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How to Scout in Hunting

Learn how to scout from big game hunter "Killer Keith" McDonald in this Howcast hunting video.


Hello I am Keith McDonald, nick name Killer Keith and hunting my whole life, 45-50 years, deer hunting, bear hunting, moose hunting, turkey hunting, you name it, I have hunted it. I am a licensed Maine guide. I've hunted in Alaska. I've hunted in Canada. I've hunted in Newfoundland. I've been everywhere, everywhere I've hunted. I've done a lotta, lotta scouting over the years. And all you're doing is trying to go out and look for deer sign. See where they're traveling, 'cause, you know, deer, they're gonna find a place to bed down, sleep. Then they're gonna have a travel right, route, from where they're sleeping to where they're eating. And so they're gonna leave tracks. So you've gotta figure out where they're bedded, where they're feeding, and how they're traveling back and forth. So if you're gonna hunt, it tells you where to sit. And there's a lot more to it than most people think. I believe wholehearted, you can overscout an area to the point where you drive the deer out of it. It's very easy to do. So you gotta be careful when you're scouting. And people say, well okay, I see beds, here's deer. They find deer beds, and okay, this is a deer bed. Well, there are night beds and day beds, and there's a difference. You go in to some of the grown up fields in northern Maine, and maybe and orchard behind the field. And there's grass out there that they don't mow. And so you'll see a nice distinct deer bed, right out in the middle of a field. There's a pretty good chance that's a night time bed, not a daytime bed. So, you're not gonna find the deer bedded down in the middle of that field in the daytime. So you're gonna find a different place. It might be a spruce thicket that's a quarter mile behind the field, where they're coming out the field to feed, feed on, maybe, little clumps of clover, or apple orchards, or whatever they're gonna feed on. The trick is to scout around, find where they're bedded, morning and evening. And then, pick a spot to sit. This is where I'm gonna sit, watch for these deer. And you pick up a spot where you can get to it, and in and out without disturbing the deer. It doesn't do any good to sit right on the deer's rung. Within 2 days, they know you're there. They don't come there anymore, they go somewhere else. So, they become hunter wiry. They get spooked. Then they go nocturnal. Deer tend to be nocturnal anyway. And the least pressure you put on them, they go nocturnal, and you're not gonna see them during the daylight until the rut comes out. And that's the time to hunt anyway. A lot of time, you're looking for a big deer. Those big tracks mean big deer. Or you're looking for scrapes, where they'll run, they'll scrape the ground, they'll scrape a circle, maybe 4 foot circle. And it's a breeding area where they'll scrape at all the leaves off, and it's bare ground. And they'll urinate on it, and that's them leaving their scent marker for the other deer around and all, that, hey, I'm boss here, and this is. What I'm gonna do is take care of all the ladies in the area. So, I look for those things. Or horns, when they rub their horns on the trees, they take all the bark off the trees, and everything. So, you look for some of that. Droppings is another thing, 'cause they leave droppings. They gotta go to the bathroom, they leave droppings. I get excited if I start seeing lots of droppings around. You know, this is alright, nice fresh droppings, lots of piles here and there. Okay, deer are staying right here, living right in this area. But now, I've gotta be very careful I don't spook them out of there.

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