The Milk Route

Want to know what separates the guys who continually shoot big deer and those who don’t? Scouting.

They just know the daily habits of a big buck and time afield provides them with that type of perspective. But, that isn’t necessarily reality for a lot of us. Perhaps the property you hunt is over an hour away—or even a few states make daily or weekly access impossible. There are efforts you can take now to put yourself into position for a shot this fall.

Close The Distance

Even if you have to travel to reach your property, a scouting run once or twice a summer will far-and-away beat not going at all before opener. Take a long weekend, a spotting scope and hit the dirt roads watching whatever angle you can leading into your property.

Even if it’s landlocked and inaccessible with optics from the road, it’s worth knowing what’s living around you. Once velvet is shed and the hierarchy is established, deer move around a lot in early fall. What you see on your, or your neighbors’ property doesn’t necessarily mean those same deer will be there in the fall.

Putting miles on the truck and hours through the lens of a spotting scope will help you know what you have to look forward to. There is no substitute for what you witness first hand, even if it’s once or twice during the long, hot summer.

At Home

If you are fortunate enough to live within close proximity of your hunting properties, be out numerous times each week running an established ‘Milk Route’. You’ll likely see plenty of deer and have a great understanding of their nightly habits.

Even if it means a lunch break cruising gravel roads, you’d be surprised what that could tell you. I have seen some of the biggest bucks on my properties during the middle of a hot, humid day.

While vehicles don’t typically bother deer, your presence can be noticed, so mix it up. Park in different locations and keep the distance as long as possible. As the light fades and temperatures drop each evening, the deer will be on their feet, so it’s important to be there before they are—especially if you are looking to isolate likely bedding areas.

Food Is King

During summertime, beans rule, period. Before acorns drop, this will be their preferred destination-feeding source, and will remain until the beans begin to yellow. Typically acorn crops ripe up around the time the soybeans begin to die, which actually contributes to what many refer to as the October Lull.

But, don’t overlook alfalfa or hayfields, the deer feed on greens all year around.

For now, if you can find an elevated position a mile or more from a popular bean field near or on your property, set up and wait for the evening parade of hungry whitetails. Also by noting the time and location where each buck appears every evening will help you produce a solid pattern, which you can lean on once the season opens.

Just knowing what is going on will give you the leg-up needed to get at least one step ahead of your target buck this fall. Who knows, you just might tag out on opening night—I wouldn’t complain about that!


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