Public land Deer Scouting and Hunting in Pennsylvania
The dog days of summer are here. Hot temperatures and humidity have most people wanting to stay inside and stay cool. These days, however, are when deer hunting success, this fall, can be earned. Having success while deer hunting on public land in Pennsylvania does not come easy. PA has lots of hunters, so you will be up against the competition. But, for those who decide they want to put in some hard work during these summer days, some amazing hunting opportunities are available. The hunters you know or see being successful during the fall are often they ones that put in hours of work during the summer to put the odds in their favor during the fall. Follow these tips this summer for scouting whitetails on public land here in the keystone state.
- Utilize maps before physically scouting
Whether you use a GPS, map, topo map, phone app, or google earth, utilize it before going there in person to scout. This is how you can “scout from the computer.” Look at topography of the area. Look for potential feeding fields, ridges, river bottoms, access trails, parking areas, funnels, pinch points, and whatever else you can find. Doing these things ahead of time can save you so much time and energy. Learn as much about the piece you plan to scout, before you even step foot on it. This will put you ahead of the game when you do go to scout the area.
2. Get away from pressure
This probably sounds familiar, but it is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Most deer in general, but especially smart deer, will avoid areas that have the most human pressure. This is where using your maps to mark parking areas and access trails becomes even more important. When you mark those things on a map, you can start to narrow down areas that are going to be the hardest to access. Cross off areas that look like they are easy to get to and popular for hunters. Look for those back corners, overlooked spots, and hardest to reach places. The less pressure it gets from other hunters, the better chance you will have at seeing deer there during daylight.
3. Scout for bedding
When you go to scout a piece of public land, one of the most important things to do is identify where the deer in the area are bedding. Yes, it is important to find feeding areas, trails, benches, funnels, and pinch points, but the number one thing to find is bedding areas. Successful public land hunters are usually the ones that are hunting closest to where the deer bed. Deer on public land probably won’t move far from their bedding areas during daylight. Hunting as close to that bedding as possible, without being detected, will give you the best opportunity to get a shot during legal shooting hours.
4. Use trail cams as an extra tool, not your replacement for scouting.
Trail cameras are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. I can’t stress enough how useful they can be when they are used right. They can do some work for you while you are not even there. They can teach hunters what caliber of deer are in an area, how many deer are in an area, the times of day they are moving through a certain area, and the list could go on. There are so many benefits. All that being said, it is important to not let trail cameras actually replace the importance of physically scouting an area. Trail cameras will never tell hunters the full story. Hunters need to know where bedding is, where travel routes are, where feeding areas are, and everything else about the areas surrounding their trail cameras or hunting areas. Don’t simply walk into the woods, set up a few trail cams, and walk back out without learning anything about the area.
5. More is better
When it comes to public land deer scouting in the summer, the more you scout, the better your chances will be. There are certain situations on private land, or when scouting or hunting during the fall where overkill will have a negative effect. But during these summer days get out there and hit it hard. The season is still a couple months away, so get out there and learn as much as you can now, before hunting season comes. Don’t just go out in November hoping to get lucky, get out there now and earn your fall success right here in August!