Don’t prepare too much for archery season

If you are just beginning to think about starting your preseason scouting for archery season, you may be a little late. Some experts I have talked to about this tell me that they start in June to track a trophy buck.

These addicted archers forgo ballgames, picnics, family reunions and such lesser activities all summer long to spend every available minute in the woods. I wonder how they avoid divorce court with such a stringent schedule. Most of us have to find a happy medium on scouting for good bucks in the summer.

Bob Foulkrod, nationally-known hunter and a Pennsylvanian told me that he believes good preseason scouting is a foundation for success. You and I think of summer scouting as being spotlighting fields at night to locate bucks. “By early summer I have spent the winter past walking woods trails to see where the tracks and droppings are to get a general idea where to start concentrating my efforts,” Foulkrod said. “Finding antler shed during the winter is one of the best indications of where to start your scouting for a good buck.

“Then from spring to late summer I too spend lots of time spotting in the areas where I had located the best deer sign during the winter,” Foulkrod explained. “By August I am sneaking into areas where I have pinpointed as where the biggest bucks are to just sit silently and watch. I do not spook the bucks, just observe.

“Every hunter fantasizes about bagging that huge trophy but realistically, most hunters won’t be able to take a trophy because they haven’t put in the time scouting before season. But even if this hunter isn’t going to be able to hunt strictly for a trophy buck, he still needs to do a lot scouting to determine where deer are and the best places to locate his stand,” Foulkrod advised.

Another great trophy buck hunter, perhaps better known in times past is Bob Kirschner. Bob is a well-known hunter in this state and has marketed a line of scents and written books about deer hunting including one called “The Art And Appreciation Of Trophy Bowhunting.” Bob has at least one record-book trophy buck in the records and perhaps more.

Kirschner says that a trophy buck may not necessarily be a record book buck but rather the biggest buck that an area has to offer. He also says that it takes a lot of time for preseason scouting to find out what buck is the biggest one in an area and then to zero in on its habits and patterns.

“Before we can harvest a big buck in any area we have to know he is there, “ Kirschner said. Otherwise it is just luck. I remember one particular buck that I scouted for months before season. I knew exactly where he bedded, exactly where he fed. I understood his movements. Within the first week of season I harvested this buck. I didn’t even wait for the rut to kick in.

I’ve taken as many as five deer in five consecutive years out of one bedding location,” Kirschner confided. Deer will use the same bedding area year after year until the trees get too large then the area will decrease in deer numbers. The important thing is to keep these locations secret.

“Mainly, you are looking for the biggest buck the area has to offer. By the time the archery season opens, I have narrowed my search down to one particular buck that I hunt for. I shoot no deer but that one, “Kirschner said.

Well, most of us simply do not have that kind of time to devote to preseason scouting but there is still much we can do. Spotlighting at night, within legal hours, will reveal good bucks within certain fields or spots. We can mark those in our minds and do what scouting we can by actually tramping around in those areas, looking for sign. Big bucks make heavier, larger tracks in the mud, for instance. Big bucks leave larger piles of droppings. We can find well-used trails that lead from bedding areas to feeding areas.

This year, vegetation is higher and denser than it is in most years because of the never-ending rain. So when scouting, be mindful of insects and also rattlesnakes that may be much harder to spot in the thick grass and vegetation.

Remember too that feeding areas usually change during mid-season when archery hunting starts. When acorns and other mast begin to drop, deer will forsake apple orchards and berry patches to paw after the mast.