Two beady eyes appear in the brush. Paws slowly slink forward, softly landing on wet leaves without a sound. Slow movements go unnoticed by the keenest of eyes. A predator creeps closer to its prey. It’s almost there, and the unsuspecting prey animal is none the wiser. That’s also what it’s like to be a predator hunter and have one of these animals creep up on you. Except, hopefully you see it coming long before it gets too close or picks you off.

Most predator hunters focus on coyotes; after all, these are the most abundant of predators in North America. They span the Lower 48, Canada, and Mexico. But they aren’t the only options for those who like hunting toothy critters. Bobcats, foxes, and even mountain lions are on the table. As such, from coast to coast, here are four predator hunting trips to consider tackling this winter.

Winter predator trips

Taking a high-quality predator hunting trip should be on every hunter’s wintertime list.

Winter Predator Hunting Trips

Good glass is important for any predator hunt, but especially when hunting in more open terrain.

Predator Hunting Trip No. 1: Western Coyote Hunt

Most coyote hunters live in the East, and dream of going West. It’s time to make that happen. There are plenty of states that offer great coyote hunting (at least in pockets), some states stand out and offer greater calling experiences. Some of these include Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.

Arizona doesn’t allow trapping on public lands, which boosts the numbers there. Unless selling the firs (which requires a trapping license), Nevada might just be the cheapest place to hunt. Texas also has plenty of bobcats and fox, as add-on hunts, too. Regardless of the details, each of the mentioned states offer big incentives to go there.

In most places, the best time to go on this adventure is February. That’s the peak of the breeding season for coyotes, which is when these animals are most active. Furthermore, food sources are more limited and therefore these are more receptive to calling.

western coyote - Predator Hunting Trips

Coyotes can be found from coast to coast—from your backyard to the backcountry—making for the most accessible predator hunting you'll find.

DIY Option: Most of the key coyote states have an abundance of public lands. Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico are rich with it. Colorado has more than 22 million acres of public. Montana is 44 percent public. Wyoming is more than 55 percent public. Of course, at 95 percent private lands, Texas has very little of it.

Guided Option: According to GuideFitter, more than 160 outfitters are offering guided coyote hunts. Many of these are in the key states previously mentioned.

HuntStand Help: While landowners are ever-increasingly saying “no” to deer hunters, predator hunters get the green light more than any other hunters. That’s good news for coyote hunters, and HuntStand can help secure that much-needed permission, even on the fly. Merely consult the Property Info map layer to secure leads on potential honey holes.



Geared for the Hunt:

Those who go on that western coyote hunting trip of a lifetime will benefit from a good e-caller, such as the HME Eichler Single Game Call. It offers a maximum of 120db output and sports 8GB internal memory. It also features two external jacks for secondary speakers, auxiliary output to trigger motorized (and synced) decoys, sound overlay (playing two sounds at once), 40 pre-loaded calls, customizable quicksets, and much more. Use code PRED50 to get 50 percent off!

Fred Eichler Single Caller

Predator Hunting Trip No. 2: Middle-America Bobcat Hunt

At approximately 21 inches tall, 35 inches long, and 25 pounds heavy, the bobcat isn’t a big animal. But it is a big challenge. It takes years of practice to become highly skilled, but fortunately, some places shorten that learning curve with higher populations and hunter-friendly habitat types.

Oklahoma allows hunters to take more bobcats than most states. Texas has no season limit, which is also good for longer hunts. Interestingly, Georgia is a large producer of bobcat harvests. Oftentimes, that number ranges from 2,000-3,000. Kentucky also falls into that range, with 1,500-3,000 annually. Missouri kicks up about 4,000-5,000. And Kansas is habitually a top producer at 5,000-7,000.

bobcat - Predator Hunting Trips

Bobcats are unique predators that provide a uniquely challenging pursuit.

DIY Option: While Kentucky, Kansas, and Texas have minimal amounts of public lands, Georgia and Missouri have decent amounts. Remember, any areas that no longer permit trapping (certain public lands), are key hotspots for bobcats and other predators.

Guided Option: According to GuideFitter, it has nearly 90 bobcat outfitter listings. The majority of this are in the Southwest, as well as middle America.

HuntStand Help: Bobcats are very adaptable and live in a wide range of habitat types. In fact, they are found throughout the continental 48 states, Canada, and Mexico. But they do tend to weave a common thread regarding where they spend many of their daytime hours. They oftentimes den up around rocky areas, or where those aren’t present, fallen logs. Use HuntStand’s variety of aerial map layers to find rocky places.

Geared for the Hunt: Bobcats are cunning. Oftentimes, they need both visual and audible confirmation to completely commit. To that end, the HME Mantis Pro Decoy is a great product to include in the hunt. Its motorized assembly form fits to the attachment and gives those crazy cats something to look at as they creep into range. It comes with a quiet motor, adjustable speed control, lifelike motion, and more.

HME Mantir Pro Decoy

Predator Hunting Trip No. 3: Western Mountain Lion Hunt

Mountain lion hunting is a big thing out West, and those who hope to chase that adventure have some big challenges ahead. These animals aren’t easy to hunt, and whether you go with hounds, or not, it’s going to be a difficult hunt. It takes serious skill and understanding.

mountain lion - Predator Hunting Trips

The biggest wild cats in North America are also the most secretive, typically inhabiting large tracts of secluded land.

DIY Option: Fortunately, several states are popular destinations for mountain lion hunts. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah are excellent destinations. Each of these have vast public lands, which are perfect for areas that allow hound hunting.

Guided Option: For first-time hunters, guided hunts are oftentimes the best route. According to GuideFitter, it has more than 200 outfitter listings available for hunting mountain lions.

HuntStand Help: Mountain lion hunting takes part largely on public lands. Use the app’s hunting lands and public lands layers to find potential hotspots.

Geared for the Hunt: Those who do plan a mountain lion hunt will need a good day pack. The Tenzing TZ 2220 is a great option. It has 11 compartments, eight organizational pockets, and a 2,400-cubic-inch volume. Plus, it weighs only 5 pounds. Furthermore, it has a fold-out rain cover and is H20 compatible. It also has a fold-out bow and gun carrying boot, which is necessary for those longer hikes.

tenzing tz2220

Predator Hunting Trip No. 4: Eastern Fox Hunt

The American red fox and gray fox are rarities in some places, but quite abundant in others. Still, there’s no better place to chase these animals than the East, especially the lower portion of the Northeast region. Fox hunting has a rich history there, and the heritage is incredible. These animals might be only 15 inches tall, 35 inches long, and 10-12 pounds, but they have a big following.

There are several key states to try. Three of the best include Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. According to some sources, Virginia has more fox hunting clubs than any other state in the nation.

DIY Option: Maryland has 64 public WMAs totaling about 130,000 acres. And Virginia offers more than 3.5 million acres of public via eight different public land types, including national forests, Public Access (PALS), federal refuges, military areas, state forests, state parks, WMAs, and more. Pennsylvania offers numerous options, too, including the Hunter Access Program (HAP), state game lands, etc. Find a public place to hunt using the Pennsylvania Public Lands Mapping Center.

Guided Option: Several eastern outfitters are listed for predator hunting on GuideFitter. These are potential destinations to consider for an eastern fox hunt.

HuntStand Help: While foxes don’t get quite the press as bobcats and coyotes, these animals are very adept at staying alive and sniffing out a hunter. Because of this, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the wind direction and continue to monitor it throughout the hunt. HuntStand’s HuntZone wind map is perfect for this, and even shows hourly predictions days in advance. Furthermore, foxes are really drawn to mixed habitat, especially areas with a lot of CRP, ditches, drainages, small pockets of cover, and other areas that hold an abundance of small prey animals. Use aerial maps to find these terrain features.

Geared for the Hunt: For those who are all-in on prey sounds, the Flextone Dying Rabbit is an excellent option for calling wily foxes. It’s a great option for close- and long-range calling. Its flexible body helps control volume and tone very well. Use code PRED50 to get 50 percent off!

dying rabbit

Overall, there are many different predator hunting adventures throughout America. But the four options outlined here are excellent routes for those seeking something they’ve never done before. Good luck, and safe hunting.

Deer hunters have never had more powerful tools at their disposal than they do today. Cellular trail cameras, advanced rangefinders, intuitive scopes, and the list goes on. But perhaps the most beneficial tool is right there at your fingertips—your smartphone. I’m talking about the HuntStand app, and more specifically, the exciting new HuntStand Pro Whitetail upgrade that brings many valuable new features. For serious deer hunters, it’s essential gear.

Serious hunter on stand

HuntStand Pro Whitetail brings several ground-breaking features including the Whitetail Activity Forecast built to help you hunt the right stand at the right time.

With HuntStand Pro

HuntStand has been available for years, and the proven “HuntStand Pro” tier offers incredibly powerful tools of its own. Many hunters are taking advantage of its many benefits, including:

  • Property owner data
  • Property line data
  • Advanced property searches
  • Premium map layers (property details, public lands, etc.)
  • Trail camera management
  • Stand reservations
  • Real 3D mapping
  • Offline mapping
  • Weather overlays
  • And more

NEW HuntStand Pro Whitetail Upgrade

Each of the above factors are game changers on their own, but the latest addition to HuntStand, which is appropriately dubbed “Pro Whitetail,” is designed for serious deer hunters. You get everything you already love about “Pro”—with the addition of numerous advantages that are even more impactful.

Upgrade to Pro Whitetail: Get The Whitetail Activity Forecast & More!

“With HuntStand Pro Whitetail you can learn more about whitetail movements and whitetail biology, including breeding periods,” said HuntStand Wildlife Biologist Brian Murphy. “This helps time hunting trips to maximize success during the time allotted.”

New Whitetail Activity Forecast
Activity Forecast Screen

The Whitetail Activity Forecast feature is a ground-breaking prediction tool that holds serious benefits for deer hunters. It’s driven by a state-of-the-art algorithm that’s unlike any other prediction tool on the market. Overall, it factors in precise breeding timelines for the specific county, time of day, barometric pressure, temperature changes, wind speed, precipitation, moon phase, etc. These things are processed as data to provide hunters with the most accurate deer movement prediction tool.

Trophy Buck w/Doe

The HuntStand Whitetail Activity Forecast considers breeding timelines for the specific county, time of day, barometric pressure, temperature changes, wind speed, precipitation, moon phase, and more. Combining this data provides hunters with the most accurate deer movement prediction tool.

“This has never been done before,” Murphy said. “At least, not in a biologically sound way, to my knowledge. This model considers things no other model before it has. It has the breeding timing for each county in America, using the new HuntStand Rut Map data. Because without the Rut Map—which had never been done before—no one could have possibly included that information in their models. There are so many unique ruts throughout the country. This forecast tool considers the specific ruts in each area.”

Whitetail Activity ChartsThis screen view of the Whitetail Activity Forecast (shown above) shows helpful 7-Day Whitetail Activity Charts. Here, you can scroll hour-by-hour over the next seven days to determine when daytime activity levels will be highest.

Make the Most of your Hunt

Naturally, something like this has many real-world benefits. Being able to accurately predict when deer are more likely to move is a very useful thing, especially for those with limited hunt time. When someone is cashing in hard-earned time away from work, and especially family, they don’t want to waste it.

Ground hunter during rut

You might know how the rut unfolds in your local area, but traveling hunters, especially, can benefit from the new Whitetail Rut Map info that offers detailed, site-specific information on all the whitetail states across the nation.

“This is not just another ‘back-of-the-napkin’ moon phase predictor or some nationwide generic predictor,” Murphy said. “This is a tailored, unique, biologically driven model that I believe is the most-superior activity predictor of its kind ever created. And it was built with input from some of the top deer minds in the country, including many whitetail Phds who made sure we were on the right track at every turn. No tool has ever been fine-tuned to factor in when a particular deer herd ruts at the county level.”

Considers All Deer Movement Factors

Because it was meant to be accurate, and not just a gimmick, each influential factor that impacts deer movement is weight-rated and ranked based on importance. It’s a scientific community-driven model by all those who chipped in their knowledge.

Moon in Sky

Most deer movement predictors take into consideration just one factor such as moon phase, making their accuracy questionable at best. The HuntStand Whitetail Activity Forecast makes use of a comprehensive set of deer-movement variables, backed by decades of scientific research.

“It weighs these things in a mathematical model that has hundreds of thousands of combinations,” Murphy said. “This algorithm is a monster, because there are so many different possible combinations, including weather, time, date, and more.”

Works All Season Long

Being able to do that is a very useful thing, especially when looking to maximize the efficiency of your hunt. And you will benefit whether your hunt unfolds during the early season, pre-rut, rut, post-rut, or even late season.


“With the Whitetail Activity Forecast you can go hour by hour or day by day seven days into the future, and see when deer activity is likely to peak.”

Brian Murphy

HuntStand Staff Wildlife Biologist

“With the Whitetail Activity Forecast you can go hour by hour or day by day seven days into the future, and see when deer activity is likely to peak,” Murphy said. “If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you can use this tool to determine when to hunt to be most successful.”

New Nationwide Rut Map

Another incredible tool that comes with the HuntStand Pro Whitetail upgrade is the “Nationwide Rut Map.” This too, is the first of its kind. Never has the country’s entire rut data been synchronized in such a way. And we’re talking all phases of the rut for specific locations.
Pro Rut MapSimply tap the Whitetail Rut Map screen where you’d like to learn about rut data. Instantly, you’ll see all important rut dates for that very specific area.

“The Nationwide Rut Map details the peak two-week conception period in 43 states and 4,240 counties and parishes,” Murphy said. “This has never been done before; it’s more site-specific information that considers your precise hunting area.”

Hunters of All Skill Levels can Benefit

Of course, this is impactful for all hunters, even those who only hunt locally and think they know when “their” rut unfolds. Chances are most do, especially with years of experience in an area. However, you might be surprised. Personally, I know of numerous experienced hunters who plan to slightly alter their hunt plans due to the HuntStand Nationwide Rut Map.

Trophy Buck Down

Both the new Whitetail Activity Forecast and Whitetail Rut Map offer detailed, site-specific information you can't find anywhere else. These tools help you understand what is going on precisely where you hunt, right now.

Regardless of experience level, the rut map is great for local hunters knowing the best times to be afield. However, it’s even more impactful for the traveling hunter. This tool makes it possible to know when the rut will occur in each destination on the schedule. This makes it more possible to line up trip dates in a way that maximizes the efficiency of each hunt.

New Whitetail Habitat Map

Another benefit of the new HuntStand Pro Whitetail upgrade is another advanced mapping layer. Those who plan to find a place to hunt, and scout new ground, often must do so with limited time. The new heat-map-style “Whitetail Habitat” layer ranks the quality of ground, and helps to pinpoint areas where deer thrive.

Pro Whitetail Habitat

“The Whitetail Habitat layer is a different satellite view of the landscape,” Murphy said. “We partnered with a company to highlight the inherent habitat features that are most suitable for whitetail deer across North America. Looking at that map at the macro level, or zooming in, will show the value for a given area. This is particularly helpful if looking for a new piece of ground, or hunting public land. It will help you pick areas that have naturally superior qualities.”

Simple Color-Coded Guide

As Murphy noted, when scouting large swaths of ground, it’s equally important to identify areas that aren’t of interest—as much as it is to find those that are. This layer helps accomplish that quickly, with a high degree of efficiency. This saves time.

Deer Tracks

Knowing when local whitetails are most likely to be on their feet in daylight is a huge advantage when scheduling hunts. HuntStand Pro Whitetail helps you hunt the right place at the right time.

Areas that are darker red show better bedding cover habitat. It also might indicate quality mast crop destinations and general browse. Areas that are darker blue tend to be lesser quality, at least in the form of cover. These areas can represent crop fields or water sources that deer might frequent.

Upgrade to Pro Whitetail: Get The Rut Map & More!

That said, most deer spend daylight hours within cover, especially mature bucks. And you can’t shoot what you can’t see during legal hunting hours. Therefore, this tool can be great for identifying potential stand locations that will intercept target bucks, and deer in general.

New Crop History Layer

Whitetails are driven by their bellies. While bedding is very important and impacts where deer spend their daylight hours, food controls how and where deer travel. Throughout much of North America, crops play a major role in that. And those who are looking to scout new areas, or need to see what the crop situation is on a distant property, can use the “Crop History” layer to accomplish that.
Pro Whitetail Crop History

Using this tool can help hunters identify what crops are where, and where they have been in the past. You can even study this, compare it to past trail camera photos, and see how changing or rotating crops influenced deer activity over time.

New National Aerial Imagery

Aerial Imagery Screen

As deer hunters, we can never have to many app layers to study the terrain and topography. The “National Aerial Imagery” layer adds to that effect and provides yet another excellent tool to study the habitat and terrain. As you see in the screen image below, it provides a crisp, high-resolution look at the landscape. You’ll see details you might miss with other layers.

Pro Aerial Imagery

As with other terrain-focused layers, this one is very good for seeing where bedding cover, food sources, and water sources might be located. It reveals where deer likely spend time. Even use it to pour over potential staging areas, where deer can likely be intercepted during daylight hours.

A Ground-Breaking Upgrade

Pro Whitetail Success

If you're serious about tasting deer hunting success, the new HuntStand Pro Whitetail upgrade delivers cutting-edge information that's not available elsewhere.

As a veteran whitetail hunter, I’m excited to recommend HuntStand’s new “Pro Whitetail”—it’s easily the most-beneficial app service available to deer hunters everywhere. Bottom line, this ground-breaking upgrade holds features that truly give deer hunters the edge. Especially, when you consider it features scientific data that impacts the specific ground where whitetails live nationwide. Areas that you and your buddies are hunting right now. My take? Do yourself a favor and check into HuntStand Pro Whitetail—a ground-breaking upgrade well worth the price of admission.

A muscled-up buck approaches a cedar tree destined for a scarred future. It’s the whitetail pre-rut and tension is building. Full of frustration, the buck works over the tree, thrashing it up and down with thick neck muscles and heavy antlers. Flakes of bark fly into the air as the deer continues the onslaught. Then, after several minutes of mastery, he inspects his work. The buck seems to approve, and eases on down the trail. Indeed, hunting pre-rut whitetails is an exciting time.

For most hunters in the northern half of the country, the whitetail pre-rut falls during the month of October. It effectively ends sometime later in the month. Of course, many of the southern states experience rut timelines that peak anytime between July (southern Florida) and late February (several southern states). Overall, the rut spans nearly eight months in America. Maybe even better, you can get all the details about the various stages of the rut (in your specific hunting area!) by tapping into the new HuntStand Whitetail Rut Map. It’s one of the incredible new features found in the new Pro Whitetail upgrade, but more on that later.

Pre Rut Monster buck

The pre-rut period finds bucks moving farther during daylight as they search for the first receptive does. This creates more shot opportunities for hunters clued into local travel patterns with help from HuntStand.

Regardless of when the pre-rut occurs in a given location, deer tend to behave the same way. Furthermore, a set list of generalities become common threads. Because of that, a certain process can help you find success just about anywhere whitetails call home. Here’s your 10-step guide to a big pre-rut buck this season with help from HuntStand.

Understand the Dynamics

The pre-rut is a great time for deer hunters. It’s a period when most whitetail bucks have rising testosterone levels, but few if any does are receptive. This leads to a lot of pent-up frustration in bucks, especially during the latter days of the pre-rut. As a result, bucks often venture further during daylight as they search for the first receptive does. This can lead to bucks presenting shot opportunities that haven’t been possible yet.

Upgrade to Pro Whitetail: Get The Rut Map & More!

Naturally, those who understand the dynamics that drive the pre-rut will benefit most. When you know how to capitalize on these dynamics, you are much more likely to succeed and fill a tag. Especially, when it comes to mature whitetails during this special phase of hunting season.

Screen Rut Map Pin

HuntStand Help: Use the many app layers and weather forecast features available to monitor the various factors that impact the pre-rut. Don’t forget the groundbreaking new Whitetail Rut Map available in the Pro Whitetail upgrade clues you into all the important rut dates (see screen above), including the pre-rut, for very specific locations nationwide. Simply tap the Whitetail Rut Map screen and rut data appears for that specific location.

Recognize the Advantage

While bucks’ testosterone and frustration levels are rising, they haven’t yet begun covering the ground they will be during the rut. Rather, while daylight movement continues to gradually increase, mature bucks are still holding fairly tight to their core areas. This creates a blend of increased movement, and the good news is that bucks now can mostly be patterned.

Pre Rut single buck

The pre-rut is a great time to pattern a buck you know is using the area. To help set your ambush, lean on HuntStand to discover its travel patterns and show you when to strike.

For the prepared hunter, this is a mixture of phenomenal opportunity. Hunters who scout and learn a buck’s habits can piece together a plan with a high probability of success. Do the work and it just might lead to a filled tag.

HuntStand Help: Keep track of all trail camera photos of target bucks. Upload each camera location’s affiliated target buck images, so that these are stored within the app and easily viewable. Great camera locations are hot natural scrapes, and also mock scrapes that you create. With this image data plugged in, you’ll see the advantage once a buck presents one.

Find the Sign

2 Buck Rubs

Marking all the fresh rubs in your Hunt Area is an easy way to find rublines that define consistent buck travel patterns.

For those who still haven’t located a deer, start by scouting for buck sign. Where bucks are living, rubs should be appearing in abundance. Searching for droppings, tracks, and trails is good, but rubs and scrapes really tell the tale. Find these and find the deer.

HuntStand Help: Deer are creatures of habit. Usually, barring habitat changes, rut sign is generally located in the same areas each year. By marking rut sign in the app as its discovered, you can sometimes look back on historical information to predict future activity. Marking fresh sign also allows you to piece together travel routes and bedding/feeding cover.

Focus on Habitat and Topography

Those who hunt in hill country should focus on key terrain. Take special note of benches, hubs, leeward ridges, ridge lines, ridge endings, saddles, and other pinch points. These are spots that concentrate deer movement and should be considered for stands. Pre-rut bucks inhabit such areas, and the right location might be in one of these.

Flatlanders typically don’t have the luxury of locating deer by focusing on key topography features. But all hunters can pinpoint big buck hotspots by hitting key habitat types. Deer often bed in early successional growth. This is often referred to as “edge cover.” Deer bed and feed in transition areas such as these.

Pre Rut 3-D

HuntStand Help: There are no better tools than HuntStand’s 3D Map (shown above), Contour, and Terrain app layers for identifying key topographical features advantageous to deer hunters. Likewise, the Contour, Hybrid, Monthly Satellite, Satellite, and Mapbox Satellite app layers are great for gauging the habitat.

Locate the Bed

While deer gradually move more and further during daylight throughout the pre-rut, it still isn’t the rut. Deer aren’t yet running wild, especially mature bucks. Knowing where these deer bed is still crucial for success.

Pre Rut Bedded buck

If you've found a buck's bedding area with help from HuntStand, a last-ditch strategy is to set up as close as possible to catch the pre-rut buck on its feet in daylight.

Often, mature bucks will take the best-available bedding. This might be a brushy bench, or leeward ridge with good horizontal cover. In addition, it could be another area that offers visual, audible, and scent-related advantages. Locate these spots on your hunting grounds, and that’s where the deer will be.

HuntStand Help: Deer tend to bed in predictable areas. These spots offer reprieve from human intrusion. They also provide security benefits that help deer see, hear, and smell threats before they get too close. Knowing the areas to look for via the app can help cross off unlikely areas. Doing so makes it easier to locate high-odds locations, effectively saving time.

Know the Food

Pre Rut Acorns

During the pre rut bucks are still relating to available food sources. Drop pins where fresh deer sign is heaviest.

While the rut is on the horizon, food is still king throughout the pre-rut. Wherever the grub is located is where the deer will be, bucks included. Knowing local food sources is always important. These locations are where deer will be heading in the afternoons. And where they will travel back from, in the mornings.
Pre-rut Corn

Monthly Satellite images in the new Pro Whitetail upgrade will help show if local ag fields have been harvested or not, and what crops they hold.

HuntStand Help: The HuntStand Monthly Satellite app layer in the Pro Whitetail upgrade is an excellent tool for identifying potential food sources. This is especially true for “guesstimating” agricultural status, such as crop rotations, harvest timings, etc.

Home in on Water

Water sources can be very important, too. Generally, deer bed down relatively close to it, as they tend to drink during the day, too. Even a small, stagnant source is enough to support several deer. Even if it’s a short distance from their beds, homing in on water sources can be a great way to intercept a pre-rut buck.

Pre-rut Water Source

Mature bucks love small, secluded water sources near bedding areas. HuntStand aerial view map layers will help uncover them.

HuntStand Help: Mature bucks love small, secluded, quiet, water sources close to bedding cover. By using water-identifying app layers, hunters can discover, and then mark, water sources they wouldn’t otherwise know about.

Pinpoint the Pattern

Pre Rut Buck Moving

Marking each scouting find within the HuntStand app helps paint a picture of how a buck lives and maneuvers throughout a hunting property. Winning stand sites follow.

Maybe you’ve found the right topographical features, habitat types, and located good sign. If you’ve also found some bedding cover, food sources, and watering holes, it’s time to pinpoint the pattern. Analyzing how deer are traveling from point A to B is an excellent way to find success. Understanding these lines of movement, and intercepting deer along these travel routes, is the best way to find consistent pre-rut success.

Upgrade to Pro Whitetail: Get The Whitetail Activity Forecast & More!

HuntStand Help: Marking each scouting find within the HuntStand app can help paint a picture of how a buck lives on and maneuvers throughout a hunting property. Drop those pins and include special notes. This helps hunters visualize the “whole picture.” When considered from detailed aerial views, it helps us see things we tend to miss. This is a huge advantage.

Hunt the Weather Fronts

Because the pre-rut stills finds bucks in specific patterns, the pre-rut is all about finding a specific target buck. Once you’ve figured out its pattern, wait for prime conditions. HuntStand will lead the way. Most research on weather’s impacts on deer movement is conflicting. However, my anecdotal experience suggests that rain events and temperature drops ignite October deer movement. Fronts are great, and hunting on these high-odds days is an excellent pre-rut maneuver.

First WAF Screen

HuntStand Help: By monitoring the detailed and accurate weather forecasts, hunters can keep an eye on great opportunities to come. Also, the ground-breaking new Whitetail Activity Forecast in the new Pro Whitetail upgrade is a “when to hunt” game changer. This seven-day Whitetail Activity Forecast (see screen above) shows, at a glance, each day’s deer activity level score for your very specific hunt area. The higher the score, the better your odds of witnessing deer activity on a given day.

Stage a Fight

Pre Rut Decoy

A well-placed decoy and appropriate calling and rattling can tick off a pre-rut buck just enough to lure it within range.

You say numerous pre-rut sits have failed to produce a sighting of your target buck? Or shooter bucks continue to skirt just out of range? It’s time to consider staging a fight to lure one in close for a shot. A well-placed buck decoy and appropriate calling and rattling can tick off a buck just enough to bring it in.

Place the decoy approximately 15 yards from your position, to where it’s quartering toward you. Most dominant bucks will circle downwind and approach a buck decoy head-on. Pairing your well-placed decoy with grunts, snort wheezes, and if necessary, rattling, might be the ticket. It might just be enough to pull your target buck into the setup.

HuntStand Help: Using the HuntStand HuntZone wind direction indicator, hunters can often predict how bucks will approach. Whether responding to calling and/or decoying efforts, know that most every mature buck will approach from downwind. Use this info to your advantage when setting up!

Bonus: Take a Risk

If all else fails, and you know where your target buck is bedding, it’s time to push the envelope. If your target buck isn’t making it within range during shooting hours, try pushing as close as possible to the buck’s suspected bedroom. Set up shop as close as you dare, and wait for that buck to rise from its bed and work your way.

Pre rut Risky Strategy

Still can't seem to catch a pre-rut buck on its feet in daylight? It might be time to push right into the edge of its suspected bedding area: A high-risk, high-reward tactic.

This is a high-risk, high-reward tactic. But when it works, it works. It takes time to master this skill. Slipping within 75 to 100 yards of a bedded deer is no simple task. But with the right habitat, topography, conditions, and stalking abilities, it can be done. Often, it’s the only tactic that works for a pre-rut buck that doesn’t travel far from its bed during daylight.

HuntStand Help: Marking specific beds in the app when you discover them, helps you know how close you are when stalking into position. It can mean the different in pushing just close enough, going too far, or not far enough. Be sure to double-check the HuntZone wind direction before you go.

Pre Rut Buck Success

The pre-rut opens a short window of opportunity for hunters who are prepared to capitalize on consistent buck movement patterns.

Fill That Tag!

The pre-rut is upon us, and with it a window of opportunity will open. But it will open only for those who are prepared to capitalize on it. Hunters who aren’t, must wait for the rut, and who knows what will happen when it arrives. For now, the prepared pre-rut deer hunter armed with HuntStand can make his or her moves, before patterns fade away into rut-crazed chaos. Good luck with your carefully considered pre-rut gameplan!

Hunting with family and friends is one of the greatest opportunities available to outdoorsmen and women. Having that time together is an excellent way to enjoy nature, build relationships, and more. It’s part of hunting’s storied tradition, and rich heritage.

Hunt Club members discussing stands

With large groups of hunters comes increased demands on good communication, both during the hunt season and in the off-season for general upkeep and food plot construction. HuntStand was built to handle it all.

Regardless of who you hunt with, though, millions of hunters throughout the nation are part of hunt clubs and leases. It’s not always easy to navigate the terrain that comes with the territory, if you know what I mean. When groups are involved, things like efficiency, fairness, and safety are but a few important considerations that can pose challenges. Increasing the odds of an entire group of hunters finding success is difficult, too.

Hunt Club Stand Layout

HuntStand makes it easy to see at a glance each hunt club stand or blind, as well as access trails and other important terrain features each member needs to know.

Simply, it’s important to have a system in place to help manage hunters at hunt clubs and leases. Fortunately, HuntStand Pro makes that job much easier and more effective. Here are 10 ways this powerful, many-featured app can help get you there.

Property Line Management

One of the most-important aspects of hunting any ground is being familiar with property boundaries. Trespassing is no small thing, especially in our modern world. It’s very important for hunters to know where boundary lines are.

Hunt Club member on way to stand

All hunt club members should be on the same page when it comes to stand use and access, and HuntStand Pro has specific, helpful features to make it happen.

HuntStand Pro helps with that. Thanks to accurate property line and boundary markers, it’s easier for hunt club and lease members to stay on their side of the fence. By using the “Property Info” app layer, you can instantly see the lines separating your ground from the neighbor’s.

Mapping Property Attributes

Those who share access might not always do the work. In fact, in this regard, it’s best that all group members share the load. Hunters who do not know where important property features are located can be a problem. Everyone should know the exact locations of things like treestands, ground blinds, trail cameras, food plots, mineral licks, feeders, and more. By marking these on a shared HuntStand Hunt Area map, everyone will know the locations of all-important gear items, and also, other important locales such as known hazards.

Hunt Club trail camera

HuntStand offers icons to mark up your hunt club maps so all members not only know the location of stands and blinds, but also things like trail cameras, hot scrapes, water sources and more that can impact and influence stand selection.

As we all know, access is important, too. If you spook deer while walking in or out, it can have negative effects on an entire area. HuntStand also makes it possible to chart the optimal wind directions, parking areas, and entry and exit routes to existing treestands and blinds. Following these guidelines can help members preserve the quality of the hunt club or lease.

Hunt Club Map with Icons

When all members have access to the same Hunt Area map complete with detailed stand and deer sign icons, the group enters a new level of hunting efficiency.

Detailing Necessary Tasks

Every hunting property has a list of things that need to be done, especially prior to hunting season. However, if things aren’t recorded or scheduled, we tend to forget about them. Making note of necessary tasks helps prevent that, and HuntStand shows the way.

HuntStand Icon Notes

HuntStand offers multiple ways to add detailed notes, including to-do tasks, to hunt areas using icons. Share the Hunt Area and everyone has access.

By using HuntStand’s “Tasks” feature, groups can keep track of what needs to be done, and what’s already been completed. Choose from a variety of classifications, including “Food Plot/Orchard Management,” “General Management,” Habitat/Property Management,” or “Stand/Blind Management.” You can even change the colors of the markers, assign a project a title, and leave very specific notes for each task. These are incredibly helpful features, and take hunt camp coordination to the next level.

Communicating Important Messages

Communication is key in every relationship—even those you have with fellow hunt club and lease members. Sharing necessary information is crucial to maintaining not only your hunting property, but also the trust and respect you have for each other. Being able to address important conversations and messages isn’t something to ignore.

Hunt Club Group Board

Good communication is critical with any hunting club; HuntStand's Group Board feature offers an easy solution.

Fortunately, HuntStand helps with this, too. The “Group Board” is designed for ongoing communication efforts between hunting buddies and lease members. It allows you to post comments, which helps keep communications organized.

Listing Important Sightings

We all love to see and share tales of game encounters in the field. The sight of a mature buck, mouthy gobbler, or other target animal is part of the adventure. However, we often get caught up in the moment. Accurately recalling important aspects and details can be difficult. The excitement, and time itself, can muddy the waters.

HuntStand Game Observations

Over time and with input from the entire group, HuntStand's game sightings feature helps show the most-productive areas of a property, and when they will likely be hot again.

That’s why it’s important to keep track of what you see with HuntStand’s “Sightings” feature. This allows you to drop pins of deer, turkeys, ducks, hogs, predators, and other game, big and small. You can assign each icon a title, which is perfect for those who like to name their target bucks. You can also list sighting notes. These can be significant when remembering the specific conditions (such as wind direction) under which a deer used a certain bedding area, food plot, trail, etc.

Over time, with help from all members, this feature also helps you to visualize what areas of a property are most productive. In an instant, you can see the sightings pins spread throughout your Hunt Group map, showing where club and lease members are encountering the most action.

Sharing Trail Camera Intel

I’ve lost more trail cameras than I care to admit, but that was before HuntStand Pro’s arrival. Being able to keep track of your gear is important, another area where HuntStand shines. When you set a camera, and log its location, recalling its whereabouts is no longer an issue.

Deer on Hunt Club Land

When all hunt club members know who is hunting, and precisely when and where, that type of smooth-running efficiency often leads to increased success.

HuntStand Pro also helps process your trail camera photos. When uploaded from a desktop computer, it stores your trail camera images. With approximately 40 GB of storage, that’s a lot of target deer photos.

HuntStand Pro also offers automatic tagging, heat maps of activity, and aids in activity and movement prediction. This data processing is very beneficial for hunters who are patterning deer and looking for the highest odds of intercepting a specific buck.

Making Stand Reservations

One of the biggest challenges on a hunt club or lease is fairness. How do hunters determine where they get to hunt? HuntStand Pro’s “Stand Reservation” feature is the answer. It allows hunters to choose their spot in advance, and everyone in the group can see it happen. It’s a simple and effective first-come, first-serve system. Simply select a day, start time, and end time.

Stand Reservation List

HuntStand Pro’s “Stand Reservation” feature is the answer to stand use fairness. It allows hunters to choose their spot in advance, and everyone in the group can see it happen.

As stated, group members can quickly check availability before choosing a spot to hunt. All will know which stands have been reserved, and which spots are still open. You can search by location, date, and time.

While fairness is important, safety is paramount. Using the reservation feature lets others know where you’ll be hunting. This is always good information to share, but especially when multiple people are on the property at the same time. When everyone uses this app feature properly, it decreases the risk of rudely interrupting someone else’s hunt. It also minimizes the odds of unfortunate hunting-related accidents.

Locating Your Hunting Buddies

While the ability to reserve stands is beneficial, so is using the real-time “Friend Locator,” which allows you and your hunting buddies to share your location while on the hunting property. This is important for several reasons.

Hunt Club bowhunter

Well-run hunt clubs offer the ability to share exciting solo experiences back at camp, enriching the total experience for all members. HuntStand Pro was built to help.

First, the friend locating feature is another way to refrain from messing up someone else’s hunt, or refrain from shooting in unsafe directions. It’s similar to stand reservations, but provides virtual real-time updates on where a hunter is located. This is great for when hunters are walking to and from a specific stand, and also, when stalking or still-hunting, blood trailing, moving to new locations, and more.

Secondly, when going hunting, it’s always good practice to share your location with loved ones. That way, if an accident does occur, they’ll know where you are. This increases the odds of rescuers locating you, and finding you faster, in the event of a medical emergency. 

Recording Harvest Data

Telling the story of a hunt is part of the attraction, and tradition. We always enjoy sharing the stories of our successes, and hearing those of others. HuntStand’s “Harvests” tab helps keep everything accurate. This app feature allows users to mark exactly where they shot, and/or recovered an animal. It also provides the ability to type detailed notes about the event.

Similarly to the sightings tab, recording harvest data helps you learn more about the club land or lease. Over time, this shows you which spots are most productive, or at least those that get hunted most often. In time you might be able to determine popular escape routes, or preferred security cover. This is valuable long-term information.

Boosting Safety

While often labeled as unsafe, hunting is certainly safe when enjoyed by those who follow some basic rules. When hunters follow best practices, implement safety precautions, use their heads, have respect for themselves, and are considerate of others, something wonderful happens. Then, the likelihood of an accident, negative experience, or bad outcome decreases dramatically.

Hunt Club member stalking slowly

Safety rules. HuntStand Pro's stand reservation and group communication abilities let all club members know when, where and what type of hunting is taking place.

Hunt Club crossbow hunter

One huge advantage of HuntStand Pro is that, over time, logging game sightings and harvests complete with weather conditions, helps all hunt club members see more success in future hunts.

HuntStand Pro helps with this, too, thanks to its many features. Using HuntStand properly, and regularly, can boost overall safety before, during, and after the hunt. HuntStand Pro not only increases the efficiency of a hunt club or lease, but also the safety of its members. Managing multiple hunters on a given hunting property suddenly becomes more streamlined and efficient.

Make It More With Pro

I’ve been a member of numerous hunt clubs. I’ve also shared several different hunting leases for many years. Through it all I’ve found them some of the most-enjoyable aspects of hunting. And especially, when members cherish the entire experience, value quality camaraderie, and work together to elevate one another.

Hunt Club deer success

When arrows fly and shots are fired, there's nothing like being able to show fellow hunt club members exactly where the encounter took place. With HuntStand Pro's group mapping and communication abilities, tracking and dragging help are a few clicks away.

As a HuntStand Pro ambassador, I actively use each of its beneficial features. But I did so long before I joined the team. HuntStand Pro has been in my hunting tool arsenal for a long time, and continues to positively impact my hunts each year. And I’m not alone. Today, approximately 6 million hunters have created 4 million HuntStand Hunt Areas, and dropped some 22 million markers. That’s proof enough that hunters everywhere are benefitting from HuntStand Pro’s many features, and I highly recommend that you use it this season to help manage hunters at your hunt club or lease. Rest assured, we’ll be leaning heavily on HuntStand Pro this fall to help run things smoothly at mine.

Looking to score hunting permission to the perfect private deer hunting property? It’s something most hunters dream of. And it’s no wonder. Having the keys to a great tract of land opens great possibilities. But finding the right permission ground, and securing access to it, are two significant challenges. Now the good news. Both are made much more possible with help from a HuntStand Pro upgrade. Here’s how.

Hunting Permission Screen

Locating High-Quality Ground

One of the best features of HuntStand Pro is unrestricted scouting from above. While you can’t trespass, or access a property where you don’t have permission, you can scout these areas from an aerial perspective. HuntStand offers that ability and does so in high definition, which really helps visualize “new-to-you” terrain. This is a huge component of scoring deer hunting permission on a worthwhile tract.

Some might question the relevance of doing this, especially when you’ve not yet gained access. Simply, this is a very important step when trying to find the best-looking properties to target. Why waste your time knocking on doors to subpar lands when you can concentrate on much-better options? Use app layers such as Contour, Hybrid, Satellite, Mapbox Satellite, and 3D Map to visualize the terrain in detail. Furthermore, the Monthly Satellite layer is excellent for getting virtual real-time updates on crops, controlled burns, timber harvests, and other changes to the landscape.

see all pro features


Using HuntStand Pro map layers, such as 3D Map, Contour, and Terrain, help read variations in elevations.


Monthly Satellite layer is excellent for getting virtual real-time updates on crops, controlled burns, timber harvests, and other changes to the landscape.

Look For Basic Needs

Whitetails have basic needs, including food, water, cover, and security (lack of predation and hunting pressure). While you can’t gauge the latter of these, HuntStand Pro can help you analyze the other three. Use aforementioned layers to decide if basic needs are likely present on the landscape. You won’t get specifics, or get it absolutely right 100 percent of the time, but you can get impressively close more times than not.

Deer In Tall Grass

Likewise, in addition to aerial scouting for basic needs, you can often “grade” the quality of the habitat on the property. I make it a habit of doing this. Whitetails prefer early successional habitat, which is primarily young growth. (Think tall native grasses and young, thick timber.) Basically, areas with higher stem counts are preferred over mature timber that’s open and doesn’t offer as much cover or food. HuntStand helps find these areas, which are likely whitetail hotspots.

Changes in topography greatly influence how deer use a property, too. Using HuntStand Pro map layers, such as 3D Map, Contour, and Terrain, help read variations in elevations. In addition, they show how topography changes “flow” throughout the property.

Permission ADD Buck1

Now is the time to focus on obtaining private land permission, to set yourself up for success come fall.

PermissionBuck 3

Nothing will help you find more promising deer hunting properties, and secure hunting permission, like a HuntStand Pro upgrade.


Gauging Property Size

Never again guess the size of a tract of land, especially those you’re asking about. Use the Property Info layer to determine the precise size of a tract in question. Also, if you’re playing the limited access card (which is asking to hunt part of a property rather than all of it), you can use the Area Measurement tool to help in this effort.

Examine crop rotations with HuntStand

Examining Crop Rotations

Being able to determine what crops are on a given property can and should influence your interest in it. Again, the Monthly Satellite layer updates 12 times per year, whereas most satellite imagery updates every one to three years. That’s a big difference, and now allows users to see what’s happening in crop rotation, among other things.

Study access routes before hunting

Studying Access Routes

A property is only as good as its access, which makes scrutinizing hunt-ability very important. No matter how many deer live on a property, how big they are, or how great the stand locations, it’s all useless if you can’t get into position without alerting deer. While there’s no way to be 100-percent accurate from the app (it takes some boots-on-the-ground scouting to know for sure), you can often gauge the access-route quality from an aerial view. If it’s obvious the access is terrible, you just saved time and effort by crossing a potential property off your list. In contrast, it can help drill down on surefire hotspots, too. This helps you prioritize your asks in the order of importance.

HuntStand Property Info

Obtaining Contact Info

Using the Property Info layer, HuntStand Pro users can gain very useful information, including landowner name, property address, mailing address, land tract acreage, and land tract perimeter distance. In addition, this information can help you find additional info, such as a phone number, if you prefer contact in this manner.

Writing Letters

For those who don’t like talking on the phone, another option is writing a letter. Fortunately, HuntStand Pro provides everything needed to do this. Craft a good message, including your background, intended purpose, references, contact information, and a stamped, self-addressed, envelope. (Do the work for them.) Then, send it to the listed mailing address and wait for a reply.


In rural areas, farmers are popular targets for asking permission. They have the most land and are natural people to ask for hunting permission. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t.

Finding the Right Landowners

One way to boost the odds of success is by locating the right landowners. While HuntStand can’t identify or classify landowners into categories or personality types, you can use the provided information to conduct additional research and draw your own conclusions.

For example, in rural areas, farmers are popular targets for asking permission. They have the most land and are natural people to ask for hunting permission. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t.

Don’t Overlook Smaller Tracts

It’s also important to think of hunting permission in terms of supply and demand. Currently, supply is low, and demand is high. Therefore, getting permission to high-profile properties, such as large rural farms, might prove difficult. In contrast, targeting low-profile properties, such as smaller tracts, or even suburban properties, might see less competition. And ultimately, they might provide higher permission success rates.

Other landowner types include investment holders, trusts, and LLCs. Individuals who own land for investment purposes might or might not allow hunting. Trusts might be the same way. However, accessing LLC-held lands is very difficult. These are generally business-minded owners looking to maximize revenue. Unless you know the owners well, free access might not be in the cards. Still, ask away.

Look Before You Leap

Looking at landowners through a different lens, certain types might offer better results than others. For example, elderly ladies tend to offer access more often than older gentlemen. Focusing on female-owned lands is a tactic some hunters use to improve results.

Classifications aside, some landowners give permission to virtually everyone who asks. So, if the landowner is overly enthused about allowing you on the property, ask if other hunters are present. However, this is something you should inquire about regardless of a landowner’s enthusiasm.

Neighboring Properties Can Be Hot

Neighboring Properties

For those who already have access, but who want to branch out to other properties in the area, it’s beneficial to use HuntStand Pro’s “Property Info” layer to contact neighbors, too. This is especially helpful in scoring deer hunting permission if you don’t already know them. And even if you don’t gain hunting permission, it’s still wise to get permission to retrieve wounded game.

HuntStand Hunting Lands Layer

Private That’s Public

Some private lands don’t require permission from landowners. The permission is already secured by the state agency. Walk-in hunting areas (WIHA) are common examples. These often go by different names, but these are available to the public, no questions asked. For example, Kansas, Minnesota, Washington, and Wyoming are kings of WIHA. Also, consider Indiana’s Private Lands Access (IPLA), Iowa’s Habitat and Access Program (IHAP), Pennsylvania’s Hunter Access Program (PHAP), and Montana’s Block Management Program (BMP). Similarly, there is Michigan’s Hunting Access Program (MHAP), Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program (OFW), and Nebraska’s Passing Along the Heritage Program (PATH). Not to be forgotten are North Dakota’s PLOTS, Oklahoma’s Land Access Program (OLAP), and Virginia’s Public Access (PALS). In addition, don’t forget about larger lands, such as coal, electric, timber, and other energy companies. And while the former opportunities are mostly rural lands, other programs throughout the country boost access to private properties in suburban and urban areas. HuntStand Pro will help you find these places.

Note: Always study detailed rules for hunting public lands, even those that are technically private property. Special restrictions almost always apply, and year-over-year changes are frequent.

Crossbow hunter on private land

General Permission-Gaining Tips

There are additional things that will help increase the odds of scoring deer hunting permission on private properties, some of which HuntStand Pro assists with. Start with learning as much as possible about the landowner in question. Get their name via HuntStand Pro, and then use online sources, such as social media sites, to learn more about them.

Talk to mutual friends and get their input. Knowing more about targeted landowners helps with breaking the ice, finding common ground, scripting your ask, etc. Spending time networking and getting to know the person prior to the big ask can help, too. Work your way up to it, rather than jumping right in.

Another important step in scoring deer hunting permission is wearing the proper clothes. Don’t wear camo. Instead, wear respectable street clothing that isn’t too casual or too dressy. It also helps to mirror your clothing to the person’s you’re talking to.

Start Your Permission Search Now

Start Now For Best Results

It’s also good to inspect your vehicle. Make, model, and year aren’t important. Cleanliness is, though. Showing up with mud caked all over it suggests you won’t be mindful of the landowner’s fields.

Another beneficial tip is starting as early as possible. People begin asking for permission as soon as late winter. Being the first to ask can make the difference in securing permission, or not.

Once you’re having the conversation, provide some background on yourself. Provide references. Discuss mutual friendships. And explain your role as a conservationist. Perhaps even bring along a youth hunter, or in some instances, a well-behaved dog. These things help put people at ease.

Partial Access Led to this Buck

Partial Access Works Too

If the landowner isn’t budging, consider additional tactics, such as asking to hunt a small portion of the land rather than the entire tract. This can be especially helpful if others are already hunting there. A similar method is to ask for archery-only permission, which can tip the odds in your favor, especially for hesitant landowners. Securing hunting property insurance that provides legal protection for everyone involved can, too.

Whether landowners are hesitant, or not, it’s good to offer something in return. Consider offering free labor, helping with predator control, sharing harvested game meat, etc. Express your appreciation with a gift, even if it’s a baked good or gift card.

Bag bucks like this with HuntStand

Keep It Positive

Regardless of what the landowner says, depart in a friendly manner. Offer a small token of thanks, whether they say “yes” or “no.” Then, maintain a relationship with the person moving forward. Over time, that hesitant “no” might turn into a resounding “yes.”

Fortunately, the off-season is the perfect time to focus on scoring deer hunting permission on private property, and nothing can help you more efficiently than a HuntStand Pro upgrade. For just $29.99, you get a high-definition mapping service on your phone. It offers a staggering number of helpful advantages. Make good use of it now and you’ll realize serious benefits come this deer season.

upgrade to pro

Springtime hikes through your favorite hunting tracts rarely disappoint, but you’ve got an especially good feeling about this one. You climb the hill, hit the bench that parallels the underside of the ridge line, and start walking along it. Suddenly, each step reveals even more promising deer sign, and then you see it—big beds and massive rubs everywhere.

No doubt, if the deer that made the sign survived last season, you’ve stumbled into an excellent hunting spot. And it was all thanks to a few clues revealed by HuntStand Pro. Several weeks previous, you tapped into the app, and found the promising area, during an e-scouting session from the comfort of your home. The next steps? You light up your HuntStand Hunt Area map by dropping some descriptive scouting pins, take the time to mark a potentially hot treestand site or two—and leave it alone until fall.

Pro Screen Showing Deer StandsThe off-season is an excellent time to scout for deer, to see how they use the landscape, and find better hunting spots. For those who hope for consistent success each year, it’s critical to scout for and find new stand sites during the off-season. Late winter through spring—the period we’re in right now—are the best times to do so. Here is what you need to know.

What Makes A Great Stand Site?

Before we can find better treestand and ground blind sites, we must first understand the characteristics of good stand locations. And a good stand location hinges on where, when, and how deer use and traverse the area.

Great Deer Stand Found using HuntStand ProThere are five key factors that influence how deer use and move about the landscape. Bedding cover, food sources, and water source locations are the primary things. The secondary factors, which are almost as important, include the presence of rutting activity (or lack thereof), volume of deer activity, and the level of hunting pressure.

Good stand locations are positioned in places with those five things in mind. Furthermore, good stand locations are meant to put you in position to intercept this deer movement while simultaneously keeping deer from seeing, smelling, or hearing you. Here’s where things get a bit tougher. There are numerous things that influence these critical factors, and HuntStand Pro can help with all of them.

HuntStand Pro 3D View w/Skyline

Playing The Wind

The first is prevailing wind. You have two options when hanging permanent, or semi-permanent treestand locations. No. 1, these should be positioned with the most-common wind direction for that area. Or No. 2, hang these in the best spot, regardless of the wind direction it’s suited for, and know you must patiently await the ideal wind to hunt it.

Access is another major consideration. A treestand location is only as good as its entry and exit routes. Here’s where most hunters cut corners. If you spook deer walking in, it’s a bust. The same can be true if you bump deer walking out. You must be able to arrive and depart without deer seeing or hearing you, which can require trimming brush and clearing small lanes along the routes and around the treestand. Do this “extra” work and you’ll have a quiet, boot-to-soil and fabric-rustling-free approach.

Deer Scouting With HuntStand Pro

Quality Concealment

Once you’ve found a good treestand location, the specific tree must offer quality concealment. If you’re sky-lined, deer will easily pick you off. You need plenty of back cover from the tree you’re in, as well as from the surroundings beyond it. To achieve this, a tree needs to be approximately 15-20 inches in diameter. Given the tree is healthy and in good condition, this size range is generally large enough to safely hold you, isn’t generally too big to navigate when hanging treestands, and offers the back cover you need while hunting.

When possible, stands should be hung with the sun at your rear. That said, this is the last and least most important box to check. All the above factors trump this one.

HuntStand Pro Deer Sign MarkersYour own visibility is important as well. You can’t shoot what you can’t see. With more visibility, you can also be a more-effective caller, luring passing bucks with grunts, bleats and rattling. Find a spot that addresses this. On private land you own, or have permission to do so, perhaps consider trimming shooting lanes through areas with thick cover. Most times, it doesn’t take much trimming to make a marginal site great.

Regarding treestand height, trees with less cover, or thicker areas that are difficult to shoot down into, might require hanging the stand higher. That said, do not go higher than 24-25 feet. Safety issues become too big and kill zones on deer become too small. Of course, always use a safety harness and linemen’s belt while hanging treestands. Install a safety line for when you return to hunt. This keeps you secured from the time your feet leave the ground until you safely reach it again.

Using Trail Cam To Find Deer Stand

Seasonal vs “Evergreen” Stand Locations

Those who plan to find a good treestand site must know what they’re looking for. Some treestand locations are seasonal, meaning these will likely peak at a certain point in the season. Others are “evergreen,” indicating they could be great spots all season long. Regardless, it’s good to locate great spots for each of the following categories.

Early season is the first seasonal period to think about. Deer are mostly unpressured, and likely still in late-summer or early fall patterns. Certain areas tend to be more conducive to success during the first days of deer season.

Deer Tracks Near Deer StandWarm-season bedding areas are a great place to start. These include north-facing slopes, closer to field edges, at lower elevations, and near water, where the air temperature is cooler. In severe heat, deer might bed in mature, open timber. Otherwise, they will still likely bed in thicker security cover that falls into one of the warm-season bedding categories mentioned above.

Stand site featuring Oaks dropping acorns Looking to food sources, alfalfa, green soybeans, and sorghum (milo) are excellent early ag crops for deer. The first acorns to drop have significant drawing power, too. As do soft mast trees, such as apples, pears, persimmons, and plums.

Better Pre-Rut Stand Sites

When the pre-rut rolls around, bucks are still on patterns, but testosterone is rising noticeably. Now is the time bucks begin transitioning from summer to fall ranges. At this point, they begin spending more time in typical fall bedding areas. This is generally in thicker cover, deeper in cover, and at slightly higher elevations.

Agricultural fields are still good, but the focus is more on picked corn fields. A few late-planted bean fields might still be viable, but it’ll be a few weeks before beans dry enough to really attract deer. Of course, continue to focus on both hard and soft mast. Perhaps remember secluded watering holes near bedding cover.

HuntStand Pro Screen w/Deer Stands

Prepping ‘Crazy-Time’ Rut Stands

Once the rut arrives, deer go bonkers. The bed-to-feed game plan can still work, but it isn’t the superior play during this time period. It’s time to take advantage of a buck’s testosterone levels. Intercept them while traveling through rut-centric corridors.

The downwind sides of bedding areas are likely the best of these. Hunting “backdoor” stand locations on the edges of bedding areas that you can easily reach without spooking deer are good bets, too. Other hotspots to look for include saddles that bridge the gap between two hubs of deer activity, trails that connect bedding areas, and strategically located watering holes in rut-centric locations. In addition, look for funnels and pinch points between bedding areas, or between bedding areas and food and water sources.

Setting A Pre-Rut Deer StandSeasonal treestand sites aside, some areas are good all season long. Deer commonly bed in and along leeward (downwind side) benches, cedar thickets, cutover timber, deep in big timber, ditches and drainages, marsh edges, native grasses, oxbows, points, ridge lines, standing crops, swamp islands, and more. Find these areas during your off-season scouting, and mark them to  remember for fall.

HuntStand Pro Advantages

Fortunately, several different features of a HuntStand Pro subscription can help reveal where some of these areas might be located. While the “hybrid” and “satellite” app layers are great for reading the habitat, the new “monthly satellite” layer is an excellent method for seeing the freshest data. While most satellite imagery is updated every two to three years, this layer receives monthly updates. That’s huge when searching for the

Rubs near deer standmost-recent information. After all, it just might reveal recent agricultural activity, flooding, fires, timber harvests, and other things you otherwise wouldn’t have known about without seeing it in person. Likewise, the “contour” and “terrain” layers are solid options for gauging the topography, but these are no match for the newer “3D Map” layer, which truly helps you visualize a property like nothing else.

Once a treestand site is deemed in the right location, expresses the necessary characteristics, and the treestand is in place, it’s important to determine if it will be a better morning or afternoon spot. Few stand locations effectively serve as both. It’s very difficult to find the perfect tree in the perfect spot, but it’s even rarer to locate one that works all day long.

Scouting Hunting Grounds, New & Old

One of the greatest challenges in all of deer hunting is hunting ground you don’t know. It’s akin to fishing new waters you haven’t been on, or haven’t been on in quite some time. Of course, effective scouting is the solution for new properties, and the answer for staying ahead of the curve on old ones.

In some ways, how you scout new and old properties is the same. When possible, it’s helpful to walk all the ground. This is more important for tracts you’ve never seen, but it’s also good to do on semi-familiar properties as well. Things can change.

Deer Scouting New GroundThere are important differences in how you tackle properties you know, and those you’ve never seen. While history with an area is very valuable, it can blind us to certain things. It can also cause us to repeat old patterns, and hunt based on history—rather than on what local deer are currently doing. Remember, how deer use a property changes over time. If you’re stuck in a rut, consider bringing a fresh set of eyes look at your land. Their input can help.

HuntStand Pro Covers All The Angles

When traversing new ground, it’s also good to focus on the areas with the most promise first, and then consider those marginal or less-appealing areas. HuntStand Pro is made for this, as it can help you avoid areas of low value, such as those with homogenous terrain, which might lack edge habitat and/or changes in topography. The app also allows you to look at an area from different angles. You can zoom around, change the directional orientation, and even see the property in 3D. While it’s important to study hunting land on a north-to-south axis, when scouting, it can limit your ability to pinpoint likely hotspots. So, look at it with a north-to-south orientation most of the time, but don’t shy away from twisting, turning, and changing perspective. It just might help reveal a “hidden” hotspot.HuntStand Pro 3D Deer SignOnce in the afield, it’s important to search the right areas. We’ve covered habitat- and terrain-based features to seek out, but there are other clues hunters should watch for—deer sign. Old sign is mostly irrelevant in small doses. That said, if you find concentrations of old rubs or heavily worn trails, remember these. They can be indicative of historical travel routes that remain in use from year to year. Mark them.Deer Hunting SuccessWhile old sign is good, new sign is better. This provides the most recent and relevant information. Search for rubs, scrapes, tracks, trails, and most importantly, specific beds. If you can find exactly where deer are lying down during daylight hours, it provides a huge advantage when hanging treestands, charting access routes, and determining what wind directions to hunt on.

When scouring lands new and old, it’s important to look for major trails, as well as minor trails that parallel larger ones. Oftentimes, bucks use the smaller trails that are further within cover, while does and younger bucks use the larger, more exposed ones. Trail intersections, trails that parallel fields just within cover, inside field corners, secluded food sources, staging areas, and other locations where heavy deer sign is present should be considered, too.

Results of Great Stand Site

Pulling Your Plan Together

Those who plan to scout as effectively as possible this off-season need two approaches—e-scouting and boots on the ground. The beauty of HuntStand Pro, is that it will help you with both. In the end, it’s all about finding the “X.” When you find those treasured spots, mark them. Log notes so you’ll remember them. Then hunt them this fall when HuntStand Pro says the time is right—and don’t be surprised if it’s a season you will never forget.

The big gobbler stood loud and proud across the valley. It gobbled with pride, strutted with gallantry, and expressed more stubbornness than a green-broke mustang. But no matter what calls and vocalizations I threw at it, that turkey wouldn’t budge. When turkeys find terrain features they love, it can be hard to get them to leave.

Turkey Cresting A RidgeEventually, I packed up, swung wide, and set up just above the bird on a hillside bench. And that’s all it took. That turkey bowed up, went red in the face, and walked all stiff-legged into 20 yards. It finally spotted me as I eased up to take the shot. But it was much too late. At the shot the regal tom spread its wings to flap back down the hill—but landed in a skillet of butter and grease instead.

Some geographical locations and terrain features are absolute magnets for wild turkeys. There are many of these, and birds love them. Here’s what you should know.

HuntStand Features To Lean On

Checking Turkey TerrainThe multi-featured HuntStand Pro is an incredible tool for scouting for turkeys, and the grounds they call home. A few of the must-use features include marking your scouting finds (Map Editor), to using offline map versions (Offline Maps), and recording turkey sightings (Sightings). In addition, make it a habit of listing “to-dos” (Tasks), and keeping track of hunting buddies (Friend Locator/Sharing). But some of the most-important features are found in specific layers, which help you locate the turkey hunting hotspots you’re looking for.

Turkey Access 3D HuntStand

3D mapping: This helpful layer (see screen shot above) takes topography viewing to the next level. It allows you to see in 3D on a 2D screen. This technology is ideal for all turkey hunters, and really helps you visualize the landscape in a more-effective manner. As a bonus, you can view this 3D model from many different perspectives, including from ground level to overhead.

Hybrid: Speaking of hybrid layers, those who are scouting or hunting in areas with a lot of broken (separated) pieces of public land should consider the hybrid layer. This handy feature shows detailed aerial imagery paired with Google Maps’ roadways. This can help you navigate to properties of interest.

HuntStand Contour Screen ShotContour map: The Contour layer (see example above) is designed to show you an aerial view with added contour lines. It’s an aerial-topo hybrid layer option with incredible detail to quickly pinpoint things like benches and pinch points that will funnel turkey movement.

Outdoor: As mentioned, turkeys love water. This layer shows it in great detail, and helps pinpoint areas that might be attractive to local turkeys.

Property Info: Anyone who’s scouting, or hunting, should keep an eye on property boundaries. This is the HuntStand layer for that. It offers information on where the lines are, who owns the land, contact information, and more.

Two Gobblers Along WoodlineTree Cover: Those who are looking at land from a large-scale view need to tap into the Tree Cover layer. The TerrapPulse tree cover layer uses NASA satellite imagery, which helps differentiate between trees and other types of vegetation.

Terrain map: Those who want a view of only the topography, but no vegetation representation, will like the Terrain layer. This takes topo lines to the next level, and displays a great overhead view of the terrain.

Out-Of-State Turkey Hunting On A Budget

Weather: Lastly, those who hunt turkeys understand just how pivotal the weather can be. Good weather can get turkeys fired up. Bad weather can shut them down. The latter can also be dangerous to hunt in. This feature helps keep track of all of that.

Terrain & Topography: Pivotal Factors

Experienced turkey hunters understand the importance of terrain and topography. These things can impact all aspects of life for wild turkeys, including:

Turkey Roost SiteRoost Locations: Topography most notably impacts where turkeys roost. Birds need strategic protection from predators, and certain terrain features offer that. “Terrain plays a big factor in roosting,” said Travis Sumner, Habitat Specialist at the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). “Terrain also plays a big role in how they travel back and forth from roosting to feeding areas. It even correlates with how they avoid predators.”

Landing Zones: Wild turkeys aren’t the most graceful of animals. Where roosting is concerned, birds need open areas to fly up from and back down to. “They like the high ground where they can see, particularly on ridgetops,” Sumner said. “This way they can see down into bottoms where they can fly down. But sometimes, when we think they’re going to fly to the bottoms, they’ll land straight under the tree on the bench.”

Turkey Water SourcesFood And Water Sources: Food is certainly impacted by terrain. It can dictate the variety of food that’s present, the abundance of vittles, and more. Another impacted factor is water, which turkeys use for drinking purposes, protection, and more.

Travel Routes: Remember that turkeys spend most of their time walking—not flying. Because of this, the terrain greatly impacts where they go, and how they get there. “As hunters, it plays a factor on how we set up on them,” Sumner said. “Maneuverability is big, especially when knowing how to go around and get set up on a turkey. They might try to go above and around terrain. In hill country, you’d think they’d come up the hill to you. Generally, I’ve seen them go around and get above me on top of the hill.”Turkey Hen Nesting CoverNesting Cover: Hens need good cover to nest in, and to spend the first couple weeks of life with her poults. “It needs to be open, but not literally wide open,” Sumner said. “They want to feel secure. Stick to natural grasses. A lot of briars and viny stuff—they aren’t going to travel through that as much. If they’re in there, it’s hard for them to get out of that. Whereas with natural grasses, forbs, and other plants that’s fairly open, they can get out of there. I prefer [a mix of] 30 percent grasses and forbs.”

Specific Terrain Features Turkeys Love

Gobbler Running TreelineThere are certain types of terrain and topographical features that turkeys frequently use and benefit from.

“Before hunting them, learn the land,” Sumner said. “There is so much there with HuntStand. It’ll show you the topography. Before you ever even hunt, you are learning the terrain. Learn where those ridges are, which are likely to be roost sites. Learn the land so that when you’re in there maneuvering on a gobbler, you already know where he wants to head.”

You’ll commonly find birds using:

Benches: These are commonly used as roost sites, fly-up zones, landing zones, strut zones, travel routes, and more.

Turkey Hunter In Creek BottomBottoms: Turkeys frequently fly up to and down from the roost in bottoms. These are common feeding destinations and strut zones, too, depending on the vegetation present.

Draws: Turkeys commonly use draws as gateways between timbered areas and open fields. These make great pinch-point setups.

Turkeys love inside field edges

Edges: Much like deer, turkeys tend to remain close to edge habitat. Hens especially like these areas, and routinely nest within 30 yards of field edges. Turkeys especially love the inside field edges like the one above.

Turkeys Love Flat Open AreasFlats: Turkeys love flat areas adjacent to hilly terrain. These are prime locations for feeding, strutting, loafing, and more.

Hilly Turkey TerrainHills: Turkeys gravitate to hills. If the habitat is good and pressure is minimal, they spend a great portion of their time along these.

Hollows: Birds also spend part of their time down in hollows. This is especially true during higher winds, and when food sources are abundant.

Ridges: Turkeys often roost and travel along ridge lines. These offer much of what they need from security and food source standpoints.

Turkey Hunter Takes Aim At GobblerPinch Points: Turkeys do a lot of walking. And much like deer, they like to travel through convenient pinch points when getting from point A to B.

25 Steps To More Turkey Hunting Permission

Points: With maybe the best example being the ends of ridge lines, points are popular roost sites, and strutting zones, for longbeards. Depending on the tree species present, these can provide ample food, too.

Turkey Hunting Along SwampSwamps: Turkeys are known to roost and feed in swampy areas. Bugs are abundant, and they can easily hear predators traveling through the water.

Waterways: Flocks commonly spend the night in trees close to or over waterways, such as creeks, streams, and rivers.

“Here in the South, we see that they roost mainly along drainage areas and over water,” Sumner said. “They’ll pick the high side of these streams, ponds, and get in those higher trees. I saw that the other morning. It was a little rise in a creek bottom. They could see into the [nearby] pasture, and that’s where they flew out into.”

Specific Terrain Features Turkey Hunters Hate

Just as turkeys love certain terrain features, there are some they don’t. Or, at least, some that tend to make these birds harder to hunt. So, maybe it’s just turkey hunters who hate these things:

Barriers: Anything that separates you from the bird you see, hear, or are calling to can be a problem. Long stretches of fencerows, ravines, rivers, and other impassible-by-walking land features generally require flight for turkeys to cross over. They will do this, but birds commonly hang up once they hit such land features.

Successful Turkey Hunt Using Terrain FeaturesThick Cover: Other than nesting hens, turkeys don’t like thick cover. And even then, it must be the right cover. Properties that are extremely thick might be good for deer but aren’t attractive to turkeys. “Whether it’s on the flat, or in the mountains, you want the terrain to not be too thick,” Sumner said. “A turkey can’t travel through it and feel safe from a predator. They can’t see through it. A bobcat could be laying there waiting.”

Young Timber: Both young hardwoods, and stands of young pine trees, are virtually useless to turkeys. They can’t roost in these or feed under them. And dense stem counts make it difficult to spot predators. Thus, turkeys tend to avoid such areas. “There’s an old saying that it’s so thick in there you couldn’t throw a housecat through it,” Sumner said. “Turkeys like open areas, but need a little bit of vegetation to feel secure. They want to be able to see a long distance.”

Hunting out of state can be expensive. And especially if you fail to plan ahead, lease prime private land, and follow other practices that can cost serious money. Fortunately for turkey hunters, there are ways to cut costs and spend less on turkey-hunting road trips. Sound interesting? Consider this your guide to out-of-state turkey hunting on a budget.

Out-of-state turkeys aren't out of reach.

Out-of-state turkeys aren't out of reach.

Plan effectively and have the non-resident turkey hunt of your dreams

Plan effectively and have the non-resident turkey hunt of your dreams.

General Cost-Cutting Methods

Hunting out of state on a budget isn’t an exact science, but much of it involves significant planning. There are numerous things turkey hunters can do to reduce the bottom line. Some things include: purchasing affordable gear, hunting adjoining states, hunting in a group (less gas money), and driving something with good gas mileage. In addition, you can buy gas where it’s cheapest, sleep in a tent or camper, and bring groceries instead of eating out. And don’t forget the options of knocking on doors for private-land hunting permission and of course, hunting public lands.

HuntStand Was Built For This

HuntStand Turkey Markers

There are many ways that a HuntStand Pro subscription can aid in your out-of-state turkey hunt. First off, you’ll be hunting unfamiliar territory. Use the app to stay within the property lines.

The app is also great for finding specific public lands to hunt, property info, and more. And don’t forget to save offline map versions of the areas you’ll hunt. This allows you to use your HuntStand app even if the area doesn’t have cell service.

25 Steps To More Turkey-Hunting Permission

HuntStand also offers monthly updates to the aerial imagery. In contrast, most traditional satellite views are updated much less often. This new HuntStand app layer is much closer to real-time imagery. This can reveal crops, food plot locations, controlled burns, and more.

Many other app layers are beneficial, too. Aerial-based layers show the terrain and foliage, including hardwoods, conifers, crops, pasture fields, etc. Topography-based layers can pinpoint high ground, ridge lines, benches, saddles, pinch points, and other areas turkey hunters can find success. You can even find isolated water sources.

HuntStand Turkey WeatherMore features for turkey hunters to use include weather forecast info and maps. Mother Nature can be unpredictable in spring. These can help focus travel efforts during good-weather windows, and monitor it during the hunt.

And don’t forget HuntStand’s Friend Locator/Sharing features, which allow you to share your location and detailed mapping info while traveling and hunting with friends and family. This is an excellent safety feature and can help you hunt through a property more efficiently if the group splits up. Sharing things like hot sign/sightings/roost locations can quickly turn a tough hunt into a successful one.

States With Affordable Turkey Licenses/Tags

Two Gobblers On A BudgetWith the current state of gas prices, overall trip costs might be less expensive by hunting states closer to home, regardless of the license cost. That said, if you live near one of the following states, they seem to have the best prices. Some of these include Alabama ($143.65 plus), Arkansas ($55 plus), Florida ($171.50 plus), Kentucky ($135 plus), Maine ($70 plus), Massachusetts ($108 plus), New Hampshire ($144 plus), Oklahoma ($150 plus), and Vermont ($140 plus).

How to Use the HuntStand App for Turkey Hunting

Drilling down on some of these destinations, in the Northeast, New Hampshire has a good turkey population. Its hunter-to-turkey population ratio isn’t what some states offer, but it isn’t at the bottom of the list, either. In Vermont, which has about 50,000 turkeys, and only 18,000 licenses sold, the odds are great here. This means less hunting pressure.

Two Tom Turkeys From Budget HuntIn the Southeast, Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky are solid budget-based options. The Bluegrass State has a flock that’s about 425,000 strong, and only about 100,000 turkey hunters. Pressure is mild, but public lands aren’t as abundant here as some other states. In Alabama, the turkey hunting heritage is unmatched, which means more pressure. But again, the price of admission isn’t terrible. And if you want an Osceola, your only option is Florida. The great news is public land is in great supply here.

Looking westward, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are arguably the best states, but these destinations have pricier tags. Oklahoma is the budget-minded option. There are a lot of turkeys, and turkey hunter numbers are lower here.

Public-Land Programs To Remember

Public-Land Turkey FlockThere are many different types of public lands throughout the nation. Fortunately, many of these offer access to hunters who chase turkeys. Some of the following programs include millions of acres that harbor great turkey populations.

National Level Organizations: There are several programs to remember that extend beyond state lines. Some of these include:

Out of state turkey hunterLesser-Known Opportunities: While the above are well-known programs, the following include public lands that aren’t as popular.

  • Third-party land trusts open to public hunting. Alabama’s the Forever Wild Trust is one example.
  • South Dakota’s grasslands that are open to hunting.
  • County lands and county forests are oftentimes owned by local governments. Many of these areas are open to public hunting.
  • Limited draw hunts.
  • Reclaimed coal lands (that offer public hunting).
  • Electric and power companies (that offer public hunting).
  • Timber and paper companies (that offer public hunting).
    HuntStand Hunting Lands For Turkeys

Private Lands Open to Public Hunting: The following programs are state-based concepts that pay private landowners to enroll their properties into public hunting. You can find these in the HuntStand Hunting Lands layer. These programs go by different names, but all follow a like-minded, walk-in hunting concept. Some of the most popular programs include:

Turkey-Rich Public Lands To Consider

Calling Public Land TurkeysThere are certain areas throughout the nation that offer excellent hunting opportunities to hunters. Remember to read up on the general turkey hunting regulations, non-resident regulations, and the rules that apply to specific public lands.

If you plan to road trip to one of these states, some of the following are potential places to scout. Again, you’ll find all in great detail in the HuntStand Hunting Lands layer:

  1. Arkansas: Muddy Creek WMA
  2. Georgia: Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area
  3. Illinois: Mississippi River Pool areas
  4. Indiana: Clark State Forest
  5. Iowa: Yellow River State Forest
  6. Kansas: Marais Des Cygnes Wildlife Area
  7. Mississippi: Chickasawhay WMA
  8. Ohio: The Shawnee State Forest

Finding Public-Land Hot Spots

Wisconsin Public Turkey AreaMost hunters have already done their research and have a piece of public land (or lands) in mind. That said, there is an art to finding the best areas for turkey hunting. Remember, these out-of-state trips are usually short. Time must be spent wisely. We don’t want to rush the trip and miss the adventure, but the less time your trip lasts, the less money you spend. Therefore, it’s essential to be efficient. Consider doing the following:

E-Scouting: Check forums. Call biologists. Consult with public land managers. Look over harvest reports. Use all available information. Study the available maps that wildlife agencies and DNRS publish. Compare these to your HuntStand app layers of preference. Of course, most of the DNR-provided maps are basic. These are good places to start, but you’ll get much more information from various HuntStand app layers.

App Scouting: It’s time to drill down on specific public-land properties. Use your HuntStand Pro subscription to learn more about each property of interest. Find the areas that look the best.

Finding & Hunting Terrain Features Turkeys Love

Turkey Calling On Public LandIn-the-Field Scouting: You narrowed down the search to likely hotspots via e- and app-scouting. Now, it’s time to confirm (or not confirm) what your learned from e- and app-scouting. Check out the areas that looked best. Listed for birds at dawn. Look for sign. Check for other clues that turkeys are in the area.

If you’ve located plenty of turkeys, it’s time to hunt. If not, keep scouting. Of course, there’s a balance, but it’s better to spend more time scouting and less time hunting. At some point, you must start hunting or you’ll run out of time. That said, for a week-long trip, scout at most for three days. Spend the remaining four in the best spot you find.

Hunting Tactics For Public-Land Longbeards

Setting Turkey Decoys On Public LandPublic-land turkeys are difficult to hunt. These birds are pressured. It pays to have a playbook of ideas to use on these pressured birds. Again, the less time you spend on the trip, the cheaper it will be. Go into it with the right mindset and potentially, you’ll fill that tag quicker.

Get There Early: Most public lands get hit hard. If you want first dibs on a property, get there several hours before daylight. Most hunters will keep driving if they see you parked there.

Get There Last: Most turkey hunters leave after a few hours. Get there after everyone has left and you’ll likely have the place to yourself. Birds will be less henned-up by mid-morning anyway.

Roost A Turkey: Spend the late afternoon period putting a bird to bed. Then, be there very early the next morning. If you can get there without spooking the turkey off the limb, camp out where the bird flew up from. That’s likely where it will land after sunrise.

Public Land Tom AlertDon’t Keep It Gobbling: Gobbling turkeys draw attention. Don’t keep that roosted bird gobbling. It draws attention from other hunters. Call as little as possible. Let the bird know you’re there, and then hush.

Use Multiple Calls: After fly down, switch up the calls. This makes it sound like multiple hens are in the area.

Use Good Decoys: Public land turkeys see a lot of decoys. Use decoys that look like the real deal. That said, be safe. It might trick turkey hunters too, which can lead to safety issues.

Find Overlooked Properties: Get further away from roads to escape heavy hunting pressure. Most hunters won’t get more than ½ mile from the nearest access.

Have Multiple Plans: Prepare and believe in the plan. That said, don’t rely on plan A. Have backup plans in place. You’ll likely need these.

Focus On Budget-Based Gear

Out of state turkey successWhile longtime turkey hunters likely already have most of what they need, new turkey hunters will need to buy the basics. The necessities include a hunting license (plus appropriate tags, permits, stamps, etc.), shotgun, ammo, camouflage, boots, turkey calls, and binoculars. As you might guess, there are plenty of options out there to save big while gearing up. Looking for clearance sales and previous-year models are just two proven ways to save some coin.

In addition, every turkey hunter needs the right state-mandated documentation. Specific needs vary by state. Every wildlife agency and DNR operates differently. Generally, this includes a hunting license, tags, stamps, hunter education, or a variation of these. Read the turkey hunting guide to determine what you need.

Out of state turkey successAll in all, it’s a simple matter of focus and desire to hunt turkeys in other states on a budget. From tapping into HuntStand Pro to assembling the right gear, to being as efficient of a hunter as possible, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Use the tips above to focus your approach, and you’ll be well on your way to bagging out-of-state turkeys while spending minimal cash.


Each year, numerous meetings, symposiums, and other research-focused events bring whitetail experts together to discuss the most-recent deer study findings in the deer hunting world.

Southeast Deer Study Group Logo

One of these is the annual Southeast Deer Study Group Meeting, and this year it produced some truly interesting nuggets of whitetail wisdom. These are some of the highlights of the new deer study findings, information that all serious whitetail hunters should know.

CWD Is On The March

CWD On The MarchChronic wasting disease (CWD) isn’t a highly visible threat like epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). That doesn’t mean CWD isn’t deadly, though. It continues to spread throughout the country and is popping up in new counties and states.

Chronic wasting disease is the biggest threat to deer and deer hunting in North America,” said Krysten Schuler, PhD wildlife disease ecologist and co-director of the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. “While our generation may only see the spread, our children and our grandchildren will see the repercussions. Today’s deer hunters are resistant to changing cultural traditions, but if we don’t take action, then we will lose the overall war. Just because you aren’t seeing dead deer in the woods, doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue.”

EHD Is A Cagey Thing

Buck At Risk of EHD?One of the most-aggravating whitetail diseases is EHD. It tends to appear out of nowhere, and its range of potential impacts are quite large. It can claim as few as one or two deer, or wipe out large swaths of populations. Its impacts are hard to predict.

Interestingly, EHD seems to adapt and change. New strains of the disease are appearing in places they weren’t previously discovered. The source of this realization is speculative. However, it certainly means that deer have little to no immunities to strains that herds haven’t previously been exposed to.


Just because a turkey is on another property and off limits, doesn't mean you can't get permission.

Just because a turkey is on another property and off limits, doesn't mean you can't get permission.


Take posted properties as a challenge, and ask the landowner for permission to hunt. Oftentimes, these same signs will deter other hunters from doing so.

Are you on the hunt for more turkey hunting permission? One of the biggest hinderances to turkey hunting success is access. Being able to find a place to go is a huge hurdle that’s hard for many hunters to overcome, especially in areas where public land is limited. Fortunately, there are things you can do about it.

Good turkey hunters are also constantly looking for new hunting ground. They aren’t making more land, and it’s already hard to come by. Plus, you never know when you might lose access to an existing hunting property. Several factors can pull the rug out from under you. They include increasing hunter numbers (in some areas), urban sprawl, habitat destruction, land sales, leasing opportunities, and myriad other things.

Over all else, make sure to make it a symbiotic relationship between you and the landowner.

Fortunately, while it’s very hard to gain permission for deer hunting, it doesn’t seem to be quite as hard for turkey hunters. This is because fewer hunters pursue turkeys, and landowners can’t make as much off turkey leases. Still, you might need to heed the following advice to secure that access you so desperately want.

1. Begin By Identifying Potential Turkey Hunting Hotspots

Turkey Access 3D HuntStand

Just as with deer hunters, the best turkey hunters do things differently. For starters, they hunt where turkeys live. They know what to look for from e-scouting and in-person perspectives. It begins by studying the many helpful map layers in HuntStand Pro. There are some turkey-friendly terrain features to remember. They include: rivers, creeks, bluffs, bottoms, open fields, wheat fields and cattle operations. In addition, look for mature timber (for roosting), edge habitat (for nesting cover), and more. With the 3D Map feature (shown above) you can even “walk” through a property and note the elevation changes and specific terrain features. And you can do it from the comfort of your home. It’s incredible.

Great turkey hunters see and recognize great opportunities when they see these features. They can pinpoint a good property via an app or map with a high degree of success. In time, whatever your experience, you will be able to do this as well. HuntStand can help shorten the learning curve substantially. Then, once you’ve selected some target properties, it’s time to study landowner data.

2. The Correct Contact Info & More

HuntStand Property Info Turkeys

No need to guess who owns the land. Fortunately for HuntStand Pro users, in mere seconds, they can look at the Property Info feature and get the correct landowner contact info, including name(s) and mailing address. In addition, you’ll learn total acreage and perimeter. This makes knowing what door to knock on much easier.

HuntStand also helps show potential access to private properties that are adjacent to public properties. Gaining access to such properties increases the land you can hunt, and can even make properties more huntable due to the ability to approach from a different direction.

Turkey Hunting After Permission

In addition, HuntStand also helps identify good entry and exit routes. While these might seem like deer hunting terms, they apply to turkeys, too. You can’t hunt turkeys that you spook while walking into an area.

Furthermore, certain HuntStand layers, such as the 3D, topo, and hybrid options, can help hunters determine which areas of a property might be best. This is important if you’re tasked with sharing permission, which might entail dividing up property access with other hunters.

3. Spend Time Networking

Networking is important. Spend time talking to locals. Hang out where farmers and landowners frequent. Such places include cafés, diners, feed stores, and other popular hangouts. You’ll get to know the right people and will even develop relationships. That said, this can take months and years—not days.

4. Know Who You’re Asking

Turkey Permission Handshake

Once you identify people you’d like to ask for permission, it’s important to know who they are prior to asking them. It’s much more presentable and respectable if you call them by name upon arrival. Start the conversation off and ease into the ask. Don’t charge right into it. Also, if you don’t already know them, it’s important you get the inside scoop about their history and personality. This will help you direct the conversation.

5. Start Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start asking permission. You’ll likely be behind others if you do. Once landowners offer access to one or two people, they’re less likely to continue giving it. This is especially true for smaller properties.

How to Use the HuntStand App for Turkey Hunting

6. Draft A Script

While it’s important to not be robotic, it is good to have an outline of what you’d like to say. This is even truer for those who get nervous when talking to others. Memorizing a rough script to go by can keep you on track, or even get you back on track if you lose control of the conversation.

7. Adapt Throughout The Conversation

Turkey landowner/farmer

While it’s good to have a script, you must be able to adapt throughout the conversation. Sometimes, these take unexpected turns (for better or worse). You need to be ready to call an audible and respond appropriately no matter the direction it goes.

8. Make The Right Impression

It’s extremely important to make the right impression. Being polite and respectful is incredibly vital. Failing to do so will likely lead to a failed ask and no hunting permission. For those who understand good communication, it’s also important to “mirror” your tone, words, and body language to the individual you’re talking to. Unless they are very up tight and negative, mirroring should help them be more comfortable around you.

9. Wear The Right Clothing

Those who are looking to gain permission should dress the part. I advise against wearing full camo. That can seem presumptuous, or suggestive that you’ve already gained permission. Instead, if possible, match your clothing to a similar style as the landowner’s. This too will help comfort them. Generally, this means casual clothing, so don’t dress up or down.

10. Mind Your Vehicle

Turkey Permission Reward

While you shouldn’t worry about the make, model, and year of your vehicle, it’s certainly important to clean it up. Driving up to their house with mud and muck caked everywhere is a bad impression. It will make the landowner think you drive through ag fields and won’t be mindful of their property.

Out-of-State Turkey Hunting on a Budget

11. Bring A Youth Hunter With You

It’s a proven fact that hunters who plan to help youth hunters have higher odds of gaining permission than adults who are only there for themselves. So, if you guide others, bring a young hunter you plan to help. Or, if you’re helping a new adult hunter learn the ropes, bring them along and explain the situation. If you aren’t planning to guide anyone else, a well-behaved puppy or dog can help break the ice and put a landowner at ease, too.

12. Explain Your Role As A Hunter-Conservationist

Landowners who aren’t familiar with the true nature of good hunters may not realize how much we do for conservation and protecting wildlife. Explain to them your part in this role, and that their property could help benefit all wildlife.

13. Make The Ask More Personal

Goal of Turkey Permission

Closing the gap between each of you is critical. Most people are reserved. This is the time to break through barriers. Find a common ground to make the conversation more personal between you and the individual. This calms their nerves before popping the question.

14. Add Some Charm

As previously stated, know who you’re asking. Consider bringing them a gift. Flowers or chocolates work well for women. Food, such as baked goods, or jerky, work for men and women alike. Gift cards are great, too. If you know the landowner well, you can even bring something that’s even more personalized to them.

15. Offer To Cull Predator Populations

Some landowners have problems with coyotes, and they don’t like them. If this is the case, you might be able to offer predator removal for access to other species. Sometimes this is what’s needed to secure permission.

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16. State The Obvious

Tom with hen

One of the best reasons landowners should permit hunting access is because good hunters keep an eye on the land. They also clean up trash as they find it, keep an eye out on livestock, and do other things to help the landowner. Talk about this when asking for permission.

17. Offer Legal Protection

One of the numerous reasons landowners don’t grant hunting permission is a fear of accidents, injuries, and legal proceedings that follow. Today, hunters have an answer for that. Now, you can get affordable hunting land insurance that covers both you and the landowner at an affordable rate. This is open to hunters who own land, lease it, or hunt by permission.

“[This hunting land insurance] is for any hunting land,” said Lindsay Thomas, National Deer Association chief communications officer. “It doesn’t have to be a lease—it can be land you own or have permission to hunt. You can get a policy that covers you and the landowner. You’re just talking a few hundred dollars for a big piece of land.”

“Right now, it’s $52 in addition to your basic charge to cover the landowner,” said Linda Walls, NDA senior customer service representative. According to Walls, your policy can even have $1 million per occurrence of general liability coverage, a $2 million general aggregate (which is the one-year life of the policy), $100,000 fire legal liability coverage, member-to-member coverage, and guest liability coverage. Also according to Walls, the policy has no hidden exclusions for claims involving firearms, treestands, ATVs, limited watercraft, and other hunting-related things. In addition, there is no deductible on general liability. And the application is simple.

“If you’re knocking on someone’s door, and saying you’d love to have permission to hunt their land, they might say they’re worried about liability,” Thomas said. “You can say, well, I’m getting liability coverage that will cover myself and you as well. Show them the details and that it was designed for hunting. It’s a great selling point to a hesitant landowner.”

On top of the insurance offer, you can also sign a contract that includes a waiver ensuring you won’t hold the landowner liable if something happens to you while hunting the property.

18. Give A Good Reference

Hand On Bagged Tom

Think of this as applying for a job. When going for an interview, the employer always asks for references. “Applying” for a piece of hunting ground shouldn’t be any different. Make this reference someone they know (and like), or a previous landowner you hunted on.

19. Provide Your Information

Landowners need to be able to trust you, which includes knowing as much about you as possible. They also need to know how to reach you. The best way to do this is to give them your contact info. Provide this in a professional manner, such as a business card, for the best impression.

20. Depart on a Good Note

Sometimes you’ll receive hunting permission. Other times you won’t. It’s important to depart on a good note either way. Be gracious no matter the outcome. If you brought a gift, hand it to them anyway. Being able to hear “no,” while behaving gallantly, might lead to a “yes” in the future.

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21. Write Some Letters

HuntStand app in hand

While asking for hunting permission in person tends to be better and more effective, it’s important to write letters, too. These can be used to ask for permission and can even save time and gas money. You can even reach out to more landowners by using this method. That said, keep in mind the above factors for letters, too.

Letters should also be used to thank landowners once access is secured. A kind, hand-written thank you note leaves a great impression, and will likely boost their view of you.

22. Give Back To The Landowner

Don’t be afraid to offer your services. Now is the time to get your hands dirty and work on projects they need help with. It’s the least you can do if you don’t want to write a lease check. Take time during the summer to help on the farm or around the property.

 23. Share The Bounty

More and more people are being won over by the taste of wild game. The healthy, cholesterol-free meat is phenomenal. Offer the landowner half the meat harvested on their land. You both get something out of the deal.

24. Maintain Good Relationships 

Successful Turkey Permission

Those who hope to maintain the hunting permission they’ve secured will need to work to do so. Don’t just ask the landowner and then avoid them. Keep the line of communication open. Call them before going to their property. Talk to them about other things other than hunting. Be personable.

25. Maintain Good Relationships With Neighbors

It’s just as important to maintain good relationships with neighboring landowners and hunters. A dispute with neighbors can get you kicked off the property you have access to. So, refrain from trespassing, disrespecting neighbors and hugging property lines. In addition, avoid taking too many turkeys (even when tags permit it), and disregarding others who have permission to hunt the same property.

All things considered, it’s critical to be on top of your game when asking for turkey hunting permission. In the end, make sure you’re making it a symbiotic relationship between you and the landowner. While they’re granting you access, explain to them the ways you’ll make it worth their time, and the ways in which you can benefit them by being on the land. Smart turkey hunters call that a win-win.