EvoOutdoors ProStaff Team member Dale Evans shares tips on how to figure out and scout a new area:
In late May, I made the decision to move out West to Wyoming from Florida after separating from the Air Force. Without a Tag in my pocket for the state of Wyoming, I knew it was going to be a difficult year in the hunting woods. Being the avid hunter that I am, I knew I couldn’t take a fall off from hunting, so it was time to start looking into whatever tags were leftover. Luckily, I was able to find a few elk tags available close to where I live for. Knowing absolutely nothing about these areas, I knew I was going to have to do my homework in order to have success in these tougher units. That these areas were going to be particularly difficult I had no doubt, since that was why there were so many leftover tags.
First things first, I ordered OnX Map software for the state of Wyoming. I’ve never used this software before, but was amazed at its’ ease of use. I set it up with the Google Earth software already installed on my computer and began doing my research. With the OnX Maps, you are able to clearly see Unit Boundaries for each major species within the state (i.e. Elk, Deer, Antelope), see the different land ownership around the whole state, and the landowner information for each parcel. Having this Overlay system at home helped so that I could have a game plan in place before ever leaving my house. Scouting a new area can be very intimidating, especially when you are looking at a large piece of land and have no idea where to start. OnX Maps has a lot of useful information and makes the task a lot less daunting.
After I familiarized myself with the boundaries of the specific unit, and somewhat familiarized myself with the Public and Private land, my next stop was to go and talk with the local Game and Fish Warden and State Biologist. These professionals are a wealth of knowledge, and I found the folks I spoke with to be extremely helpful. They helped with leading me down the right path of where to start scouting, when to expect the animals to be in a certain area, and what places I should stay away from. They also highly recommended having a good GPS with the OnX software, to help ensure I wouldn’t be trespassing and that I would have the necessary landowner information should I decide to request permission.
The next step I recommend is to get yourself a good handheld GPS unit. I personally own a Garmin Oregon 600t, and have the OnX Wyoming chip installed. This is a great GPS that won’t break the bank, and I have found it to be very accurate. When you’ve made your game plan of places to go and scout in a new area, make sure to use your GPS. I like to have a few places already in mind that I want to check out and give a closer look when I’m heading into a new area. I’ll put waypoints into my GPS prior to going out to make it easier. Like I said before, a new area can be large and seem intimidating, so having a game plan is crucial: Have your predetermined points picked out, use the GPS to get to them, and have fun with your scouting. Unfortunately, sometimes the place that looks like a mecca on Google Earth, won’t be worth the time it took for you to get there. But, sometimes just walking around a bit will open your eyes to something you might have overlooked, or a little honey hole that couldn’t be seen with a computer program. Scouting is all about checking out places that you’ve never seen before, and finding where you will harvest your next trophy.
Dale recommends the Garmin Oregon 600T
Figuring out new land can sometimes be very simple, and other times it is incredibly difficult. It can be anything from a small 20-acre parcel that you receive access to from the local farmer, or maybe you find yourself scouting out a vast wilderness area. Doing your homework definitely helps to eliminate obvious places, so you can use your time wisely and make the most of it. You also need to understand that scouting and figuring out the land is an ever evolving art. The animals may change their patterns from year to year so you should also be constantly looking for fresh signs and new places to be. Using these small tips will definitely help to shorten your learning curve, but a skilled hunter must be flexible and willing to change at the drop of a hat.