Yes, it’s possible to scout during a hunting season without alarming whitetails enough to make them abandon their ranges or become nocturnal. Grey wolves, America’s most successful whitetail hunters, do it all the time (as follows). To accomplish this, the following rules must be strictly adhered to:
- While scouting, walk non-stop at a moderate pace without regard for wind direction and the minimal noises you might make.
- Keep your head pointed straight ahead, while searching non-stop for very fresh deer signs (not deer) and nearby natural, downwind or crosswind ground level stand sites 20–50 yards away along your path.
- Only scout on connecting deer trails that course widely through your hunting area.
- Restrict scouting to three periods: 11AM to noon or 1 PM (while deer are bedded), while hiking to a stand site and while hiking from a stand site.
- Upon discovering very fresh tracks (or other signs) characteristic of a desirable quarry that was not alarmed (not trotting or bounding) while hiking to a stand site in early morning or late afternoon, consider quietly backing off 20–50 yards to an appropriate stand site (providing adequate natural cover downwind or crosswind) and sitting down on a backpacked stool to stand hunt up to five hours. If near or adjacent to a feeding area, the odds of seeing that deer at that site will be especially favorable within the next few hours, later the same day or the next morning (not particularly favorable after that). If found midday, continue past the signs and an appropriate stand site without stopping and return quietly and non-stop later that day or the following morning from downwind or crosswind only.
- Scout for fresh signs following every morning hunt daily until you take a deer. While hunting in this manner, you will be close to deer (or a mature buck if its fresh tracks are 3-5/8 to 4 inches in length) every half-day you hunt.