Wisconsin Deer Bow Season 2017 – Pre Season Scouting

Wisconsin Deer Bow Season 2017 - Scouting the woods!
Wisconsin Deer Bow Season 2017 – Scouting the woods!

I spent most of my Labor Day weekend this year doing some prep scouting for the Wisconsin deer bow season.  I also tackled going through my hunting gear that I like to use when bow hunting.  The opener archery and crossbow season is a just a few weeks away, and hunters all around the state will be hitting the woods.

But not me!  I usually don’t hunt the opening weekend.  It’s still a little warm out.  Instead I use the month of September to do more scouting in preparation for hunting the last half of October and into November.

I like to hunt when it’s cooler outside.  It still can be pretty warm in September.  Of course, if there is a cold snap that comes in I’ll be out in the woods.

Wisconsin Deer Bow Season 2017 – A Day In The Woods

My Wisconsin deer bow season scouting usually starts in the Spring.  That’s when I do some hiking and looking over my favorite hunting spots just to see how they came through the winter.  Did a tree fall over?  Are the deer trails still the same or have the deer altered their patterns?

Those are a few things I ask myself as I walk around in the woods I like to hunt in.

After that initial look around, I usually stay out of the woods I like to hunt in until late summer.

I hunt the public land that surrounds my cabin.  It’s a big area, but it does get hunted with a fair amount of pressure.  Bear, turkey, game birds, small game, deer… all can be found in the area around my cabin.  We even have a large amount of wolves.  It’s inside of the Norther Forest Zone in Wisconsin.  Beautiful area.

So it’s this time of year, a few weeks before the archery and crossbow opener, I get out in the woods and really scout the couple places I like to hunt.  This past Saturday I did just that.

I have three spots picked out that I know better than the back of my hand.  And one of them is by far a favorite location of the three.  I spent a couple hours at the spot on Sunday.

I started out my day early.  A cousin of mine was at the cabin with some buddies and he asked to ‘close’ it for the labor day weekend.  So I couldn’t stay there Friday night.  I instead got up early Saturday morning with the dawn and tossed my day pack in my SUV and for the two hour drive north.

It was rainy out during my drive, but I knew it was supposed to turn partly sunny by noon.  My drive was uneventful.  I reached the back-roads that lead into the woods around 8am.

I parked out of the way along a road, grabbed my medium Alice Pack, and hiked into the woods.  The area is crisscrossed with old horse trails.  So I walked in along one of them looking for any tracks I could find, or other signs of wildlife in the area.  In particular I was looking for deer, coyote, and wolf tracks.

With the rain the night before and the heavy rain just an hour earlier, I didn’t see any actual tracks.  But I did spot a fair amount of droppings, old and fresh.

My Primary Deer Hunting Spot

I also rifle hunt deer later in the year, but I don’t bow hunt where I rifle hunt.  Like I mentioned above, I have a few sights selected for bow hunting.  But one is my favorite, and I came across it in the spring when I was up for a woods walking weekend.  It looked good, so I kept it fresh in my head to check out come lat summer.

And that’s what I was doing this past Saturday.

It’s a great spot located in a transition zone between where the white tails bed and eat.  Dozens of trails pass through the area, and there are several large crossroads.  The woods is a mixture of young jack pine and moderate aged Hills Oak, but the pine outnumber the oak.

To the north about one hundred yards from my stand is a horse trail.  To the east and west there are also some horse trails a couple hundred yards away.  The trails are actually large enough to drive on, and people do.  I don’t however, but have used them in the past with my game cart to haul deer out of the woods.

Like I said it’s a good spot, lots of deer traffic, and if I harvest one I shouldn’t have a long drag to get to a trail were I can easily collect the animal with my game cart.

I spent a couple hours at that spot picking out the best location to place my pop up ground blind, as I don’t bow hunt from a tree.  “Ground Pounder”, that’s what they call people like me who hunt from the ground.  Sometimes I’ll just sit under a tree in my camo, but a couple years ago I started using a portable pop up blind.

I got into using a pop up blind because it was always raining that year when I wanted to go hunting.  Hunting in the rain sucks.  Being dry in a ground blind is so much better.

I found an ideal spot for my ground blind and made mental not of it, as well as took several pictures of the area with my phone, along with some video.

There were a couple of small jack pine that were dead that I knocked over to clear up the area.  Mostly I leave trees alone.  I know many hunters will clear shooting lanes, but I don’t do that.  My preference is to leave the woods pretty much as it is.  Part of finding a good bow location is finding a section of woods that doesn’t require altering the woods.

For this location most shots will be between twenty to thirty yards.  I have one direction where I can shoot as far as forty, but I’ve never taken a shot that long.  The farthest with a bow so far has only been twenty-five yards.  Well within my comfort zone.

Baiting Deer – To Do It Or Not?

I haven’t ever baited for deer ever before.  In fact for a few years it was illegal to do so in the county I was hunting in.  This year the Wisconsin DNR lifted the bait ban and I bought some ‘bait’.

Actually, I am not sure it is really bait.  Is a small five pound mineral lick considered deer bait?  Yeah, I suppose it is.  Anyway, I bought a couple small mineral licks and tossed them out away from my blind just off where several deer trails intersect.

This time of year they are the deer are in groups and working to put on some weight for the coming rut and winter.  So I figured why not give them a little boost!  The licks I put out are not going to do anything to attract deer to the area.  But deer using the area to transition from bedding and feeding will get something from them.


Now, deer scents are another story.  I use straight doe urine, not the kind that has estrous in it, just regular doe pee.  I tie a rag to the end of a five foot piece of strong, and then tie the other end to my ankle.  Then I put some doe pee on the rag and walk into the woods.

I only use the doe urine when I am hunting.  It helps cover my scent in the woods, and it relaxes deer when they smell fresh deer urine in the area.

When out scouting like I was this past Saturday I don’t use any scents.  I just hike in and get my work down.


I spent a couple hours in the woods looking around the area I plan to setup and hunt.  The woods was very green, but that will be changing over the next several weeks.

After I was done I headed over to my other hunting spots and gave them the once over as well.  I didn’t put out any mineral licks at the other locations.  But I did sit and eat lunch.

The sun popped out around noon.  So I wandered off into the woods and found an nice oak ridge to sit on as I heated up some water and ate a dehydrated meal.

I plan on heading back in a couple weeks, on the weekend of the bow hunting opener actually.  My plan is to take another hike in the woods and see if anybody is hunting around my selected locations.

Want to learn more about hunting in Wisconsin?  Check out the website for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.



TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand, www.folklore-coffee.com.

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