“Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club.”
Scouting? WTF? - said most new hunters always. I know we did. But then we learned real quick that we were wrong, and scouting is hella important.
In a nutshell, scouting is heading out to a location you're going to hunt in a few weeks before your trip. The goal is to figure out where you need to be to see the game you're trying to kill.
Learning Is Fun
Arguably, scouting is one of the most fun parts of hunting. You get to spend time in the wild, see a tonne of wildlife (because you don't have a rifle, so Murphy's Law), and you don't have the pressure of bagging an animal. What you do get, is a wicked learning experience.
Scouting is not only helpful in finding out where the animals are, but you also get to learn about their habitat, habits and movement patterns. By going out scouting more than once to the same area, you get to see how the animals move during different parts of the day. It's pretty damn cool.
You Don't End Up Wasting Your Time
If you've properly scouted the area you want to hunt, you should have a pretty good idea of where the animals tend to be at first light, or dusk. This way you aren't wasting valuable hunting time, well, scouting. I can't imagine what our first hunts would have been like if we done some scouting first. We would actually know where we should be setting up instead of spending a bunch of time wandering around like fucking idiots. The more you know about the area you want to hunt, the more chances your hunt will be successful.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you are out scouting, you should be trying to move like you would hunting. You don't want to be traipsing about the woods like a lost elephant, this will only upset the animal population and screw you over when it's time to hunt. That said, the more you move around and get to the know the area, the better you become at moving like a hunter. You get comfortable with the terrain and can sneak through it like a ninja. An ninja who kills animals.
Keep record of what you see, where you see it and at what time of day. GPS is a great way to tag your location on Google Maps, and you can use our notebooks to sketch and take notes of your surroundings and even measure any tracks you find.