Spring Scouting Tip: Backtracking Next Season’s Whitetail Bucks

Don’t miss the scouting opportunity this spring to learn the fall travel habits of mature whitetail bucks.

Spring Scouting Tip: Backtracking Next Season’s Whitetail Bucks

Scouting during early spring is one of the most effective ways to get a jump on next fall. All the sign made throughout the previous season by whitetail bucks stands out, and with the season having closed a couple months ago, you don’t have to worry about pressuring the deer.

This is my favorite way to learn the property I am hunting and how the deer, specifically mature bucks, utilize it. One of the key aspects to piecing together the puzzle of mature buck movement is understanding travel routes.

Start With Food

I like to start at food sources because this is where most of the whitetails are congregating during fall hunting seasons. I identify a few main trails leading to the food source, then I follow the trails backward to determine where they came from. If the property you bowhunt doesn’t have specific food destinations, then try to determine where the nearest food source is in relation to your location and start with the travel routes leading to it, backtracking them from there.

Think Like a Buck

Once I have identified the main trails leading from a food source and begin backtracking, I make sure to take my time. I try to consider every reason why a deer might be using a particular route. Terrain, wind and sight advantage are just a few of the questions and scenarios I process throughout the backtracking process.

Even though it’s fun to see beat-down, intersecting trails and high-traffic areas, this really isn’t what I am looking for. Sure, you can find some great ambush spots in and around the rut, but I spend most of my time looking for the thicker cover around these main trails. I have found this is usually where to spot concentrated buck sign and interior travel routes. This transitional cover allows bucks to follow and scent-check doe groups around the rut, and offers them security during early and late season.

The author has learned that buck travel corridors can be tricky to identify, but once you find one or two, they can be dynamite for an entire deer season.
The author has learned that buck travel corridors can be tricky to identify, but once you find one or two, they can be dynamite for an entire deer season.

Think about how you would move if you were a buck. Usually, if you find the thickest habitat the property offers where terrain allows for wind and thermal advantage, you’ll be on your way to finding that big-buck travel corridor for next fall.

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