Step one: heed this basic whitetail scouting truth — freshly made signs such as tracks or droppings made by undisturbed, unseen whitetails yield far greater hunting success than sightings of bounding (greatly alarmed) deer. Most deer seen while scouting are alarmed deer. All you will learn from sightings of them is, greatly alarmed whitetails bound away. Later you may also learn bounding deer do not return to their home ranges soon, especially older bucks. You will be much more successful during hunting seasons if you see no deer while scouting. If you do it right, most deer will remain unseen while you are scouting, being able to easily keep out of sight without becoming greatly alarmed. When not greatly alarmed, your scouting will not seriously affect their habits and behavior during following hunting seasons. Given time, all will then be in their home ranges opening morning, doing predictable things in predictable places during predictable hours.
Before stepping into the woods to scout therefore, plan to make it easy for whitetails ahead to hear, smell and/or see you coming so they have adequate time move out of your path without great haste while still what they consider to be a safe distance away. Don’t try to scout (walk about) without making telltale sounds. Instead, feel free to talk out loud and don’t concern yourself with snapping branches or wind direction. The time for that only begins opening day.
Keep in mind too, whitetails 2-1/2 years of age or older (especially older bucks) that are commonly seen feeding a great distance away in farm fields, clearcuts or food (bait) plots, for example, will likely be seen by many other hunters who will also plan to hunt them. Following minutes before or after sunrise opening morning, competing hunters will be almost certain to convince those deer it would be advisable to feed in such an area only at night only or abandon it altogether for the rest of the hunting season. Don’t waste valuable time or effort preparing to hunt commonly sighted deer unless they are on private land and you have an exclusive right to hunt them.