Pre-Scouting – Gateway to Success

Oregon Blacktails – Just out of velvet from rubbing. All photos by Frank Biggs.

by Frank Biggs

Successful hunting is all about applying knowledge from your own experiences, listening, and learning from others that have mentored you along the way.  Eventually, you'll find that the skill of scouting encompasses everything you know about hunting.

It is hard work 'bringing home the bacon,' as they say, and scouting out where the game is, and its habits, is a major advantage in a successful hunt.   

Reminiscing to my past, there was no such thing as scouting, as I relied on my mentors directing me to their hunting spots in Oregon.  It was not uncommon for our group to come rolling in the night before opening day after a year of absence from the hunting spot.  Everyone would have their favorite spot to hunt the opening day, with no knowledge what might have changed from the year before.   Success could be good or it could be a blank hunt.  

It wasn’t until I drew a Pronghorn tag for Oregon- in a unit that my Commanding Officer had hunted many times, and knew the local BLM summer help, that I realized the importance of scouting. We had arrived a few days before the hunt and with the Intel given to us, we traveled many miles in the unit and glassed and glassed, setting up an A, B, C, & D game plan for the opening day.   Plan A brought an enormous antelope into play and it paid off with a Boone & Crocket Pronghorn.   The key was that CMDR Rod Briece knew the habits of Pronghorns…

Each Big Game animal is different so scouting to find the game and familiarize yourself with its habits before hinting season is essential.

Oregon hunters get their tag draw results in mid-June.  So if you draw a tag in the Central or Eastern part of the state you are not familiar with,  I strongly suggest you take at least a 4-day trip a good month before the hunt time, scouting the hunt unit, covering as much ground as you can.  You should be fairly close to your first scouting area before first light and hit the sleeping bag after dark.

My personal plan for scouting starts at the end of April when most of the deer and even elk have dropped with antlers.   The growth of new antlers is a quick process and the bucks and bulls are out feeding just about any time during this period through to August and the first full moon.   All big game animals with antlers have to feed vigorously to gain antler growth.  I have had my best times for the past 10 years from 7:15 p.m. and good to about 8:30 p.m.   Working the evening in target areas can be very rewarding in knowing the amount of game and their habits.   No matter what the time is, if I am on the road in the field, I am always scouting.

Much of the game can be on private land, so I carry a Garmin Colored GPS, with onXmaps, which tells me how close public land is to my target areas.   There is also a mobile side of onXmaps for hunters who do not want to use a GPS.   Using this mapping software or APP, I can even find the land owner and just maybe get permission to hunt…

Frank Biggs, aka Bwana Bubba, is an avid hunter and well-traveled outdoor enthusiast now writing and sharing his experiences with Using his years served in the U.S. Navy- Vietnam (5th Marine Division), Biggs applies his keen sense of observation, and eye for the unusual when it comes to mentoring and educating others in the skill of hunting. Biggs is a member of the OnXmaps HUNT Pro-Staff. He is currently a Sr. Sales Consultant for B Young RV in Portland, Oregon and retired Vice President (Store Operations) for Burns Bros. Travel Stops. His specialty is helping hunters find spots to hunt. He can be reached at