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Preseason Scouting: Bow Hunting Urban Land

Turkey track (about 3" across)

Turkey track (about 3" across)

As a follow-up to my previous post on bowhunting in urban zones, I’ve scouted one such area that’s only a few miles from my house. This is a tract of land that’s bordered by a golf course, a subdivision, private wooded property, and a major road. The major road was rerouted last year to improve traffic flow, which mandated a lot of construction work and clearing of some of the wooded terrain. This created a perfect storm of sorts because the game was much easier to see from the road, and there’s plenty of open ground for scouting.

The new route revealed a sizable flock of mature turkeys (at least 5 birds) that graze casually near the road in the late afternoon and evening. Also, the strip of land is wide enough that a hunter could set up in the woods well beyond the required distance from the road and subdivision. Those distances are 75-100 yards and specified in local ordinances.

There’s currently a wide shoulder, marked off by orange construction barrels, where I was able to park my car for a brief scouting expedition. The photo at left is taken from the woods, facing out toward the major road. You can just make out my SUV at the top of the ramp to the left of the distant telephone pole.

Almost immediately, I spotted clear turkey tracks, including the one at the top of this article. No surprise there, since I knew there’s a flock living in the area, but I don’t often see this kind of turkey sign, so I was excited. The tracks were pointed in the direction of the clear-cut from which I took the photo, ending at a creek that essentially marks the boundary.

The edge of the clear cut has a fallen tree on a little rise (on the left side of the photo, to the left of where those saplings cross one another) with thick brush; this looks like a promising natural blind. Though I’m a big fan of stand hunting on public land, this area might do better with a ground hunt.

I walked back out and walked up the clear section that parallels the highway. There were some signs of deer activity (tracks and droppings), though not as much as I’d have expected. Not long after taking this photo, I jumped a young doe, which pranced away down the clearing and behind a clump of trees. Though intrigued, I didn’t want to spook the game further so I turned around.

Fresh deer sign

Mind you, this was a quick scouting expedition and I didn’t want to tip my hand to anyone on the highway who might know (or be) another bowhunter. Thus, unlike my Labor Day scouting expedition, which took place in a rural area, in this urban land:

  • I wore my work clothes (khakis and a polo shirt) which I hoped to keep reasonably clean.
  • I had tennis shoes instead of hiking boots. Not a big deal because the ground is so dry.
  • My two favorite scouting tools, GPS and binoculars, were left behind.

Challenges of Hunting Urban Areas

Scouting urban areas for bowhunting is similar to regular scouting, though there are a few important distinctions. Like all scouting, I was interested in answering some obvious questions:

  1. Is there game in the area?
  2. Where are the animals bedding and eating?
  3. What are the travel routes?
  4. Where’s the best place to set up?

Since this is an urban area, I have some other key questions to address:

  1. Is the land accessible, and where can I park?
  2. Can I hunt the area safely and legally?
  3. Will traffic, pedestrians, or other human activities be a factor?

For this area, I’ve answered most of these questions with my scouting expedition. The only gray area is parking. I don’t like the idea of leaving my SUV along a major highway, even on the shoulder. Though it might be possible to park in a residential area nearby and walk in, my appearance in full camo and armed to the teeth would inevitably bring unwanted attention. I’d like a place to park that’s in a low-visibility area, won’t get me a ticket, and is close to the hunting grounds.

So there it is, the greatest challenge of urban hunting is one of the greatest challenges of urban living: finding a place to park.

This article originally appeared on the In Search of Whitetails blog and is republished with permission.

Images copyright Dan Koboldt/In Search of Whitetails

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.