stuff like that, soybeans, hot oaks, stinging nettle, any kind [01:27:00] of food source in conjunction to betting, but any food source in general.
I want to get surveys of like, was I right about the genetics on this property? Usually am, but like I. What bucks are around here. This is a rare time of year where, especially in this flatter land, you can get some giant deer far from bedding and you can understand that, that they just exist and it, it may not help you kill them, but it lets you know maybe what area you should probably focus on.
Or you, you learn that maybe that Bucky saw last fall is actually making the shift over here in the summer and you, you get a new idea of where to target 'em in the early season. So surveying areas are fantastic. I don't spend a lot of my, my cell cameras there. I would say my cell cameras I devote to scrapes and exits to bedding because that's where that timely intel is gonna matter in season.
Yep. But I focus a lot of my regular SD card cameras on getting inventory of those deer and determining if there's some monster that makes me want to transition from hunting a [01:28:00] area that a deer is likely to be to where that Deere is supposedly, you know? Yeah. So that, yeah. Serving and then as the.
Pre-season moves on. As the summer moves on, I actually transition off of those areas into maybe a little further off offset. Cause I don't wanna ruin any bedding areas when I'm moving these cameras. Let's say early August, I got all my survey information that I want. Maybe there's a, still a couple food sources that are still hot.
I'll leave those cameras there for more surveying, but then I transition them either to the, the border of bedding or a few exit trails anywhere that I want to get Intel all year long. And the only time I'm ever touching those cameras is if I have high confidence that I should be setting there and I have to cross that camera in order to hunt there.
That's when I'll check those cameras. Gotcha.
Josh Raley: So let me, let me, let me give you a scenario here just kind of as a case study, right? Mm-hmm. If you get, let's say one of these survey cameras, or even one of these, you know, what you thought was like a, an exit trail from a bedding area camera, you're getting pictures of a buck.[01:29:00]
It's in the middle of the night though, and you begin to scout. You know, you've done your scouting, you've, you've done all your map scouting. It's just not lining up like the end. What you're seeing on the camera is not lining up with how he should be behaving or how you would think he would typically be behaving.
So you want to kind of go back to the drawing board. How are you going to approach that scenario? You know, when it comes to returning back to the map or returning to boots on the ground and saying, okay, I gotta figure this out. Like are there any little, little wrinkles in the plan that it's like, okay, when I've had bucks that weren't reading the script as they were supposed to, here's what I did and found success.
Jacob Sklenar: So there's, there's a couple strategies. There's, you can tighten the net that you have with your cameras and try to zone in on 'em within the season. And I usually reserve that too. It's a balls of the wall kind of buck. Like I have to get this buck, I really want to shoot this one. Yeah, I might get super aggressive and kind of tighten that net as long as I'm not over pressuring where I think he's coming from.
But [01:30:00] like I said, it's like you said it, it's already not where I thought he'd be coming from. Now if he's habitually showing up, I, I would say there's a difference. When he's habitually showing up at night, then I'm more confident if he is identifying a specific direction, like say he's always coming west of my camera, traveling east and he's coming and doing that.
Two hours after daylight, I'll start to focus my attention a little bit more to that west. Cuz that's where I think he's getting up from a bed. And in those scenarios, kinda like that buck I was talking to you about. I keep referring back to that nine point. He was betting not traditional one 30, he was kind of lower one.
Lower third, you know, he was, he was lower on that ridge than pretty much every other buck I was seeing on that property. And the reason that was is cuz the one point that he would habitually select for that common wind had a very, very old decrepit logging trail down there. So he had a little manmade bench that no one knew about.
There was no route up to it, it was just this little cut [01:31:00] out of this ridge and he was using that. So I might scour over lidar again if I wasn't looking close enough to try and find those. But you know, sometimes that mapping is just not updated or not available in your area. And one I'll do then is I'll just get back there and boots on the ground and, and sometimes if I get really, really frustrated, like this happened in, um, early season, I actually almost killing the deer.
This happened in early season a couple years ago on one of my videos on the hunting bees. But I actually went into his bed that I knew, you know, he was supposed to come to me on the scrape. He didn't do it. And I went and found his bed, sat in the bed, and. Scoured the surrounding trails for tree taps. And I tracked this buck on little tiny traps, taps on the trees back to an area where I was like, there's no way he was going here during daylight.
He's going straight into a bottom. Like he was going straight into a thick, stinging nettle bottom that was just, you know, leaning into very shallow hills. So he wasn't getting any like wind advantage or thermal advantage. [01:32:00] And I realized there's an apple tree in a creek, like, like 200 yards up, that the apples would culminate at this blowdown when the apples were dropping.
And so he was getting a thermal advantage from the creek. Drawing with the current, but he was just eating the old apples that would culminate where this tree had been sitting in the creek for so long. Wow. And so it took like just getting literally on my hands and knees in an area that I didn't think this buck was gonna be betting and tracking him to figure that out.
And now I busted him outta that area for like, for sure. You know, he's not gonna use that bed for a while, especially if you're in a pressured area. But that's a piece of the puzzle I could use the next year. And that's something that I might know about him that I could, you know, potentially target two weeks later if he's still in the same pattern.
So if it's a special deer, I'll get really, really ballsy and I will literally walk in that area. I don't care if I blow him up during the season. Um, I will get as close as I can and uh, sometimes I'll try and do it at night, like, you know, sometimes I will get as [01:33:00] close to I can, you know, the sun sets that hunt didn't work out and I'll go to exactly where I thought he was.
I'll don't care. I'll use a spotlight like I will. Take advantage of the disturbance I've made in this area. Cause I know he is gonna smell me and I'll gather every piece of intel I possibly can. And sometimes there's just one little thing I was missing, like that old logging trail or that apple tree dropping in the creek, or, you know, sometimes it's a weird thing the thermals are doing, sometimes you don't even figure out why, but you, this sign just tells you why.
And you may have to do something that destroys your chances at him for a little bit to really get that intel, at least for the next season. Mm-hmm. But you know, you could be that guy that's sitting on sign three quarters of a mile away thinking he's hunting that deer and you're just missing some little piece of the puzzle that would really get you that deer in the future.
It's just a matter of, are you gonna be this person that sits back passively and hopes it happens? Or are you gonna be the person that goes out there and makes
Josh Raley: it happen? Yeah. I, I really like what you just described. Um, a lot of folks equate [01:34:00] really aggressive deer hunting strategies with like, You're trying to kill that deer right now.
And so like you've got these two camps where the one camp's like, well, I'm getting all this historical data and I'm building a plan for future years. And then you've got almost like it, that's the opposite of hunting really aggressively. And I like how you've kind of put the two together here. It's like, no, no, I'm still being super aggressive.
Like I'm getting down outta my standing and walking to his bed like, Hey, why didn't you come through here? Um, right. But you're, you're also planning Well, yeah. I may not kill him this year, but he's gonna walk through here at some point and smell. I was here 50 yards from his bed, or 75 yards from his bed.
I might as well take advantage of that. I might as well get, uh, you know, all the intel that I can that way next year. Either he or, or another nice buck if it's a, if it's a spot that puts, you know, that many different things in their favor, um, there's gonna be another buck using that, using that band. Yeah.
And that's probably
Jacob Sklenar: another, that's a great point. Yeah, that's a great point as far as like it being another buck too, cuz like those [01:35:00] bucks die eventually, you know, whether it's by your hand or someone else's. So like, you may never see that buck again, but I guarantee if you found a scenario that lines up perfectly for the best buck in your area to be there in the early season, eventually a great buck or the next best buck in your area is gonna be right there again.
So. Yep. Yep, that's
Josh Raley: right. That's right, man. Any other steps that we didn't cover when it comes to, to map scouting? Uh, I, I think we can put the pieces together in our mind of like, all right, we we're accumulating a bunch of these, uh, spots that we think are white hot. Now it's just time to, to put together the plan, you know, as to when we're gonna hunt them.
Um, but anything else that we didn't get to,
Jacob Sklenar: I wanna stress the point of recording anything successful or unsuccessful. Mm-hmm. I know we touched on it for ESS scouting, your preliminary scouting and stuff like that, but it applies drastically in your encounters. So when that buck is ADR R delay and that sunsets, I, I just think it's crazy that, you know, we all say, [01:36:00] Hey, four finger track, that's awesome.
You know, like there's a big buck, but then we see this buck we've been chasing all year 80 yards away and we just walk out and we never go look at what that, that one buck that you really want to kill. We never look at what his track looked like. Yeah. And you have confirmation on that day that that's what the buck was.
You know, like I go over there and I take a picture of his track and I know that anytime I come up with that track again, I'm on him, like I'm right there. He made that track that day. And so that's a huge confidence booster. The same thing happens with like, Hey, he's traveling wind to tail. Why is he doing that in this situation?
Mm. Or like, I got a picture on the trail camera and, and he's betting on a windward side ridge. I never would've expected that. But he keeps betting here, windward, you know, if you don't go back through that data you had, whether that's a successful encounter where you killed a buck, because again, mature buck's gonna replicate that pattern eventually.
Or, and, you know, they all have different personalities, so that's, you know, nothing's guaranteed. But whether you killed him, he was just outside of range and you know, he's gonna smell you anyways. Or you [01:37:00] know, if you can adjust the next day. Maybe you don't go touch his track or whatever, but you analyze what went right, what went wrong, and then you record it.
So I, I actually made my own little excel graph sheet calculator thing for all of my mature buck encounters and I, I scrutinize it with like wind direction, dew point, temperature. And then I look at precipitation. I look at what time of day, I look at what direction he was traveling, if he was on another camera.
And I look at the departure from the averages of the year. So this was an unusually dry time of year, or unusually wet, or is it usually a lot hotter this time of year, and it was in a cold snap, stuff like that. So I, I scrutinize all that data. That's a little crazy for most people. But, um, and I fully realize how crazy I am, but there's some things you stand to gain if you just kind of record it.
And instead of trying to keep it in the back of your mind, literally write it down. And so there's gonna be, someday you're walking through the woods and you know, you might see that track again. Or you might be like, Hey, this bottom is fricking [01:38:00] cold compared to the rest of this area. And last time I saw this mature buck, he was heading towards the bottom on an unseasonably hot day.
And the same food source is in in action right now as it was last year. And that may be the thing that kind of jogs your memory. You have that epiphany and that's when you decide to change your setup and you kill that deer. So, Especially with your encounters with bucks or your potential successful encounters, you want to record why it was, and then you can start to identify those patterns and make yourself, you know, a more efficient killing machine.
Cuz that's how you start thinking like a deer is you just start to realize what incentives they're doing to make their decisions and then you start making those same incentives with your setups.
Josh Raley: Ma'am, good stuff. Well man, let's make sure that this is not the last time we get you on the show. This has been an awesome conversation.
I feel like I need to go back and like listen to this one so that I can write up all the questions that I have. Um, just because we, we covered so much ground and so much territory, man. Why don't you tell everybody where they can find your content? Cause you've got videos coming out, [01:39:00] uh, on your channel, on YouTube and other stuff.
Jacob Sklenar: first I really appreciate those kind where Josh and I would love to be back on here anytime. I appreciate you having me on tonight. Um, so I, I make videos for the Hunting Beast, so that's kind of my hub, if you will. Is is I. We'll post My Kills on the Hunting Beast first, but all of my content on how to get to that kill, um, the kills themselves, all sorts of stuff with Es scouting, boots on the ground.
Scouting is on my personal channel, the wild calling. And so that's kind of where I do everything. I'll, I'll post, you know, off season content like beau fishing if you're into it, or Turkey hunting and stuff like that. But I'm super whitetail oriented and that's where you're gonna kind of get a deep dive into my mind and probably see a little more of me than you even want to.
Um, so yeah, head on over there. We're on, I'm on Instagram and Facebook as well, but I do most of my stuff on YouTube. I'll just let you know when I post anything on YouTube and then give a little bit of the background on Instagram and Facebook
Josh Raley: as well. Awesome. Well, I'll link all of that in the show notes for this episode if folks wanna go and, and find more.
So, uh, [01:40:00] man, thanks for coming on. Good luck this season, and I'm sure we'll be talking again before, uh, before that September opener rolls
Jacob Sklenar: around. Absolutely. Thank you very much, Josh. Appreciate it. That's all for this week's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcast.
While you're at it, if you could leave me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin
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And until next time, make
Jacob Sklenar: sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours
Josh Raley: as Wisconsin Sportsman.[01:41:00]