Earlier this month I went on a very long walk to complete some spring scouting 2020 tasks. First, I wanted to walk the new main trails that were created over the last couple of years. With the strong storms we’ve had there have been a lot of trees that fell down. Those trees generally fell right over the old main trails.
Within the first couple of minutes, I was face to face with a deer. We had a good minute or two of watching each other before it bounded off in to the wetlands. I kept following the trails and soon came upon my first find.
Spring Scouting 2020: Dead Deer Found
It didn’t take me very long to stumble across a deer skull. To me, it looked to be the size of a fawn head. A short distance away I found some more bones. It was clear that the deer had died right around there. My guess was from a coyote. I kept walking, hoping to get across the creek in order to scout along the tree line that went out in to the wetland. Unfortunately, the creek was too high from the rain the night before.
Once I realized I wasn’t getting across the creek that way, I turned around to walk the edges looking for another way across. Within 100 yards of the creek (which is where I found the first dead deer) I found a huge pile of hair. At first I was confused because it was really just a massive pile of hair. The bones ended up being about 10 yards away from there. It was an entire skeleton minus the skull. Because of that, I’m not sure if it was a buck or a doe. I am really hoping that it’s not the buck that I got on film late in the season that was limping.
The deer may have been poached, killed by coyotes, or died some other way. After some investigating and searching, I could not find a skull or obvious cause of death. No matter what the cause, I guessed that someone else had run across the dead deer before I had and that it was in fact a buck. Since the skull was gone, it must have been a decent one.
The Buck Bedding Areas
There were 3 different buck bedding spots that I found. 2 by complete chance and 1 that I was specifically going to confirm based on my areal scouting.
The one I wanted to confirm was exactly where I thought I would find it. That is where I believe the biggest/oldest buck in the area beds. It was a lone bed and the very tip of where the tree line gave way to the wetland area. Surrounded by 10 foot high cattails and swampy water, there is no way a predator is getting close to this bed without the buck knowing. there were 3 trails leading to the bed. One went straight in to the cattails, one leading back down the tree line, and the final one leading out in to the wetland in the opposite direction as the first. Of the 3 buck bedding areas, this was the only one that had zero rubs. If I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for (including the bed itself), i would have walked right past it and never known.
The other 2 buck bedding areas were out in the middle of the wetland in small patches of trees. I found them in areas I wasn’t even planning on scouting because it was not able to be seen from the areal view I based my plan on. In fact, the only reason I ended up seeing these 2 areas was because I wasn’t able to cross the creek where I wanted to. Within these 2 patches, I found at least 20 rubbed trees. The entire area was flat dirt which made it difficult to find a specific bed. There were historical rubs, fresh rubs, and blatantly obvious entry and exit trails.
Spring Scouting 2020 Conclusion
Overall, I learned a lot. The biggest thing I learned was that I do have bucks that bed very close to the property edge (I can’t hunt the wetland as it’s county forest preserve land). In fact, I can make those bucks filter through my land pretty easily. The only thing I will have to do is get permission from the land owner to kill off some of the grass and put in a small food plot with a food plot screen so the deer remain hidden.
A smaller but just as important reminder of a lessen is that you cannot just go off of areal scouting. Areal scouting is a very important step but there will always be more that you will see when you actually have boots on the ground. You HAVE to walk it.
Check out the video below for the footage of this scouting mission.