View Full Version : best time to scout for deer and elk.

Roger L
06-24-2012, 08:06 AM
Can anyone give me advice on the best time of year to scout for deer and elk? I have tags for both species in area 71 and 72 late season. I am anxious to go sooner rather than later, but I suspect where I find deer now will not be their location in October. Not so sure on the elk.

06-24-2012, 12:17 PM
In general, dawn is an excellent time to scout, if for no other reason than you have the benefit of remaining daylight to look for bedded deer if nothing else. Dusk can produce great movement, too, but it a closing window as I often saw during my years chasing whitetails. Dusk would often bring great numbers, but you may only have a solid 15 minutes of daylight to see them depending on the time of year.

Roger L
06-25-2012, 10:35 AM
Thanks for the reply, but I am looking for info on the best time of year to scout. I suspect it's better the closer you get to the season, but I was looking for some feed back on early scouting for deer.

06-25-2012, 11:45 AM
There are three books I have been reading recently. Hunting high Country Mule Deer by Mike Eastman, Public Land Mulies by David Long, andThe complete Guide to Mule deer Hunting bySam Curtis. I believe any of the three authors would tell you to scout as much as you can and anytime you can. Western deer usually migrate and this is my situation. I have a tag for early november and the place I will be hunting will be waiting on the migration deer to arrive. It is 1200 miles from my home in Arkansas but I have already scouted by windshield once and on google nightly. There are some deer there now but I have't made any effort to see them. I think that a good buck in the area would have been poached by now anyway.
I like spring scouting best because you can sometime see deer in their migration, snow will have them blocked as it melts away. Summer is usually too hot and deer will be bedded shortly after daylight. I am hoping to be in my hunting area several days before opening season. If I can locate and get to see a buck that I want I will try to find his bedding area and his feeding area plus his escape routes. That said I will try to be back for another look in July/Aug.

My brother and I have done this kind of scouting recently in Nebraska and two years ago we were tagged out by 7;30 am. We were three air miles apart and 10 miles by road. These were just tag getters but the scouting was what made the hunt. My brother had made a shooting blind 250 yards from where he expected his deer to appear and other hunter (late arrivals) stopped to ask permission to go behind him for their hunt. I was at the edge of private property and when the deer returned to their bedding area they came by me while crossing the private property. I had to wait until the deer jumped two fences to be on public land and legal.
Your,"best time to scout" may depend on migration, weather, and time of season. I doubt the rutt wil influence scouting.

06-25-2012, 12:39 PM
Thanks for the reply, but I am looking for info on the best time of year to scout. I suspect it's better the closer you get to the season, but I was looking for some feed back on early scouting for deer.

Sorry about that - my brain must've fizzled out when I read your post.

At any rate, the books that xtreme listed are a great place to start and I agree that scouting should start immediately and run as long as you can during the offseason no matter what. If nothing else, you learn the lay of the land. That said, I did a late spring/early summer scouting trip of my own about a week and a half ago. Here's the thread:


Keep in mind, I am completely new to mule deer hunting, but I have hunted whitetails before and have seen the fuits of successful scouting more than once. However, as xtreme stated, these deer do migrate and the guy who took me scouting hammered home the fact that the area in that thread will hold a lot more deer closer to the season. If you want a most accurate time to see actual numbers in your area, barring a major weather change, it sounds like two weeks out from your season opener is the time to really pick your spot.

06-25-2012, 01:15 PM
For your late season hunts the deer will be in the rut and pretty much all deer that you have spotted wil be on the move. I generally will scout a new area during the archery season a few times to get a lay of the land and look for bachelor groups. Then I will go back during the first gun season to do the same thing and see if the deer have moved in or out and what kind of hunting pressure in going on. Then I would go about 3-4 days before your opener late season to get in some more scoutting to locate deer, see how the snow levels are and find a good place to camp. If the rut is on like Donkey Kong then get to a high advantage and look for any animals chances are the males will be there. If you see a good one and pass chances are you won't find them again.

Get the books! So much info for beginner Mule Deer hunters and Elk

Good luck. I haven't ever been in those areas before my self so I ant give you any starting points but I always call the biologist for some araes to look.

Roger L
06-25-2012, 09:11 PM
thank you all for the advice on early season scouting. I'll scout early and often in order to learn the area (I was drawn in 1986 so I have some idea). I have Mike Eastman's book, I'll pick up the others.