Scouting for Whitetail Deer

What is Scouting for Whitetail Deer?

Scouting for deer involves planning your hunt, getting familiar with the terrain you’re hunting in, and learning the behavioral patterns of your prey. Whether you are hunting private or public land, in the deep south or the far reaches of the north, onX Hunt can help you better understand the terrain you are looking to hunt.

How to Scout for Deer

Success favors the prepared. Check out tips and tricks from onX Hunt and our partners to get a head start on your deer hunting season by e-scouting early and then, once you’ve found prospective areas, putting boots on the ground to make the most of your preparation.

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Finding Public Land To Hunt | The Hunting Public

Hunting on public land presents its own set of challenges. From choosing the ideal public land to hunt to determining how to avoid hunting pressure, onX Hunt can help you get the lay of the land even before you arrive. Watch as The Hunting Public break down how to utilize onX Hunt to scout.

Quick Tips:

  • Avoid public hunting areas close to bigger cities to avoid hunting pressure.
  • Look for habitat diversity—hardwood ridges, creek bottoms, thick cover, fields, and pastures.
  • Don’t put yourself in an area where you don’t have options—have a backup plan in case the original plan doesn’t work out. 

Identifying Access and Hunting Pressure | The Hunting Public

Watch as The Hunting Public analyze access points and hunting pressure on public hunting land with onX Hunt.

Quick Tips:

  • Eliminate areas that are of no interest to you due to hunting pressure because of obvious access points. 
  • Predict Vehicle and Foot access—investigate roads, paths, and river crossings that might prevent access.
  • Find landlocked areas that have more difficult access to cut down on hunting pressure.

Scouting Access Points | The Hunting Public

Now that you’ve identified access points and scouted areas you’d like to hunt, put boots on the ground and ensure your theories ring true in the field. Follow The Hunting Public as they explore the public hunting land they previously mapped with onX Hunt. 

Quick Tips:

  • Check for access blockers such as closed access roads and swollen rivers.
  • Look for signs of hunting pressure such as bootprints and human-made paths.
  • Ensure your assumptions are correct about the terrain.

Identifying Bedding Areas  | The Hunting Public

Use onX Hunt to identify bedding areas based on previous boots-on-the-ground scouting. Watch The Hunting Public walk through their process identifying bedding areas. 

Quick Tips:

  • Narrow down bedding areas by evaluating terrain and topography.
  • Consider typical wind patterns to ensure your access route isn’t downwind from a bedding area.
  • The best bedding areas are often close to water. Look for oxbows in the river that provide escape routes for deer.

Scouting Buck Bedding Areas | The Hunting Public

Watch The Hunting Public return to the field to scout for whitetail beds based on their observations using onX Hunt. Scouting bedding areas can help you pick a location for your tree stand. 

Quick Tips:

  • Mark bedding areas with Waypoints on onX so you know where they may be bedding when you come through on your hunt.
  • See what the deer can see from these beds to know where their line of sight is.
  • Evaluate how to approach these bedding areas so you don’t spook whitetail on the way in.

How to Hunt Ponds | The Hunting Public

Watch as The Hunting Public breaks down how to hunt ponds on public land. Learn how to use onX Hunt to find ponds on public land and advice on boots-on-the-ground scouting around ponds.

Quick Tips:

  • Search for permanent water sources with proximity to bedding.
  • Find the paths and throughways whitetail use to access water.

How To Hunt Open Country | The Hunting Public

The Hunting Public breaks down how to hunt open country as Warb and Ted look at how deer tend to move in this terrain and how you can capitalize on those patterns come fall.

Quick Tips: 

  • Get to a high point and see how bucks move through the open space and where they take shelter.
  • Look for bedding areas in the open field.

How To Hunt Big Woods Bucks | The Hunting Public

Watch The Hunting Public head into the big woods to break down how to utilize the natural terrain of ridges, ditches, and drainages in combination with mast-producing trees to find suitable habitat for whitetail deer.

How To Hunt River Bottoms | The Hunting Public

Zach explores some river bottom country, which often have diverse habitat, a key feature the THP crew looks for during e-scouting. These terrain types allow unique access via kayak or canoe that often lead to undetected entrance and exit routes, as well as great hunting opportunities.

Quick Tips:

  • Search For oxbows in the river that can provide bedding for whitetail.
  • Look for historic signs of deer—rubs, beds, and fur.
  • Define access points that you can sneak up on prey—considering using kayaks to cross river.

How To Hunt Timber Cuts | The East Meets West Hunt Podcast

As familiar with hunting timber cuts as anyone in Appalachia, Beau first breaks down what he looks at from his computer at home, then uses those data points to verify areas of potential with boots-on-the-ground scouting to tie it all together. 

Quick Tips:

  • Utilize the Timber Cuts Layer on onX Hunt to find areas that have been cut, when they were cut, and what type of cut it was. 
  • Timber cuts can provide new growth food sources that attract deer, depending on how long it has been since the logs were cut. 

How To Hunt Creek Bottoms in the Rut | East Meets West Hunt Podcast

Beau focuses on creek bottoms during rut-hunting scenarios as they create a connective corridor between bedding areas. Learn what features he values most when it comes to finding the perfect set up.

Scouting Kentucky Public Land | The Element

Tyler and KC of The Element head to Kentucky public land and they take you along for the ride. They break down exactly how they tackle scouting a new piece of ground using the onX Hunt App to be as efficient as possible.

Finding Buck Sign on Public Ground | The Element

Keying in on public bedding near agriculture as well as good river bottom habitat, Tyler dissects exactly what he keys in on in this type of habitat.

Breaking Down a Trail Camera Strategy | The Element

KC and Tyler break down how they utilize trail cameras on public ground to locate mature bucks. Follow along to see how their summer scouting strategy leads to the buck of a lifetime. 

Hunting Land Management

whitetail hunting land management

Are you a landowner, land manager, or both? Use the Area Shape Tool for land management purposes to determine plot acreage and know exactly what food you’ve planted as a percentage of your total acreage or use the Area Shape Tool to mark off timber stands that need to be thinned or more heavily harvested to create better cover and food. This makes communication with a forester or logger much easier.

Want to plant better food plots? Use the Area Shape Tool to calculate the exact acreage of your food plot. This is especially helpful with irregularly shaped plots. Whether a ⅛-acre transition/kill plot or two-acre destination plot, knowing the acreage helps you be precise with the amount of lime, fertilizer, or seed to put in the ground.  This can save you a ton of money and time and help keep your plots in the best condition possible throughout the season. 

Another use of the Area Shape Tool and money saver is managing your pasture or fields. Typical pastures of cool season non-native grasses like fescue or bahiagrass are great for cows, but terrible for deer and other wildlife. Use the App to determine exactly how much acreage you might want to convert to native grasses and forbs and the best design for your new native areas in relation to how you hunt. Native, naturally occurring seeds are likely already in your seed bank. A little effort to reduce grass competition and expose those seeds to sunlight is the least-expensive way to create cover and food for deer, turkey, quail, and other wildlife. Learn more about Hunting Land Management.

Acquiring Hunting Land

If you’re looking to purchase your own land for hunting, utilize onX Hunt to examine a parcel to determine the viability of the hunting on the property. Learn about a property before ever setting foot on it with the resources below. Learn more about Finding New Properties.

Using onX Hunt to Find Your Next Hunting Property! | GrowingDeer.TV

Learn how to utilize onX Hunt to find your next hunting property with Grand Woods, Ph.D. Whether you are buying, leasing, or developing a hunting plan, onX Hunt can help you gain information about a property and the surrounding areas.

143 Acres of Prime Hunting Heaven! | Drury Outdoors

Follow along with Mark Drury as he breaks down how to investigate a hunting property that is on the market in Kansas. Learn how to investigate the terrain, topography, water, and food sources from the onX Hunt App.

Endless Potential on this Budding 93 Acres | Drury Outdoors

Mark Drury walks you through how to determine the viability of hunting on a property for sale in Indiana. This property features acres of timber, easy access, and lots of potential for whitetail hunting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start hunting whitetail deer?

Interested in hunting whitetail deer but not sure where to start? Read our guide on How To Start Hunting for tips on how to dive into the world of whitetail hunting, what gear you need, and how to gain knowledge.

When do I start scouting whitetail?

An expert hunter is always scouting. With onX Hunt, you can scout from the comfort of your home all throughout the year. It’s critical to put boots on the ground as hunting season approaches to get the lay of the land and study deer movement.

When do I stop scouting whitetail?

It’s important to not alert your prey to your presence right before a hunt. Ensure that you have done all of your scouting in advance of hunting season to prevent spooking bucks.