This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it is all part of the process of a hunter understanding his target. A seasoned hunter may be equally adept with several weapons and hunting techniques. He will wait until he has properly pre-scouted an area to decide what tools and approaches will be most effective. He may even wait to decide what game to hunt until he has an overview of the habitat. If a mule deer hunter pre-scouts a habitat and comes across a sign of moose, he may decide to start planning for the bigger game. Pre-scouting allows hunters to learn the terrain, find heavily used game trails, and notice fluctuations of the populations of other game animals.
He may also make note of logistical changes that could affect his game. These include housing construction, new roads, or other encroachments from civilization. He can look for other hunters on the pre-scout to determine what the popular game will become season. Local farmers and ranchers can also be a good resource to find out what game is common in the area. Animal signs are as important to recognize in scouting as when tracking game on the hunt. Feathers may be found around the areas waterfowl stop to preen. A hunter may find nut shells near trees where squirrels have nested.
Damage to brush and trees may indicate to the observant hunter that antlers have been rubbed to remove their velvet. Of course, droppings and tracks are still the easiest and the best way to find game. Hopefully, the pre-scouting trip will also garner actual game sightings. Despite not being out to kill, the hunter will remain as stealthy as possible. If he is able to glass some big game without disturbing them, he might find them in the same area once the hunting season begins. Pre-scouting is also great practice for the hunt, without the pressure. This is a good time refine tracking skills or attempt new techniques. This is when a hunter tries out new clothes and gear. It’s also a great time to bring along a new hunter and show him the ropes. This is also a great time for the new hunter to introduce himself or herself to other hunters. Just try not to scare off the game.