It’s the time of year when my scouting for the upcoming season reaches a frenzied state. Scouting is simply an effort by the hunter to significantly increase his/her odds of observing and or harvesting the gender and age class deer of their choice. My mission is to harvest mature (4 year old or older) bucks. These bucks typically have a smaller core area and are extremely difficult to hunt without alerting them to your presence.
I’m constantly looking at Reconyx images, thinking about buck patterns I’ve learned about while managing the property during past years, etc. It’s critical to understand how bucks use the food, cover, and water resources available within their core area. Certainly some mature bucks will make trips outside their core area, but these trips can’t be predicted, and therefore can’t be counted on for the hunter to be successful.
Observations and data from past years are important in understanding how deer generally use a property. However, to place a stand so that mature bucks will walk within 40 yards requires M.R.I. – Most Recent Information.
The horrific drought that is currently ongoing in many states provides the perfect illustration for the value of M.R.I. Obviously sources of water that have been available in the past may not exist this fall. In some areas there may have been so many sources of water that bucks weren’t using any source of water regularly enough to establish a detectable pattern. That may not be the case this year and sources of water may provide the best option to pattern mature bucks.
Food is another factor that may have very limited distribution in areas impacted by the drought. The images above are from the same food plot, taken during the same time of year. The local deer density didn’t increase that much from one year to the next. However, the growing conditions changed significantly! Growing conditions were average to slightly better than average during 2010. It was the 4th driest and the hottest July on record at the same location during 2011. Certainly deer feeding patterns will change from 2010 and 2011. Stand locations that were productive during 2010 may be a biological desert during 2011.
However, using M.R.I. to scout, 2011 may be a better hunting year. Finding the limited food and water resources may make for some fantastic stand locations!
By definition, M.R.I. changes rapidly. Don’t count on data from last year to place your stands this year. If you do, you might be watching a biological desert.
Growing (and hunting) Deer together,