Like many deer hunting fanatics, I also like to fish during the spring and summer months when I am not chasing heavy-racked bucks. However, in order to stay on top of your game, it’s extremely important to scout diligently throughout the offseason. This is exactly why I love combining intense whitetail scouting with some carefree fishing. Here’s how I do it.
Study Creeks, Rivers, & Lakes Online
Doing a little homework and studying public-land hunting locations on Google Maps that encompass creeks, rivers and lakes can payoff big during the fall season. This research will enable you to find possible escape routes, feeding areas, natural funnels, bedding locations and travel corridors near the shoreline. After pinpointing potential hotspots, launch a boat and scout these areas while fishing. When you come across pre-selected locations or just a random spot that looks good from the water, take a break from fishing and thoroughly scout the surrounding area. On a side note, you’ll be amazed by the fact that many of these waterfront hotspots are loaded with whitetails and generally receive minimal hunting pressure.
Focus On Overlooked Areas
The best hunting locations are the ones that somehow get overlooked by other hunters. Scouting while fishing is a very productive way to find isolated or secluded areas that are likely to go unnoticed by the masses. For example, one of my favorite big buck honey-holes is a small hardwoods island that is positioned directly between two lake shorelines of national forest land. Most of the hunting pressure comes from the numerous public access roads that are located several miles above the lake. Needless to say, a flood of hunters on opening day inadvertently push deer toward the water and many of the savvy bucks swim to the island for protection. Over the years, I’ve tagged several top-heavy bruisers from this tiny safe-haven without ever being bothered by another hunter.
Pinpoint Hard-To-Reach Locations
For most of us, relentless outside hunting pressure is a major problem that must be dealt with on a daily basis. Let’s face it; the best setup in the world is not that great when at least three other hunters walk directly under your stand right after daylight. On that note, learning to pinpoint and hunt hard-to-reach locations near the water’s edge can definitely be the solution to this problem. The trick is to take your boat to areas that are simply too difficult to access by foot. Being able to place several miles or some natural barriers between you and other hunters is always a good policy when hunting public land.
Photo: USFWS Pacific