Spring is in full swing and most if not all of us have been handed our Golden Slip to the hunts that we will be adventuring on this fall. Whether you are a Hard Core DIY Backcountry hunter or the weekend warrior, or a hunter that has selected to go on a guided hunt this fall, we all look for resources to help us find the animals that we will be pursuing this fall. It may sound a little “cliché “, but putting the boot leather to the ground is your most valuable resource we all have. I know putting your hard earned miles in the country you will be hunting is not always possible especially if your hunt is thousands of miles away and the weekend bonzi trip is not an option nor economically feasible, and the family and work obligations that have their restraints.
One of my first resources that I use quite regularly is “Google Earth”. This is a great option when I don’t have the opportunity to scout the area by foot. I start looking at the terrain, water sources, bedding areas, travel routes and possible areas of food sources that can be pinpointed for your hunt area.
Coinciding with using Google Earth I try to have Topo maps at my side to cross reference from what I’m viewing on the Computer screen to the map. These days there are many options of mapping resources, from the USFS map’s, DNR/State maps, DeLorme, to companies that provide more detail mapping such as Green Trail Maps, to DIY Hunting Maps.com/ HuntingGPSMaps.com can provide you a hard copy mapping solution along with Chips for your handheld GPS unit. Many of us use GPS’s when going a field and having a company that provides an updated chip for the GPS and that offers you a hard copy map of the quadrants of the area that you will be hunting is a great option and a valuable resource.
I have always tried to contact the local Game and Fish Biologist in the area [in] out of state that I will be hunting. You should make sure you have all the questions for the biologist on a list right in front of you when your contact is finally made. Please ask the sensible questions that will be received and answered respectfully. Don’t expect them to give you the “ultimate honey hole”. When contact is finally made they will usually give you some general ideas were to start looking and pursuing the game that you are after. For Example, some up front questions to ask; Are the game populations steady for this area, are the bull to cow ratio meeting your objectives, is general access to the area tough, easy, good public access, has it been a normal precipitation year. These are just a few upfront questions that will be received well and will be given a straight forward answer without the Biologist feeling pressured, and won’t seem like you just want the golden answer of where are the elk or deer!!
Contacting local resources such as the Dept. of Natural Resources or Local Timber Company Foresters have always given me some general information and can be a very valuable resource due to the fact they are in the field almost 250 + days a year. Most foresters again will give you an idea of game populations in the area and point you in a direction where food and water resources are available. Most of these individuals can be hunters themselves, so don’t expect them to give up the ultimate spot. Another group of individuals that fall in this category is the Loggers if you are expecting to hunt in areas where this practice is still operating. These individuals will give you some ideas, but can be closed lip more so than the Forester themselves due to the fact that most that I know are hard core hunters themselves and are relentless to give up such valuable hard earned information for the hunt unit, but it never hurts to ask appropriate questions.
Locals in the area can be helpful to your knowledge of finding spots that could lead you in the right direction to the game that you may be pursuing once you have reached your destination. Small gas station [stores], local farmers and ranchers could offer up some information while getting supplies before heading out.
Scouting remotely by the [net.] web-scouting or e-scouting (which has been mentioned before), you may have heard these terms which are a very popular method. Using such internet sites such as; www.bowsite.com, www.elk101.com forum, www.rokslide.com, along with state Hunt Forums in general, too State Wildlife Agency sites/ forums that can provide statistical information such as trending game populations, are just a few available at our finger tips.
Other great resources that most of us have in hand, reach our mailboxes every other month. If you do receive subscriptions to various magazines such as; Eastmans’ Hunting and Bowhunting Journal, Extreme Elk, Western Hunter and Elk Hunter magazines. These magazines offer up some sort of “Tip’s and Tactic’s” and “Resource Section” with information leading you to better units or states for multiple species of game and trending status. They provide the individual with valuable information towards which units will hold the most animals of that species to the largest trophies. Most of these sections provide you a starting point for how many years it may take to obtain that limited draw tag, if that is the hunt your after. If you are savvy and do just a little bit more work than average with these resources an individual can always find some sleeper units that hold some great animals.
Another option that is useful for local area scouting is the availability and use of Game Camera’s. This option is something a lot of use currently, or will be pursuing in the future. That being said this topic will be discussed in greater detail in a future article. All in all there are many options with today’s technological advances whether for scouting around your local area or scouting for areas hours away from home. The need of these available resources, and I might add to better your physical conditioning, are essential for the shorter seasons that we seem to be encountering and with less tags available in almost every state. Today’s hunters need every advantage, so be prepared and make your scouting research time count… See ya on the mountain!!