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Scouting Whitetails From a Bike

7/4/2012
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Gary Harpole Illinois WhitetailThe first thing you think of when scouting whitetails is not using a bike. I am not talking about a motorcycle but a bike that has pedals. Those who know me know that I like racing in triathlons and part of my training is riding the rolling hills of Pike and Calhoun Counties on my road bike. Being an avid whitetail hunter, one of the benefits of my training is seeing the bucks develop over the summer months. I start to see what bucks are using certain fields that later in the fall will be ones I am hunting.

The greatest part of using a bike for scouting is that the deer can’t hear you like they can a vehicle. Just this morning I rode up behind a mature doe fully alert looking ahead walking down the middle of the road, and when I was less than 15yrds from her I finally said, “Boo”… and she took off. I can’t tell you how many fields I have snuck upon and seen deer in them. Many times they have no clue I am even there. Yes, when they see me they run like heck, but many times I am with a few feet before they know. And for some reason they like to run right in front of me. Having a 160” whitetail in full velvet 5yrds in front of you is pretty awesome! As the summer progresses they get use to my bike and seem to stay put in the fields more.

Seeing these deer and wildlife up close is amazing but it does bring some danger. Especially when riding early in the morning (My favorite time). You can get TOO CLOSE! Take it from me when a pack of raccoons ran out in front of me less than a yard away last year! My front wheel hit the biggest raccoon, stopping my bike and sending me over the handlebars. After hitting the pavement, my helmet was cracked, blood was running down my face, and a level three separated shoulder was my prize for hitting the raccoon.  Yes, the raccoon was ok for those that are more concerned about him, but if I didn’t have my helmet on, I really think I could have ended up much worse. So when you are scouting please wear a helmet and be safe. I know, those goofy helmets look like something out of a science fiction movie, but I may not be typing this right now if I didn’t have a helmet on.  So be safe while you are riding and always look for cars.

This morning when I got up at 5:00 for my 50mile ride it couldn’t have been any nicer. It was a cool 60 degrees and the wildlife was everywhere. In our area the sound of Quail whistling first thing in the morning is something I will never get tired of. This morning, I saw no less than a 100 deer and I would guess 20 of them already had racks that would score over 130! (This first week in July) Some you could tell are going to be giants!! One in particular looked like he was already 150”!! It was one of the most enjoyable rides I have had in a long time. And yes, Mr. Raccoon showed up again, but this time I was ready for him. (A tip when riding, you have front and rear brakes. Keep your hand close to the rear break and away from the front brake. If you have to stop fast and use the front brake you will end up doing a flip over the handlebars like I did! J)

Try using a bike next time for your scouting. You not only get to see deer up close but you will also be getting in shape for the upcoming hunting season!

Gary Harpole

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