Preseason Scouting....Is it Necessary?
This may seem like a stupid question....however, I get asked all the time if running trail cams and pre-season scouting is worth it. My answer, ABSOLUTELY. I could go on and on about the benefits of pre-season scouting. Today I will touch on the few I think are the most important. I HATE coming home empty handed so if I can prevent that in anyway, I will. It's also a good time to test gear for the upcoming season.
Do you the the Special Forces guys would rather have been to an area before an operation or search and rescue to have been in a certain canyon before performing one of their ops? You don't know what you don't know and you can only do so much Google earth scouting until you really just need to walk the area. I have been in plenty of areas I though looked incredible on Google but come to find out there just wasn't much animal life in the area...even if in my eyes there was everything the animals need in other words; food, water, shelter or bedding.....
Out of State
I understand it is difficult to go out of state an scout a new area every time you draw a new tag. If you can make it there for at least 1 trip it really could make the difference between a successful harvest or not. That doesn't mean I make it every time either.....there's a lot going on especially if you have multiple states drawn.
If I draw a general season tag in my home state you better believe I am on that mountain as often as time permits before the season starts.
1. Class of Animal
If you are frequenting the area you will gain a good understanding of what class of animal is there. This is a key element for me because if I see a good buck opening morning and I KNOW he's really good for that area, he's coming home with me.
2. Lay of the land
Google Earth only gets you so far, I feel pretty confident most of the time about selecting new areas on the maps. But there is no substitute for getting out, walking the terrain, and putting eyes on some animals before the season.
3. Plan B, C, D
Another benefit to pre-season scouting is being able to have a backup plan. If you are an avid hunter you know that seldom do things come together perfectly as you envisioned on opening morning. The struggle is a big reason why we keep coming back. That sense of accomplishment after putting in the work is unmatchable. So it is of great benefit to have some kind of back up plan when things go sideways. There's so many unknowns and therefore the more you've scouted the high chances of success.
I use trail cams in my home state but they are not my favorite way to scout. I like to see the animal alive, breathing, and moving around. However, trail cams can be a great way to gauge what class of animal is in the area. There is definitely an art to setting cams and some guys are way better at it than others. I've had several cams stolen or broken which is pretty lame. Unfortunately it is the day and age we live in. There are many new regulations coming out per state regarding trail cams so make sure you check the regs before placing them.
There's no replacement for boots on the ground plus I would rather spend my time in the Mountains to begin with. Time can be tricky but if you can at least get in one good pre-season trip I would definitely recommend it.
Good luck everyone.