Always Be Scouting: On Accidentally Finding New Hunting Spots

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I wasn’t hunting. Nor was I scouting. But I came away with a few new spots to hunt next season. These are the perks of having other outdoor hobbies that just so happen to take place on the same land you can hunt. Instead of taking the time out of my week to go “look for sign,” I just went camping, biking, hiking, paddling, and fishing and stumbled upon more sign than I probably would’ve if I were just focused on scouting. While it doesn’t paint a complete picture of an area in regards to the animals I hope to find, it definitely gives me a starting point. And the best part is? I’m having a ton of fun doing it.

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Getting Yourself Out There

For the experienced, die-hard hunter, scouting is probably routine when it comes to the off-season. It might even be enjoyable for you. It’s understandable. I hear all the experts talk about how important scouting is all the time on podcasts, videos, and books, but I just have to assume that there’s a fair number of people that don’t scout. Or at least don’t do enough of it.

I’m probably going to be one of those people. The process of hunting is fun. Having a tag in your pocket, waiting to be notched is fun. But going out in the off-season, knowing you can’t take a shot, even if you see something? Less fun. It’s part of the hunting process but definitely feels like the less fun part. That is unless you make it fun.

Once my turkey season was over, my thoughts about hunting shut off. I planned a couple of hort bikepacking, hiking, and paddling trips at the end of Spring, which just so happened to be taking place in a national forest and on a state recreation area. So basically, land that can be hunted.

Each time I was making my way through the forests, over hills, and down sparsely traveled dirt roads, I had forgotten about hunting. But each time I would awake in my tent to a turkey gobbling, catch a glimpse of big deer majestically standing atop a sand dune during sunset, I was reminded that hunting season will come again.

And every time I remembered that, I pulled out my phone and marked a few more waypoints. I realized I was hours away from the nearest big city, which meant that the abundant lands I was surrounded by could make for the perfect fall hunting opportunity.

Make Scouting More Fun

I could start my search for new hunting spots on the map, eyes staring at the computer. But then the search becomes completely objective. I realized now that I’d rather begin my search in the places I’d love to hunt. Over the few trips I’ve gone on thus far, and over the additional ones I’ll be taking this summer, I will have seen parts of the state that are absolutely beautiful.

These are places that would be a joy to hunt, whether or not you come away with animals. It would make for a better all-around experience, and now that I’ve made my way through them, completely unaware of the hunting potential, I’ve now come away with plenty of ideas of where to start my next hunt.

Sure, I’ll need to continue my research. But if I get to hunt even a single one of the spots I’ve witnessed so far, I’m in for a good season ahead. I guess I’ve taken the passive scouting approach. But at least I’m having a ton of fun doing it and still seeing and hearing the animals. With that in mind, I’ll just plan another overnight paddle down a wild and scenic river, and another bikepacking excursion through the national forest.

Looking for ways to hack your summer scouting? Maybe don’t call it scouting. Call it backpacking. Or just go paddling and fishing down some of the scenic rivers in your area. Or dust off your bike and explore some old dirt roads running through public land. You’ll be outdoors, having fun, and laying your eyes on some great land to consider for next season.

Justin Jaeger

There is so much to do in this world, and quite honestly, I’d like to do it all. Or at least most of it. I didn’t start fishing until my late 20’s. Didn’t even touch a gun until age 29 when I decided I’d like to try eating squirrels. But now I love both hunting and fishing. My bucket list is incredibly long, as I hope to hike, camp, fish, hunt, dive, paddle, climb, and bike in dozens of states and countries.

One thought on “Always Be Scouting: On Accidentally Finding New Hunting Spots

  • Hi Justin! I really enjoyed reading this article and I can’t agree with you more. We should all be getting outdoors more and experiencing everything it has to offer. I myself have found a couple new duck hunting locations just from hiking/fishing this summer. It definitely pays to get out there. Thanks!


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