Scouting From Home

Some of you out there have no doubt drawn elk or mule deer or pronghorn tags far from home and will soon be heading west to chase your bowhunting dreams. In many cases you've never laid eyes on the area, leaving you wholly without a clue of where to start when you arrive. Yet there's no reason to arrive unprepared. It's easy to tip the odds of success in your favor, by engaging in desk-jockey scouting right now.

Sleuthing productive hunting country far from home starts by poring over maps of your chosen hunting area, quickly narrowing prospective hotspots. U.S. Forest Service, BLM, or U.S. Geological Survey maps get you into desolate areas effortlessly. Wilderness areas are prime suspects, but any large swatch of roadless terrain should raise a red flag. Some basic knowledge of the game and the habitat they prefer also proves useful. Poring over maps, especially topographical maps, gives you a better idea of what you're in for. Water's always important, most notably in drier portions of the West, so permanent creeks, springs, or even man-made drinkers or tanks, are of major interest.

Key contacts include US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and US Geological Survey. Too, indexed to accurate topographical maps, today's GPS units can take you right in to remote spots, without worry of getting lost.

Next, seek people who might know something of the area you have in mind. State game and fish biologists often participate in aerial game surveys and can be quite helpful. Summer fire crews are often a great well of information, spending weeks in backcountry few trod, making a call to an area Forest Service office worthwhile. It's also often worth chatting up sporting goods employees near prospective hunting areas, getting the latest on recent weather conditions dictating where you hunt due to moisture or lack of.


Further research may involve referencing a state game department's annual harvest statistics. Hunt areas with success rates above 25 percent for deer, 30 percent for elk, and 50 percent on turkey are good places to start. Another good source of helpful information is the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (formally Soil Conservation), who collects data on the flora and fauna found in particular areas across the nation. Their reports can lead to specific food supplies, water, and animal populations in a particular area. Get more info at www.nrcs.usda.gov/.


Another sometimes productive — and fun — way to scout is through on-line aerial photography web sites. TerraServer USA, GlobeXplorer, and US Geological Survey aerial surveys.

Scouting from home will never replace getting your boots on the ground, but the West is vast and narrowing prospects simply eliminates wasted time during limited vacation time. And you just never know — I've discovered some of my hottest hunting areas by carefully studying maps, at other times a tip from a conservation office biologist leading to a remote canyon or ridge where hunting proved exceptional.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

The new Ravin R29X Crossbow includes everything you need for blistering speed (450 FPS!) and deadly downrange accuracy (3-inch group at 100 yards).

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Designed exclusively for their crossbows, Ravin has announced three new mechanical broadheads to maximize penetration and overall performance.

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint Archery evolves in design and performance with the introduction of the new CP400 Crossbow.

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Kevin Steele and the boys are bowhunting turkeys with the help of some well-placed decoys.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

From portability and comfort to stealth and shooting opportunities, today's tree saddles are hard to beat. Treestands & Blinds

Why You Should Try Tree Saddle Hunting

Andy May

From portability and comfort to stealth and shooting opportunities, today's tree saddles are...

Binoculars and rangefinders at the 2020 ATA Show! ATA Show

New Optics for 2020

Brian K. Strickland - January 10, 2020

Binoculars and rangefinders at the 2020 ATA Show!

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm! How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

You know the Recipes

Spicy Elk Venison Vindaloo Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

You know the "Indian food is so spicy!" exclamations you often get from people? Well, this...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

I'm forever at a loss regarding New Year's Resolutions.  I've never smoked a cigarette, can't Stories

New Year's Resolutions for Bowhunters

Patrick Meitin - January 03, 2013

I'm forever at a loss regarding New Year's Resolutions.  I've never smoked a cigarette, can't

In this edition of Stories

Food Plots

Bowhunting Online Staff - July 25, 2018

In this edition of "Tech Talk," Mike Carney shares insight on how to add punch to your hunt by

With the news of Mel Johnson's passing at the age of 84, there's little doubt that the legacy of Stories

Despite His Passing, Mel Johnson Casts Large Shadow Over Bowhunting World

Lynn Burkhead - May 31, 2018

With the news of Mel Johnson's passing at the age of 84, there's little doubt that the legacy...

There's always that one special bowhunter we all looked up to as a kid, whether it was a family Stories

Bows in the Movies: Our Favorite Archery Characters

Bowhunting Online Staff - August 09, 2013

There's always that one special bowhunter we all looked up to as a kid, whether it was a family

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now