Early Season Deer Scouting Tips

Early Season Scouting Tips
Early Season Scouting for Big Bucks. Ken McBroom

Scouting For Deer Season Early

If you hunt whitetail deer with a bow you know just how difficult it can be to just lay eyes on a mature buck let alone harvest one. There is nothing better than time afield for honing the skills to consistently harvest mature deer. Early season scouting tips for big bucks can extend your deer season. Articles like this one can help you understand what you’re experiencing in the woods. Mature whitetails may act a little differently than younger deer and if you want to target mature whitetails you must approach your scouting as well as hunting a little differently as well.

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I chase big bass throughout the warm season and have found that big deer and big bass take a different approach if that’s what your after. If you enjoy seeing a lot of deer and some sparring and bucks chasing does all around your stand then by all means continue to enjoy those times. If you want to harvest really mature bucks then you just might have to forgo the multiple deer sightings. There are definitely times when big bucks are out there in the action with the herd but these times, especially during shooting light, can be few and far between. Learning about mature deer can help you harvest those that hang back and approach every movement with caution. Early season scouting for big bucks can help you learn about big bucks. I hope this article can shed some light on those questions about big buck behavior. 


You should begin your scouting early in an attempt to locate the first rubs of the season.  Mature bucks almost always make these rubs because their testosterone levels rise sooner than lesser bucks in the area. When you locate good rubs between say September and October, depending on what part of the country you hunt, mark the spot or hang a stand because you are in the living room of a mature buck. These rubs are not easy to locate, as they are few and far between not to mention the foliage can still be thick limiting visibility during the early season.  Take your time and you can find these important sign post. 

There is more going on during the early season than you might think. There are fewer mature deer in the woods and this is why this activity goes unnoticed oftentimes taking place well away from fields and food plots.  Mature does often seek out the more mature bucks in her area to breed. This all happens earlier than all the movement we enjoy in November. This is mother nature’s way of assuring that the strongest bucks breed the strongest does. The purpose of early season scouting is to locate one of these areas that have early rubs, and get a stand hung. The action will be slow but when it happens you just might be surprised at the buck that has been living in your deer woods for years.


When searching for early rubs stay back off the fields. More times than not the earliest rubs will be in the thickest cover and not down where the does come out to feed. When you locate some early season rubs pay close attention to the tree or sapling. A great way to tell if you are in a big buck’s area is if there are licking branches on the rubs. These are little branches or sometimes fairly large branches that the buck has chewed on and rubbed his brow to leave scent to let other deer know he is there. Locate several of these in a small area and you might want to stop and hang a stand because you are close to where that buck spends a lot of his time and to move around much more could just push the buck out of the area.


Early season scrapes are also a sign that a mature buck is around. Oftentimes scrapes made by these mature bucks are just territorial sign post much like the rubs were but if a scrape shows up early, where you found the rubs, and it has been aggressively worked then more than likely you have an early season rendezvous between two mature animals in your area. If this scrape has a licking branch above it then hang a stand and hunt. Be aware that you might have only a couple deer in the area to bust you but they didn’t make it to old age by being stupid so be careful getting in and out and be absolutely sure the wind is right or the deer could shift just a couple hundred yards in any direction and avoid your stand location like the plague. 

It’s that time of year so get out there and do some early season scouting. Look for early rubs and scrapes in the thickest part of your hunting ground where the big bucks spend most of their daylight hours. Practice strict scent control. When hunting these bucks silence becomes as important as scent control. You might only be less than 100 yards from the buck you are hunting. Thick areas do help deaden sounds and allows for little mistakes but you have to be aware of the sounds that could spook the deer. I think it is a good idea to hand a stand, before going to you hunting area, just to see how noisy your stand can be. I always pay close attention to what causes the noise and wrap that area with tape to eliminate that harsh metal to metal clank that will alert a wary old buck.

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About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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