The Scoutless Hunting Method
A few years ago, I was hunting out in Colorado. After having no luck down in the southern portion of the state we decided to head up to the White River National Forrest. We were on our heels because we had not researched the area. Long story short, we did a detailed map study, picked a spot, and killed a bull. This got me thinking. Could I employ this same strategy while chasing whitetail bucks? It turns out you absolutely can, and it’s a great strategy for the mid-season when deer habits change with the season.
After some trial and error employment, I’ve broken this strategy down to a few simple steps on how to employ what I’ve coined as the Scoutless hunting method:
The synopsis of the tactic is simple. You are going to look at a map, pick out a spot and hunt it for one afternoon. You keep jumping spot to spot every day until you figure out where the deer are in your area. It’s great for mid-season when the habits of the deer have change. It’s also great for people that just don’t have time to scout during the pre-season because it is essentially a hybrid hunting/scouting tactic.
Map study. This is probably the biggest key to success for this tactic. I’m not going to dive deep into using topo and aerial maps for scouting because its covered in the article “How to Maximize Your Scouting Time.” That article will break down what you are looking for on the topo map. Focus on funnels, East to West running ridges that likely have acorns on one side and bedding on the other, the first bench off of a ridge line, or benches on a finger.
Hunt afternoons. Aside from your map study you are going in blind, so focus your efforts to the afternoon. This will allow you to better observe your surrounds when you go to set up. It will also ensure that you have suitable shooting lanes. It also allows you to do the next step.
Wander around a bit. This is my favorite part of this strategy. Since I only have a general idea of where I am going, I don’t feel the need to get anywhere. This is relieving, it allows you to better take in your surroundings and truly observe the sign. Many times I will find a spot before I even get to where I picked out on the map.
Hop from spot to spot. When using the Scoutless hunting method I rarely hunt the same spot twice. Instead, I will sit a night. Possibly notice some activity in the distance, move there the next day, and so on. It’s kind of like a successive bracketing. Eventually you really start to dial in where the deer are moving.
Have your gear squared away. I use a climber or a tree saddle when using this tactic. You might cover more ground than you normally would before you find a spot worthy of one of your precious archery afternoons, so bring food and water. Lastly, depending on how far you end up, it might be difficult to recover your deer. To mitigate this, I go in with the plan of harvesting the meat in the field. This allows you to go a bit further without worrying about dragging a buck out of the woods.
It turns out this is an excellent mid-season strategy. You will find spots you otherwise would have never been to. I’ve even stumbled in to some of my best rut spots using this tactic. It’s a great way to stay excited and engaged during the most mentally draining part of the year. Don’t let the mid-season lull get you down. For a full article on this part of the season check out “How to Overcome the Mid-Season Lull.”