By Alex Comstock
In my last blog post, I talked about certain things that can be important to summer scouting and with trail cameras. Depending on your hunting situation, summer whitetail preparation can differ from hunter to hunter. At the end of the day, summer is going to be important at some level. But, in the same breath, you can't rely on summer scouting. It goes for anything though, right? Trail cameras can be a great tool, no matter what time of year, but you can't rely on them either. It can be said for many things when it comes to pursuing whitetails. With that said, here's why you shouldn't rely on summer scouting for upcoming success.
1. Food Changes
This can go two ways. What if your hunting property doesn't see much action in the summer? I've hunted areas before that I designate as late fall properties. You may not have great bedding or good food, but your property might be a connecting property. What I think of when I say a connecting property is during the rut, bucks could be using your land to seek out does, and to get where they're going, they'll have to move through where you're at. What I'm ultimately getting at is that mature bucks stick close to food in the summer. With all the crops up, it doesn't take much for them to hide, and they don't need a crazy thick bedding area. If the food isn't on your property, you may see a reduced amount of summertime action.
Once crops come out, the area for a whitetail to hide condenses significantly. If you don't see a lot of summertime activity, or your hunting property doesn't hold many deer in the summer, that could change once the crops come out and deer start to move areas to where there is more cover. On the other hand, if you have a lot of food on your property and have lots of deer and activity all summer, once those crops come out, bucks may start to shift home ranges and leave your property. In either case, they are good reasons to not be relying solely upon your summer information.
2. You Won't be Hunting Until The Rut
This is very similar to my first reason, but it's worth expounding upon. In many cases, if you are doing a lot of scouting and running of trail cameras in the summer, and start to get a pattern on a buck, but won't be hunting that given area until the rut, it can be near pointless to base your hunting off the information you got over the summer. This seems to be especially applicable in a scenario that I've seen many times, in reference to somewhere that you hunt out of state. When you are hunting a property out of state, it's common to get trail cameras up early in the summer, and then you make a trip back to hang stands late in the summer, get everything ready for when you return to hunt in late October or November, and check trail cameras. As you spend time preparing for your return trip, it's easy to be going through trail camera photos from the summer to help plan the moves you'll be making come November. But the problem with that is there are many variables that change from July and August to October and November. Like I stated above, food changes, bucks shift home ranges and now does are starting to come into estrus, among other factors. When I'm hunting a property only during the rut, I use my summer trail camera photos as inventory to know what could be in the area. I actually hunt it based off previous years' data, or from using the terrain.
3. There's No Additional Pressure Yet
Often times during the summer there's a lot less people out in the woods. With less people out there to mess things up or to put pressure on whitetails, deer will be acting much more naturally. Have you ever heard someone say that a deer disappeared seemingly the day deer season opened? I don't think that's by accident. Once deer season opens, hunters start hitting the timber and deer react fairly quickly. All of a sudden there is heightened activity, more human scent in the woods, and deer become more reclusive. The point I'm simply trying to get across is don't be surprised if you have a buck you're watching in the summer be all over in daylight, and once season starts he moves much less during legal shooting hours.
Overall, summer importance largely depends on your hunting style and property. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot you can be doing over the summer months to prepare and get ready for deer season. If you missed our last blog post, be sure to read The Importance Behind Summer Scouting and Trail Cameras. There's numerous reasons to be putting a lot of stock into summer, but I also wanted to explain the reasons not to solely rely on the information you gather over the coming months. Ultimately, it's up to you to figure out what's important to you, and how to attack the coming months in preparation for fall.