Scouting Season

Take a walk in the foothills and you’ll see splashes of yellow, red, orange, pink, green, and purple.  Plants like balsamroot, buckwheat, penstemon, and shrubs like service berry and bitterbrush are putting on new growth.  These plants are highly nutritious and new growth is full of antler growing protein.

Prime Rize

New spring growth in the foothills during a shooting session

The big game we love are eating this protein to restore body condition after a dreary winter in preparation to migrate into higher summer ranges.  They’re also preparing for an epic game of hide-and-go-seek with us sportsman.  Just as that big buck prepares physically to head into higher elevations so do we need to for our migration to summer ranges for scouting season.  Scouting leads to success but just as important scouting gets you out enjoying the natural world and is good for well being.  Scouting season for Muley Freak is just as enjoyable as hunting season.  Here are a few strategies we use during scouting season.

Scouting Shape

After a long winter sometimes we aren’t in tip-top physical condition.  The older we get the harder and more important hunting shape becomes.  Scouting season is also fitness season at Muley Freak.  As we see it there are two scenarios to hunting shape and scouting season.  1) Scouting season is a time to get into hunting shape and work off the over-winter burden or, 2) scouting season is a continuation of your hunting fitness plan.  Some think scouting season is the beginning of hunting shape season and that will suffice.  This is only partially true we have found.  Staying in better shape throughout the year and using scouting as a tool to continue our fitness schedule makes scouting much more enjoyable and we are better off during the hunting season.

Heavy Packs

Part of the reason for being in hunting shape even before the scouting season begins is because scouting also requires us to load our Kifaru packs up with very heavy loads.  Those who think scouting equals lighter packs haven’t really scouted that hard.

Kifaru pack

Taking a break during an early season hike

Those heavy loads during scouting always include our Stealth Cams and associated equipment like locks boxes, locking cables, and batteries.

Stealth Cam

Stealth Cam set up in a fire scar full of high protein forage that big game love

Also, we never forget our Critter Lick to bring those big bucks in and keep them around through the summer.  This combination of Stealth Cams and Critter Lick is a sure fire way to burn batteries and fill up SD cards.

critter lick

Photo Credit

With cameras out ready for pictures it’s always a good idea to mark them with GPS coordinates.  GPS has come a long way over the years.  It’s no longer just a dot on a screen.  OnXmap has turned our GPS and smartphones into scouting and hunting must haves.  Whether you use the micro SD card in your GPS or the smartphone app it is a tool that helps hunters scout and hunt more efficiently.  We particularly like the property boundary and landownership layers.  It’s important hunters know where they’re going and where they are at in real time.


Couple shed antlers found during a scouting trip with onXmaps

Another item packed into that Kifaru pack during scouting trips is our Vortex Optics.  Hunting smarter rather than harder has become a theme for us over the last several seasons.  We used to try and cover as much country as we could on foot but have found our eyes can cover incredibly larger amounts of country than our feet.  Instead of go, go, go now it’s glass, glass, go for us.

Vortex Binos

Glassing from a vantage point for big bucks during the summer with Vortex binos

From a vantage point you can cover miles in several directions through a nice spotter like the Vortex Razor.  Once it’s covered with your eyes you can move to the next vantage point and repeat.  Using our Phone Skope kit in combination with our optics gives us a way to capture what we see to review later.  This type of scouting, and hunting, saves energy and ultimately leads to seeing more animals.

No matter how you go about scouting and whatever your strategy and tools are for scouting season just enjoy being outside.  Enjoy everything these big game landscapes have to offer like the sound of a freshwater stream falling over rock outcroppings, the trill of an overhead songbird, the crisp air of a summer night spent in the high country, and the solitude from civilizations combustion.  Scouting season is a time to connect differently to landscapes than we would during hunting season.  We notice some of the smaller aspects stated above and come away with a sense of accomplishment without having to harvest an animal.  It is one of our favorite season and hopefully yours too!

Up the trail spring scouting trip

On the way up the trail during a summer scouting trip in the rain

Read here about strategy and applying biology to setting your Stealth Cameras



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