The better you prepare for a hunt, the more you will increase your chances of being successful. GPS technology, and apps like HuntWise, are changing the way hunters prepare for hunts in unknown territories. When you are about to embark on a backcountry big game hunt, E-scouting, or digital-scouting, enables you to view the land you are about hunt by using GPS and mapping layers. Before you venture into, make sure you cover these 8 E-scouting essentials.
1. Identify the area your tag is valid for and get to know property boundaries
The first step to E-scouting is figuring out where you can hunt, and the surrounding land. By downloading a GPS app like HuntWise, you can view boundaries for Draw units, and OTC/General areas. Use mapping layers to see government lands, county boundaries, and landowner boundaries with owner contact information. When preparing for your hunt, look at areas that border private lands or restricted units than may have less pressure. Sometimes the best hunting is on the boundary lines.
2. Identify roads and trailheads
It’s pretty obvious why you should know which roads will lead you where you want to hunt, but what about the trails, paths, and access? Look for land areas that can give you access to remote areas. Get away from road systems and major trailheads. While keeping in mind, you need to be physically able to not only get back, but potentially (and hopefully) take out 250-350 pounds of meat, cape, and antlers. There is a fine line between getting away from the bulk of other hunters and putting yourself in a bad situation. Being physically prepared and knowing your limits is very important. On HuntWise app, you can identify passenger vehicle roads, ATV roads, dirt bike approved trails, biking trails, pack and saddle trails, and hiking trails.
3. Identify areas that provide the shelter to your big game
Usually, dark timber on north-facing slopes provide elk with security. North slopes that have “benches” in the topography offer natural corridors for elk to move in and out of easily.
4. Find food and water Not only for the elk and deer, but for you
Knowing where water is available is not only important to your hunt, but crucial for your safety. You should always have a plan for refilling drinking water. In late August and early September, water is vital to elk. Especially in places that can be historically very dry like Colorado. Look for drainages and depressions that will be potential spots for elk to wallow in.
5. Go into your hunt with a good idea of where females will be
This is a little harder to determine from your desktop and phone, but you can usually bet there are cows and calves where there is cover, food, and water. Viewing the map in 3D mode from your iPhone will allow you to see the lay of the land. Being able too know where good elevated look out spots are for these area will give you the upper hand on your stalk.
6. Plan your hunt around burned areas
Look at areas that have been clear cut or have burned in years past. Even though it will push wildlife out during the time it happens, the years to follow usually provide a lot of green undergrowth (food). While the feed is the initial reason animals travel to a burn after a few years, the new growth will also provide good bedding and cover.
7. Check with people that have been there
Learning from other hunters is a great scouting tool. Thousands of hunters share their experiences on HuntWise using photo logs and on online hunting forums like 24hourcampfire, Archery Talk, and Rokslide among many others. If you need specific questions about the herd, it doesn’t hurt to give a local biologist a call. In general, these are useful resources for beginner hunters and even the most experienced backcountry hunter can learn a thing or two.
8. Save your map before you go off the grid
The last step is to save the map with all of the layers and features so that you can use it wherever your hunt takes you. Even with no cell phone service, you can mark where your camp is, or where a bull went down, and always find your way back. Make sure you take advantage of every resource to ensuring a safe and successful big game hunt by utilizing these 8 essentials to E- Scouting.
Every hunt will be different. Every state and species will vary, but these eight tactics will help prepare you for your next big game hunt. Whether you are an experienced backcountry hunter, or this is your very first time big game hunt HuntWise is here to help prepare you for the hunt of a lifetime.