One of the most important scouting tools I use is a simple pocket sized notepad. Whenever I am scouting there are certain pieces of information I always try to capture for later reference. This has proven to be invaluable over the years especially when scouting public land. Because public land locations can always be a wild card (a place where others can, and will sometimes ruin your best laid plans) backup locations are a must. Therefore I usually have a lot of different locations selected and keeping track of them all along with specifics about the location are critical. Here are just a few of the notes I will try to keep:
- GPS Coordinates of any possible stand locations. While I also will save a waypoint in my gps, I prefer to have a backup written down.
- Wind direction. Actually I will make several notes about wind direction. Most importantly would be the ideal wind direction for hunting a specific spot. I then add a note of the forcasted wind direction versus the actual wind direction while in the area. I will update this each time I revisit the spot. If it turns out to be a good location, I will maintain a wind diary so I can usually predict what the wind will be doing in that location based on the weather forecast. Trees and terrain can alter wind direction so you can’t always rely on the weather forecast, or the direction when you leave your vehicle.
- When scouting, anytime I spook a deer from their bed I stop, and spend a fair amount of time analyzing the area. Deer bed in a location for a reason, understanding why is very useful not only to understand behaviors but also because you can bet they will use that area again. If not the deer you spooked then another will likely use the area in the future.
- Food sources. Any and all food sources but especially mast producing trees that will likely produce mast during season. Persimmons, muscadines, crab apples and white oaks are most important in my area.