What gear to bring with me while scouting is a loaded question. There are so many options and new ones hitting the market every year. It’s hard to really say what is crucial and what is border line. You first need to start where you are comfortable. Some scouting is done with your legs and some scouting can be done by your eyes. We will outline our top choices and what gear to bring when scouting for deer.
Optics reign supreme when looking for critters or that special buck to hunt in the fall. I used to walk all over the mountains and look with my feet. I felt like I need to work for my trophy physically, but in reality, planning out your trip prior will save you from a frustrating trip and feeling lost on where to isolate your energy on the mountain. Finding vantage points that covers several feeding areas and also transitions to heavier bedding areas are prime locations to start glassing.
Spotting scopes are expensive and not for everyone. But I guarantee if you get one and learn to utilize it properly. You will not be disappointed in the least. Good glass and tripod will help you cover 10x what your legs will cover without disturbing the animals in their summer range. It takes a little practice how to use a spotter effectively. It’s all in the details. Learn to imagine the size of the deer at the given distance your looking. Look small and look slow as you scan the hillside.
The deer will not always be out in the open feeding. In fact, most big mature bucks tend to stay away from open areas in the daytime. I also recommend the best binoculars you can afford. The trick to glassing with bino’s is to find a comfortable and stay position to scan. The more you move and shake the harder and more difficult it will be to find the animals painted on the hillside.
Trail Cameras are my next recommendation for gear to bring on your scouting trip. These are highly debated but one of the best methods to find an elusive bachelor group of bucks. Cameras in today’s age are built to last for a year or more on a single set of batteries. They can take some incredible pictures along with video clips. If you have a location that gets a cell signal you can also have pics sent to you all day and night. The most effective locations are along routes from feeding to bedding or close to their bedding area. If water is scares and no running creeks, then a water pond will definitely get you some pics.
Be warned in this case you probably not the only one to know about the water source. Leaving cameras there even with a bear cage can be risky. Always face your camera north or south if possible. Facing your lens to the East or West can cause the sun to set off the camera. It never fails the big boy will show up during these times and you have to use forensics to isolate the image from the sun’s rays. Another tip is to make sure there are no branches or weeds that can set off the motion sensor more than desired. There is nothing more frustrating than walking way into a camera only to skim through thousands of moving weed pics on your memory card.
A GPS unit or Mobile off grid app are essential to scouting. These digital products allow you to create a game play book of your hunting area. After you are familiar with your GPS features, you can start marking trails, glassing points, water holes, rubs and really pinpoint areas to consecrate your efforts scouting. They also can be lifesaving if you’re not familiar with the area. Walking out in the dark in an unfamiliar area can be sketchy. I like to use Onxmaps on my phone. It has layering options to really isolate key features, share waypoints, and saves me having to buy a GPS unit. Plus I can use my phone with my spotting scope and record my adventure with my Phoneskope adapter. Another important piece in my arsenal. Saving images can really help you dial in the size of the trophy you’re looking at.
The last 2 items I recommend is a friend or group of friends to enjoy your time off grid. It makes the time on the mountain more enjoyable. Also is great from a safety standpoint. Someone to share trip with is something I cherish more as I get farther down the road of life. Extra sets of eyes can find something missed by another. If you’re lucky enough you can also talk them into packing the food. Food to sustain your journey is often overlooked.
Hiking at higher elevation and packing extra weight will cause you to burn more calories than anticipated. Keeping up your stamina can be the difference between staying on point glassing a few extra minutes to climbing over the next peak to see what’s been hiding there. This is exactly why we designed our food line. I wanted light, well balanced, premium, great tasting calories that’s simple to bring and use. How you feel when hiking and scouting can be the difference from bragging about a velvet buck your chasing to going home without finishing your goal on the mountain.