As our very own shaman posted on another thread......."No poop, no deer!"
Now, the essence of this statement pretty well sums up what the main criteria is for deer.........EATING. Whenever you observe a deer in a certain location there's a specific reason for it. It's not just by chance.
Soooo........for most scouting, what you need to do is figure out what they are eating and when. Do that, and then you can figure out the where and when you need to be there.
So yes, you need to be able map your ground. But you also need to be able to identify the plants that grow on our ground. Get yourself a good field guide to trees and other plants for your area. At the very MINIMUM you need to be able to differentiate bewteen white oaks and red oaks. What the annual mast crop is has a very significant effect on where deer will be in early autumn.
What plant ID will also tell you is what state of plant community succession your woods is in. A woods may LOOK the same year after year, but it's not. Like everything else in the naural world it's in a constant, albeit subtle, state of change.
Dramatic changes like a fire or massive storm damage or logging are drop dead obvious and you will immediately see a change in deer behavior as a result, usually for the better (for you) as time goes by. The slower less dramtic changes are the ones that you need to be aware of. These are things like as a forest matures the canopy increases and the resulting increased shade changes the amount and kind of plants that grow in the understory.
This kind of plant knowledge when combined with your knowledge of the soil and terrain can have a very postive benefit for your scouting. For example, a few years ago in Illinois, we had a very dry summer. There was little to no mast to speak of, and the corn was still in the field. No one was seeing deer in the "usual" places. I thought about this and remembered some low lying small basins in some woods on the ground I hunt, and went there and noticed some mushrooms growing so there must be moisture there. I looked closer and there was also....DEER POOP!!! Further investigation also showed some trailing and other sign. Now this was an area where we'd never seen sign like that before.
Bottom line.......find out where the dining room is and then figure out where that is in relation to the bedroom and you've got it down.
Offer No Apologies.....
NRA Endowment Life Member