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When the calendar shifts to September and then October, there’s one thing that almost all deer hunters can relate to; the big bucks we scouted and captured on trail camera during the summer mysteriously seem to disappear.

Through a combination of seasonal shifts in home ranges, changing food sources, and increasing human activity in the woods – many of the bucks we scouted in the summer will be gone or behaving significantly different once hunting season arrives. So the question is: What is summer scouting good for?

Plenty, in my opinion.

Develop A Hit-List: My main goal for summer scouting is to get an idea of what bucks are in the area and to determine which deer I’m most interested in targeting for the upcoming season. As mentioned above, many of these summertime residents might move off come autumn, but some might hang around, and gaining intel on those homebodies is what is most important.

Through trail cameras and long-distance observation of evening food sources, I like to develop an inventory of the mature bucks around my properties, and then study any photos or video I have of them to help make a well-informed decision about whether or not they should be a target deer. Making these “shoot” or “don’t shoot” decisions now with photos and video to help is a much better situation than trying to decide in the heat of the moment while a buck walks by.

Early Openers: While it’s true that many bucks shift patterns when September and October roll around, you sometimes can still take advantage of late summer scouting to nail down a good deer, especially if you have a hunting season that opens in September. Assuming you have food sources in the area that are still attractive to deer during this month, you’ll likely still see some of your summer bucks sticking to their bed-to-feed pattern of late August. If you can get a good handle on that pattern and plan a careful strike, you could fill your tag early.

Food sources such as late-planted soybean fields, alfalfa, oats, clover, and apple trees can all be dynamite early season hunting locations. That said, be sure to observe these types of areas on your property and if a big boy is visiting consistently, plan to get in there the first night you can.

Therapy: And finally, and maybe most importantly, summer scouting is just plain fun. After a long off-season, whitetail addicts like you and me need to scratch that deer hunting itch, and running trail cameras and scouting fields certainly helps. It’s good clean fun; it’s a chance to enjoy the great outdoors.

So get out there with your trail cameras and spotting scope and let us know what your seeing here on the BBZ blog.