Last week we had a gorgeous early spring day here in Central Pennsylvania. Not one of those almost too-warm afternoons that brings everyone into frenzy, but a pleasantly mild 50-some degrees, truly my favorite weather. I took the opportunity to head straight from work to scout for deer in the mountains.
Many folks shed hunt this time of year, which I somewhat do, but what I am really searching for is buck sign leftover from last fall's rut. During winter, the deer in this area herd up in thermal hemlock valleys which they don't frequent nearly as much during hunting season, so shed hunting does not benefit me substantially. Early spring prior to green-up is a tremendous time to be searching for new spots. I am looking for general areas with good deer concentrations, and next fall I will do stealth recon missions to verify there are bucks using the area and pinpoint stand locations. The combination of signs I look for are quite simple, yet require tuned-in observation to locate: convergence of deer trails, typically on benches, saddles, and other map features; with scrapes and rubs (preferably big) in the vicinity; and, food (acorns) and bedding within easy reach.