Late Season Scouting Tips That Will Pay Off Next October


Deer hunting is over for the season and the icy winds of late winter have swept bare the timber, leaving only the skeleton like bare limbs silhouetted against the cold sky. Long past are the days of sitting comfortably in your stand, listening to the white oak acorns rain down on the forest floor to lie among the brilliantly colored Autumn vegetation. Instead of sitting back passively while your primal need for the challenge of the hunt gnaws at your gut, put down the television remote and go do your reconnaissance on that new spot you’ve been wanting to hunt.

Pictured above is my mentor Johnnie Taylor. He has caused the demise of more whitetail bucks than chronic wasting disease and deer still tremble at the sound of his name. Years ago he taught me bow hunting and instilled in me a philosophy that still holds true today, “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”

IMG_20160122_165203IMG_20160122_165218IMG_20160122_165358 During the wet Winter months while the ground is either muddy or snow covered, much of the initial scouting can be done from the climate controlled comfort of your truck seat. With a hunting buddy for a spotter, obvious road crossings like these can be spotted at thirty miles per hour. I like to find places where the deer habitually cross the roadways to give me a general idea of the herd movement, especially when my crew and I are in unfamiliar territory.

When I don’t know the area, I find that modern technology really shines and google maps has found a place in my arsenal of hunting tools. My son turned me on to this app last firearms season when we ventured out to find new hunting ground.

He and I made a bow hunting excursion a week prior to the gun hunt to get an idea of the terrain and road access points in relation to the Eleven Point River bottom. A friend had given us directions and a Forestry Service road number to an area of the Mark Twain National Forest which he assured me, “not many people hunt.” Not many, being a relative term I suppose, but that’s another story. After a quick impromptu hunt we began driving the rocky dirt roads searching for potential hunting spots, guided by motor vehicle use maps provided by the Forest Service and Google Maps. The app proved to be invaluable by showing terrain features such as the main ridges, draws, hollows, and other features that saved quite a bit of time and effort.

Mike McIntrye
Mike McIntyre

Google Earth is an even better tool according to CS Outdoors Prostaffer, Mike McIntyre. In a podcast interview hosted by Whitetail Rendezvous’s Bruce Hutcheon, McIntyre said, ““I think we have so many modern conveniences at our disposal right now, in this day and age, that it really takes so much of the physical effort out of scouting a new piece of property. One of the things that we’ve really evolved, started doing is using Google Earth. It’s a great resource. It’s a free resource. Whenever we start looking at a new piece of property, either be it for a consultation or if it’s a piece of property we picked up to start a lease on, that’s one of the very first things we do is get on Google earth and really start scouting the property from the satellite image.

It’s such a great tool to use. You can actually see some of the terrain features. You can actually zoom in and out and tilt it to an angle where you can actually see hills that are rolling. You can kind of see where some draws are, where in a two-dimensional world, before you could never really do that just by looking at a map on a piece of paper. So Google Earth has really just turned it into an invaluable resource for us.


IMG_20160123_091024IMG_20160123_090918Finding the road crossings should give you the general area you wish to hunt initially and satellite technology gives a hunter a head start on deciding where the funnels are. Modern conveniences are wonderful, but there comes a time when a hunter has to put on his walking boots and put in the leg work necessary to make educated guesses in the field. An advantage to scouting in late winter is the clarity in which trails stand out since the weather is typically wet and the leaves have begun to decompose. These factors coupled with steady deer traffic result in a well worn path. We all know that whitetails meander about, browsing here and there, and  picking up acorns at random. I’m not saying they step in the same tracks every time, I’m referring to travel routes, river crossings, funnels, and where they skirt the head of a draw.

When your scouting no detail should be to small to give your attention to. Tracks, beds, antler sheds, hooked bushes, and droppings all tell you something of the quarry we seek. For great information and more hunting tips check out the good folks at CS Outdoors and Whitetail Rendezvous. Until next time, “Keep your powder dry and your nose in the wind.”



Youth Portion Missouri Deer Season


A gloomy dawn illuminated the hardwood timber lands on opening morning of the Missouri youth season and the peppering rain showed no sign of letting up. A weak storm front had formed overnight providing hunters a soggy proposition, not to mention a wet rear end. Young up and coming hunters all across the State toughed out the weather and made the forest echo with the sound of rifle shots as many of them harvested their first deer.

 Jake Caperton 2014 Buck


Ripley County is nestled in the Ozark foothills along the banks of the pristine Current River. There is an abundance of both privately owned and public hunting land, including a vast swath of Mark Twain National Forest. The area has historically produced some very nice trophy whitetail bucks due to good stewardship by landowners and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

There is a close knit sense of community at the County Seat located in Doniphan and the local news paper, the Prospect News fosters that spirit well. For decades the Paper has supported the local student’s sporting events and graciously photographed young hunters with their deer and turkey, promoting self esteem and a sense of belonging.

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The Prospect News reported; After ranking tenth in the state last year,according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the 249 deer taken in Ripley County during the two day hunt was good enough to place fourth out of 114 counties.

Southern Missouri, like most rural areas, is a place where they still believe in working hard and playing harder. Residents here take deer hunting seriously, youth hunters as well as the “Big Kids” anticipate opening day as much as Christmas morning.

It’s gratifying to see the next generation embracing the culture of the hunt, inherited from their fathers and their grandfathers before them. Thanks to these fine young men and women, in Ripley County the tradition will live on.


Missouri Department of Conservation News Release

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announced that young hunters ages 6 through 15 checked 14,095 deer during Missouri’s early youth portion of the 2015 deer hunting season, which ran Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Top counties for the early youth portion were Franklin with 338, Osage with 337, and Howell with 288 deer checked. Last year’s harvest total for the early youth portion was 18,091.

Get more information on deer hunting in Missouri through MDC’s free 2015 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available where permits are sold, from MDC regional offices and nature centers, and online at

Johnnie Taylor Local Legend of the Hunt – JD’s Writing Showcase

Johnnie Taylor is about to embark on what the locals refer to as his World Tour in pursuit of trophy whitetail deer. Every fall he chases the ultimate buck from state to state and usually it’s not, if he will get a trophy, it’s how many. Johnnie is a revered local character, not only because he puts into practice what all hunters dream of, in large part because of his personality, his infectious good humor, and his leadership in the community. Perhaps his Granddaughter captured the sentiment best in a Facebook post to wish a “Happy Birthday to our tobacco spitting, watermelon growing, deer slaying Grandpa.

She certainly got the watermelon part correct, Johnnie is the largest producer of melons in the region and that  is certainly responsible for at least part of his notoriety. I recently stopped to visit with the Taylor family on a blistering hot August day while the harvest was in full swing. Johnnie grinned and winked at me, “JD, I probably won’t weigh 275 pounds when this is over,” making a joke at being slightly heavy. As the last trailer truck load of the season left the dock Johnnie was loading his pick up with choice watermelons to bring with him on his “public relations” trip, a yearly visit spanning several states where he brings melons to the landowners who allow him to hunt their property.

The trip begins in Arkansas through Missouri then to Illinois. Kansas and Nebraska are next then back home, all to secure hunting privileges. Beginning in mid October he will travel to whichever state has an open season at that time, modern firearm, muzzle loader, or his old standby bow hunting. He spends the winter like a Nomad, hunting and sightseeing, returning home often but always ready for new horizons. I asked him why he goes to all the trouble of traveling when he could hunt closer to home, he simply said ” I’d rather look at the world through the windshield of my truck than sit on the couch.”

Johnnie Taylor was born in 1949, delivered by a local midwife on the family farm, and attended a small two room school in the community of Palatka, Ar. Growing up in rural northeast Arkansas everyone chopped cotton and money was scarce in every household. For entertainment everyone gathered at a country store up the road where the old men played dominoes while the children played marbles or some other game, it almost sounds like an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, minus Barney Fife.

Johnnie was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he served his tour in 68-69, then returned to the farm with out a scratch. He was later shot while turkey hunting by a poacher with a .22magnum rifle (only shotguns are legal). The bullet entered his abdomen and lodged near his spine but he eventually made a full recovery.

Johnnie Taylor went on to build a successful watermelon business, raise a family, and pursue his passions of bass fishing and hunting trophy whitetails. He continues to dedicate his time, money, and efforts to these passions and to spoiling his three beautiful Grand Daughters.

Source: Johnnie Taylor Local Legend of the Hunt – JD’s Writing Showcase