It’s never too late to scout for deer, and it’s never too early to look for turkey sign. That’s the feeling of some of the more dedicated hunters for both species, and February is prime time for doing both.
Drew Reeser of Blythewood has been in the woods recently looking for sign of both game species. He named six important reasons why hunters need to be in the woods now, looking for both deer and turkey sign.
“The primary reasons for looking for deer sign are two-fold,” Reeser said. “First, is to get an idea of what type of numbers of deer made it thought he season on the land you hunt. You can do this by simply looking for tracks in wet areas, and those are plentiful right now. Plus, if you are continuing to bait, you can still sit in the stand with a camera and see what you have.
Another reason for scouting is to see what big bucks made it through the season.
“Most hunters take down their trail cameras after the season ends, but if you capture photos of deer now, the odds are good those deer will be in that same area during the late-season portion of the 2015 season,” he said. “If you get a big buck on camera now, you’ll know he’s likely to be around next season, plus, you’ll know his general core area when not in the rut.”
Reeser said that with all the vegetation gone, you can really see the layout of the woods.
“Habitat changes over time, and this impacts both species,” he said. “It may be the time to re-evaluate deer-stand locations and make the changes while you can see the woods so well. You can take advantage of subtle changes in topography now to put odds in your favor. Also, you can look for wooded areas that are growing into good turkey habitat, but getting too open for prime deer bedding areas. We’re seeing areas where turkeys are beginning to show up where we didn’t see them in the past, and habitat change is one reason.
“Another key is to focus on turkey sign,” he said. “Granted, turkeys may change locations by the time the hunting season gets here, but we’re only (six) weeks from the early season opening. Right now, we’ll see fresh turkey tracks, or by slipping through the woods as we check food plots, (we’ll) often see turkeys feeding.
“With the leaves gone, it’s also easier to find turkey scratching and roosting areas and identify active locations,” he said. “It’s not too late to plant winter strips of food plots to have some fresh greenery for the turkeys. That can go a long way to keeping them in your area.”
Reeser said another important aspect is just learning more about the woods you hunt and staying fresh on the subtle changes that occur – or major changes such as timber thinning harvests or clear-cuts.
“I just enjoy being outdoors and in the woods,” he said. “But doing things that will help both my upcoming turkey season and next season’s deer hunting just makes it better.”