It’s 10 am on crisp January morning and I’m taking my two favorite hunters, my daughters Amanda and Trisha, on one of Dad’s infamous ‘scouting’ walks. As a busy dad, its always a challenge to find time to spend with the girls thats not running to soccer games or glaring at a potential suitor as my daughter heads out to a football game with her latest hopeful. But these mornings are a little peace of heaven…..beautiful clear skies, a unique kind of quiet, and a crisp fresh temperature that makes us all enthusiastic as we begin our day. Armed with our hand pruners and saw, we take to the trail. The girls are quite seasoned at this by now…I’ve been dragging them out to do this with me for years and fortunately for their old Dad, they are still willing to go along.
At this time of the year I make a decision. If I still have a tag, the family trip is off the agenda (sorry girls!) Instead I’m out on my own looking for fresh tracks. In that case, tromping the girls through the woods is not necessarily in my best interest. I make sure I’m out the first or second day after a fresh snow and my day is a slow and meticulous process. I’m looking through optics every 15 steps, trying to find signs of recent activity. No detail is to small. My hand pruners are important here because I’m trying to make sure that I quickly eliminate any briars that might potentially be in my way of a stalk, giving off a sound that would cause a deer to spook. After identifying rubs, bedding areas, and fresh tracks, I’ve got my game plan for my next hunting day out.
If I’ve had the good fortune to be tagged out, the scouting after a fresh snow takes on a whole new meaning. This is when I have the luxury of thinking about next year. The key things to investigate are 1) where are they bedding, 2) where are they eating, 3) how are they moving to and from, and 4) how can I make this more fun for my girls? This is a great time to trim exit and entrance routes. If your not hunting, spooking a deer is not big deal. If you find a large thicket that leads to a bedding area, pull out the hand saw and carve a larger entrance to make your life easier next season. If you’re doing your walk in the latter part of the season, this is a perfect time to look for sheds—- always a kid pleaser. Who could imagine that an antler half covered in snow could be that interesting to teenage girls? If it works, don’t question it.
–Donnie Wilson / Ohio
Wicked Tree Gear ProStaff