In this post, you’ll learn how to scout deer in August. In August deer are still in their summer patterns and bucks are still carrying their velvet. There isn’t much change from July to August in the deer world. By the end of the month, their velvet will be very close to what their hardened fall antlers will look like.
Be sure to check out How to Scout Deer in July if you missed last month’s post!
One change I notice each year during August is that deer change feeding patterns. I’ve consistently observed deer hitting a particular field or food source in early July only to have them disappear from that food source in August. I later learned that starting around late July into early August vegetation loses much of its nutritional value. Whitetails will often change food sources in order to locate higher quality food. August is one of two main food stress periods for whitetails and continues until mast starts dropping in early fall.
Don’t be surprised to see the big buck you seeing all summer disappear from a particular field or food source. It’s likely he is still nearby using a different food source, the key is to locate high-quality bedding nearby.
Whitetails in August are trying to conserve as much energy as possible. When temperatures are hot they seek the shade, water, and wind to ease their burdens. Wetlands that produce high-quality bedding opportunities are my absolute favorite spots to hunt and scout.
If wetlands do not provide high-quality bedding into the fall then the deer will likely move to a fall range. However, if the bedding in the wetlands is thick and secluded throughout the year there’s a good chance it’s a big buck hotspot.
During summer months deer are often found bedding in wetlands to keep cool from the brutal heat. Whitetails seek cooler moist soils found in wetlands to help lower their body temperature which reduces energy expenditure.
A few of my favorite wetland vegetation species for whitetails include; dogwoods, cattails, speckled alder, winterberry, and switchgrass. Wetlands comprised of these species create hard to get to, thick, dense, nasty cover. Bucks feel comfortable in areas like this and will move more during daylight hours during the hunting season. Bucks will generally leave more rut sign in these areas. Many of my best hunting stands are located in wetlands where I’ve observed mature buck sign during previous scouting missions.
Even when leaves drop in the fall wetlands can still provide adequate cover. Since bucks are looking for security over all other factors in pressured settings, wetlands offer prime opportunities for high-quality bedding.
In my experience bucks bedding in high-quality bedding areas located within a wetland often remain in that wetland into fall as long as there are pockets of dry higher ground for bedding. This keeps bucks off of wetter soils during the cooler months. Wetlands are my favorite type of habitat to hunt bucks because of this.
I’ve been able to pattern bucks better in wetland scenarios like this better than any other habitat. Trail cameras in wetlands have confirmed bucks use these areas from summer into the fall year after year.
I believe there is no single tool more valuable than having a plethora of stands to choose from for all types of weather conditions during the different phases of the hunting season. More scouting equals more spots to hunt during the upcoming hunting season. Overhunting stands leads to unsuccessful hunting seasons for most hunters trying to kill big bucks. My best tip for scouting deer in August is to get as many treestands areas with good buck sign. This way you have a good rotation for the fall.
Increasing the number of stands locations reduces pressure per stand and enables me to spread out pressure out among these stands. When preparing treestands during this time of year it is important to do it as non invasively as possible so as to not disturb doe family groups or specific bucks. I prepare my stands to take advantage of as many wind directions that I logically can. This way I have opportunities to hunt an area more often. I’ve frustrated myself in the past by not placing enough stands for certain few wind directions. This greatly reduced time I was able to hunt and my success.
Treestands used during prevailing winds can be over-hunted quickly which will burn those stands for the rest of the season. This reduces the chances of harvesting a big buck. Keep this in mind when setting up treestands during this time of year. Setting additional stands up for the prevailing winds will likely be very beneficial for the upcoming season.
During scouting missions in August, you may be tempted to place treestands over heavily used trails. This is more often than not a mistake. Patterns will change a lot from now until the hunting season starts. I used to make this mistake a lot early on in my hunting career. When I started setting up specifically on rut sign (even in the summer) my success increased dramatically. The images below show one example of big rubs I discovered during a summer scouting mission in 2017. When I set my trail camera up I captured the buck who made these rubs in the fall.
Although I do most of my scouting in spring I have found great hunting spots in August. No matter what time of year I am scouting I focus my efforts on finding big buck rut sign in the shape of big rubs and scrapes and their proximity to a high-quality bedding area. I refrain from going into bedding areas to keep stress levels at a minimum.
If the property has good buck sign I’ll prepare a tree that day. Accomplishing everything in one day keeps stress levels at a minimum. Repeated invasions from entering an area multiple times to set up a stand will likely increase deer stress levels. This could cause deer to change patterns. Keeping invasions to a minimum is a must.
I placed my trail cameras out around the 4th of July, I will start checking my trail cameras at the beginning of August. This is an exciting time because this will be my first true trail camera check with antlers close to their peak. From these photos, I will determine my hitlist for the season.
CREATING A HITLIST
Creating a Hitlist has a lot of value to me. I am able to tell what caliber bucks are living in a particular area. Determining the caliber of bucks before hunting makes decision making while hunting much easier on whether to pass or shoot a buck. In a hunting situation, I will quickly be able to judge if the buck is a shooter or not because I have already decided from photos during August. This will help reduce the odds of pulling the trigger on a buck that is not what I am looking for and gives me confidence more in the field. Below you can see my Hitlist for 2017.
My pre-season regimen for August is very similar to that of July. Deer are often in the same in August as they were in July but could be hitting a different local food source. By August I like to have my bow tuning and gear, projects wrapped up and be shooting confidently and feeling ready for the season. I am still glassing and shining fields in hopes to locate a mature buck feeding so I can try to puzzle together where he’s feeding.
Whitetails, especially bucks, drastically change up their patterns in September. Deer summer patterns start to diminish and fall patterns emerge. I hope you found this post on how to scout deer in August to be helpful. Stay ahead of the game by reading How to Scout & Hunt Deer in September | The September Fall Shift.