First Scouting Trip: May 2015

The Big Game Draw results are in:  unsuccessful for Mountain Goat and limited entry Deer, but successful for general Buck Deer…in my 5th choice unit.

After arrowing the infamous Droptine buck in 2010, I vowed never to hunt the Cache unit (Monte Cristo/Unit #2) again. There are simply too few bucks and hardly any trophies. But with so many hunters in Utah now, I can no longer hunt where I want to, even with a bow. For a guaranteed tag, I always put Cache as my last choice. Since no one in their right mind actually wants to hunt the Cache unit, it’s a guaranteed draw.

Well, I’ll make the most of it. And when it’s all over, I know I will be standing over a huge Pope & Young buck, but man, it’s gonna take some work. In order to succeed, I’ve already begun scouting. I’ll continue scouting this bleak unit every chance I get until opening day in mid-August.

The Cache unit is relatively HUGE. What it lacks in quality deer, it makes up for in quantity area–miles and miles of pristine forest and mountains, mostly devoid of wildlife. It takes a lot of time and effort to thoroughly scout an area this big.

A couple weeks ago, when the higher elevations were still snowed in, Esther and I scouted some obscure lower elevations. I quickly learned that you had to get at least a mile away from the dirt road to find any deer. We finally found a pod of eight deer in a steep feeding swathe between aspens.  It was too early to see antlers, but it looked like a promising new area.

Pre-season scouting doesn’t require actually seeing deer. It’s more important to look for sign:  large tracks, tree rubbings, and especially good feeding areas. Remember the old adage:  Where you find the best feed, you’ll find the best bucks. Grab a topo map and locate potential feeding areas on the east and south-east facing slopes near steep, timbered bedding areas. Bucks love to bed near feed, especially early in the year when there’s little pressure.

Successful scouting means continually seeking out new potential areas. Hunting pressure quickly pushes bucks out of prime areas, so you’ll need multiple backup areas. Be sure to scout the secondary ridges. These are the lower or middle ridges where bucks feel safe. On Monte Cristo the main roads follow the top and bottom of the mountain. But in the deep, dark middle/interior, the bucks feel safe.

Although I wasn’t inspired to pull out my camera and document our first antlerless deer sighting, I considered this trip a good learning experience. The biggest lesson was how much more area I still needed to cover. A second scouting trip was quickly planned and executed (see tomorrows post with pictures!)

Good luck on your own scouting adventures.

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