One of my favorite times of the year is right now. We’re in the final moments of preparation leading up to whitetail season. Depending on where you hunt, deer season could be opening up within the next few weeks to a month. And right now is probably the best time of year to be glassing, going through trail camera data and learning from velvet bucks. When it comes to scouting and learning from velvet bucks, there are certainly some misconceptions out there and knowing what to take away from information you uncover could be a leading reason on whether or not you ultimately fill a tag this upcoming season.
How To Scout Velvet Bucks
When it comes to scouting velvet bucks, I’ve found two tried and true ways to figuring out as much as possible about bucks during the summer. The first is through trail cameras. Trail cameras are a great tool to utilize throughout the year, but during the summer, they can be especially helpful. Running cameras on food sources, over water, on mineral sites, food plots or over creek crossings can be great areas to have trail cameras during the summer months. I like to keep all of my trail camera pictures of bucks in separate folders and label them by the month. It’s a good way to stay organized and when it comes to learning from the data you gather, it’ll help tremendously.
Another way to scout velvet bucks that I love to put to use is through long distance observation, otherwise known as “glassing.” Glassing can be useful for a litany of reasons, which we will cover in the next section. Before trying to understand what you can learn from glassing, let’s first cover how to do it effectively. There are two main ways that I like to put glassing to use.
Watch a Specific Area
The first way I like to put glassing to use is to be watching a specific area. When doing so, I like to sit typically on the edge of a bean field (or any other type of food source) and watch secluded areas of the food sources where bucks are most likely to visit in daylight.
In a perfect world, I’ll be sitting back at least 500-700 yards from where I expect deer to be and I’ll be utilizing a spotting scope. A spotting scope is a major tool to use, because it allows you to observe at a distance far enough from where you expect deer to be without worry of spooking them.
Another way I like to glass or observe from a distance is by cruising backroads, looking for deer, and then making a plan from there. For instance, I’ll dedicate specific evenings to driving backroads and looking for deer and if I spot a nice buck, or a bunch of deer in a field that looks like it could be a good area for hunting, I’ll then try and get permission on it if it’s private land, or I’ll make note of it and return to hang a trail camera or two if it’s on public land.
It’s a great way to explore new areas and try to widen your net on properties you can hunt. Just as it is for watching a specific area, a spotting scope is a necessity, and I’ll have it attached to a window mount, that way if there is something I want to check out, I can attach the spotting scope to my window and glass right from my truck.
What Can You Learn from Velvet Bucks?
Once you’ve figured out how to successfully find and scout velvet bucks in the summer, the next step is understanding the information you find out and figuring out what you should be finding to be important and what not to be as important. For me, and what I’ve found to help me the most is to break it up into two categories once again. When it comes to learning from them, the two things I focus on most is inventory and early season hunting.
We’ll touch on inventory first. There is arguably no better time of the year to be seeing bucks, and especially mature bucks on their feet in daylight than during the summer. By getting out and scouting these bucks and through trail camera data, you can get an idea of what’s in the area. You must realize though, that many bucks (not all) will shift their home ranges once they shed their velvet. That doesn’t mean scouting them is a waste of time. By knowing what’s in an area, you can start to get a feel for the potential around and if there is a big buck you fancy, if he does shift his home range in the fall, you’ll know he’s around somewhere and can try to find him in the coming months.
If you are scouting velvet bucks in a state you can hunt early in September (or even August in a few states) then you can actually use the information you learn from scouting to help you get in position to actually send an arrow through a buck. For instance, I hunt every year the first week of September in North Dakota, and during this time of year, I try and add up as much of the information I learn from velvet scouting and trail cameras to help me get a stand or blind in the exact right spot. If you can pin down a buck’s pattern, you’ve got a fighting chance of getting him in front of you before he shifts into his fall pattern/range.
When it comes to velvet bucks, it can be easy to get overly worked up, especially if you’ve laid eyes on a giant. When it comes down to it, take in the information you learn, stay level headed about it, and try to figure out how what you learn can help you in the coming months.