It has been about 3 weeks since I first posted about my 2018 Hunting Challenge and I have recently had some success scouting in the Sam Houston National Forest so I figured it’s time for an update. I have never really scouted an area before, not even my own property in Mississippi, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew what I should be looking for and what it looks like, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to “successful”. My idea of success would be to find an area that had all the elements that I think a deer needs to survive (food, cover and water) and find all the deer signs that go with it (deer beds, deer scat, heavily used trails, antler sheds, rubs etc.). I won’t get into a lot of detail about the different scouting trips I made to the forest, so I will let the pictures do the talking.
First Scouting Trip = Failure
I hastily left my house February 18th with big dreams of stumbling upon sheds of monster bucks and endless amounts of deer sign. Instead, as I drove down FM 1486 on my way to the national forest I noticed a kid chasing a mini horse on the shoulder. I initially drove by like most people in front of me and then my conscience took over. I couldn’t let that mini horse get hit by a car or let that kid chase it all by himself. So, I busted a u-turn and pulled over so I could help take chase. This lasted for almost 2 hours! We chased that mini horse through pastures, thick woods and across the road onto a neighboring cattle pasture. I finally made it to the forest to do some scouting and I ended up walking away with nothing. I found zero sheds and barely saw any sign. My challenge was starting to look like it was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
Scouting Access Points with the Family
I knew I would have to get my family out into the woods with me in order to do as much scouting as I want to do, so I had them tag along on a trip to help me get an idea of access points into an area I wanted to scout the following week.
Scouting Success and my first Dead Head!
Every Friday I am fortunate enough to only work a half day and it has been a blessing with this new hunting challenge. I am able to get into the woods by noon and do some scouting until it’s time to head home for dinner. This last Friday I went out to where my family and I went hiking so I could scout around the thick underbrush and it paid off. I found multiple doe and buck bedding areas, trails and rubs. This area also looks like it recently had a fire roll through it because I found quite a few burnt tree trunks and the undergrowth was incredibly thick, which is perfect cover and browse for deer. There were a few places where I would hit a wall of briers and undergrowth that I could not get through. This place had me excited and then it gave up my first dead head of the season. After that I was over the top excited about the potential in this forest.
I am pumped up to do some more scouting and for the upcoming season. I have a lot more to do, but this trip gave me lots of optimism for what could be waiting for me this October. In the next month or two I am planning on making numerous Friday afternoon scouting trips and shed hunts while also placing a few cameras. Hoping to see plenty of deer walking around and praying no one steals my stuff! I have heard too many horror stories about cameras getting stolen, but maybe helping catch that mini horse will keep karma on my side.
-The Family Outdoorsman