PROSPECTION: optimize your chances of success in hunting thanks to field prospecting

Blogue sur avec Dan Lavoie, guide de chasse, optimiser vos chances de réussite à la chasse grâce à la prospection terrain

There prospecting field, coupled with prospecting methods such as the careful analysis of maps and ecoforestry data, represents an essential strategic investment to considerably increase your success rate in the chase. This method is particularly effective for all forms of chase big game, be it turkeys, bears, deer, moose or others. The principles and techniques apply universally.

These valuable tips come from Dan Lavoie, a guide to chase experimented.

To increase your chances of observing game during your chase, it is essential to locate in advance the areas where the animals are or will be present during your hunting season. Gather as many clues as possible proving their presence in a given area during the previous season. Usually, these kinds of areas will be frequented in the following seasons. 

Regardless of the time of year chosen for the prospecting, keep in mind that investing time in this process is one of the most effective ways to increase your chances of success in the chase moose. While some times may be better than others, every effort counts.

After having previously targeted the potential areas on the maps, it is time to move on to the prospecting in the field. By concentrating your efforts on the targeted points rather than scattering yourself in sectors which could have been avoided thanks to the analysis of the maps, you optimize your efficiency.

In the following sections, we'll dive deeper into this topic by listing several crucial points to check to maximize your search results. Field validation of these points targeted by the analysis is essential.


the after hunting season

The ideal time for prospecting is undoubtedly after the hunting season autumnal. At that time the leaves fell, leaving the trails and moose tracks perfectly visible. The habitats frequented during the rutting period or during your stay in chase are clearly identifiable. Rub marks are fresh and easily spotted from a distance when on the go. The footprints are visible a few weeks later and are still clearly discernible on the ground. It then becomes easier to spot these clues and adjust your strategies and movements in the forest to increase your chances of harvesting moose.

After the hunting season, the forest devoid of moose hunters provides a good environment to explore the limits of your area or hunting area, without disturbances to be feared.


Prospecting spring

The snowmelt marks the beginning of a period conducive to prospecting, offering an alternative for those who cannot perform this procedure immediately after the hunting season. This is particularly relevant for hunters subject to annual draws. For them, the prospecting in the spring is the solution, since they cannot explore the areas of chase after the season, knowing neither their destination nor even their eventual selection. The early period of spring, before the leaves regrow, facilitates the identification of the clues sought.

Prospecting summer

Embark on a prospecting in July or August is it too late? Absolutely not ! Every hour spent in prospecting in the forest is an opportunity to strengthen your hunting season. Do not be discouraged if, after hiking several kilometers in the mountains in search of clues related to your dates of chase, you find that the area that looked promising on the maps turns out to be difficult and disappointing.

However, even this disappointing exploration can have positive value. It saves you from having this disappointing experience during the hunting season. Doing the same route again with the same enthusiasm during the hunting season would have been much more frustrating.

In my opinion, the best time for the prospecting remains immediately after the hunting season. Nevertheless, the prospecting estival brings valuable expertise to add to the analysis of the maps. Like some of the most renowned guides in Quebec, I do prospecting on my hunting territory at various times of the year. After the hunting season, the lack of time unfortunately limits me, and after an intense season like that of 2022 where I covered almost six hundred kilometers in two months, it becomes clear that time is precious.

Furthermore, with a busy schedule in the spring due to the chase bear and moose training, my surveys extend throughout the summer. There are still a few outings to be made at the end of July and the beginning of August. The results obtained thanks to these surveys largely contribute to increasing the chances of success in harvesting chase.

Once the maps have been analyzed and the forest cover identified, you will know where to focus your search for moose according to your dates of chase. So even though it's been several months since these maps were created and the leaves in the forest limit visibility from a distance, you'll be able to spot the clues you're looking for.

Prospecting of last minute

Why not consider a prospecting of last minute ? The day before the start of your expedition of chase, walk the paths and trails of your territory to spot fresh tracks. This will allow you to identify the areas that moose seem to be currently frequenting. By examining these traces, try to deduce their origin and destination. Locate the habitat they are heading towards, which will allow you to plan your chase Consequently. Using your map, identify where you saw moose tracks and mark the best habitat nearby. You will be able to anticipate the potential destination of the owners of these traces and develop a strategy to observe them.

Tools of prospecting terrain

As I pointed out in a previous article, cards still play a crucial role in prospecting. GPS is also an indispensable tool. To cross the mountains and targeted habitats thanks to your analyzes, nothing like it. Don't forget about you wear good walking or hiking boots to keep your feet dry and comfortable, even on steep and wet terrain. During your sessions chase, you will greatly appreciate having explored the area beforehand. This will make your outings more productive, as you will be hunting in the opportune spots, greatly increasing your chances of harvesting.


Looking for clues...

Proceed to the prospecting hotspots identified according to your cartographic analyses. Look for signs of moose presence to confirm your scan results and locate relevant areas based on your dates of chase. If your chase is scheduled between September 15 and October 10, look for scuff marks and smudges, but keep other crucial clues in mind.

As far as moose tracks are concerned, nothing equals their presence to attest to the frequentation of an area by these animals. Pay attention to their origins and destinations. Do not hesitate to explore the places where the tracks seem to come from and to follow them.

Locate and verify feeding and sheltering sites (breeding areas) rest) that you previously identified on the maps. Moose spend most of their time looking for food, so scouting out these food sources is crucial. Also look for sleeping areas in muddy areas of mature forests. These strategic locations indicate where to hunt during warmer periods.

I have already mentioned it in previous texts, but it is important to target the natural edges left by logging between each plot of wood. Strips of 10 to 15 meters along temporary or permanent watercourses must also be preserved along the edges. These strips of mature wood between cut areas form natural transition zones that moose regularly use to move between feeding sites and roosting areas. rest.

Do not hesitate to prospect these areas, because you could be surprised by what you will discover there, even if they are close to the paths. Hunting pressure forces moose to seek less good places. Even if we consider that moose prefer tranquility, the hunting pressure can sometimes push them to explore unusual habitats to escape this pressure.

As I mentioned in the map analysis, don't underestimate blowdowns. When prospecting, examine these areas to assess their food potential and establish how close you can get. Although sometimes difficult to navigate due to their condition, windthrows are excellent food sources for moose. Knowing their location will save you from venturing there during the chase if they are too degraded. Windfalls let in more sunlight, which stimulates the growth of young hardwoods in the undergrowth. This is particularly true for spruce windfalls. In general, these areas become quality feeding sites, and they should absolutely be part of your field surveys. The information on the maps will tell you the year of the windfall, as well as its extent. All of this information is important.

During your prospecting, if you have extra time, this is also an opportunity to identify places where moose take refuge during hot weather. I am not talking here about the rut period of females, but rather periods of high temperatures. In recent years, the hunting season was often marked by heat waves.

Although temperatures rarely reach 33 degrees, consecutive days of 20-25 degrees can impact moose. In the fall, after the moult, the moose's coat becomes thicker to cope with the cold season. They therefore seek cool and well-ventilated places. Clues you should look for in this case include wet areas where moose might wallow, as well as shaded areas where the sun does not penetrate through the forest canopy.

Ruth zones

Don't forget to prospect the potential rut areas identified during your cartographic analysis. You will be able to confirm or deny your information. Sometimes the terrain provides additional information that cannot be detected on the maps. Some natural landforms, for example, can create wetter areas naturally. It is crucial to record all the information collected. It is common for certain sectors of chase do not appear to have specific rutting areas or that these areas are not obvious on maps. In this case, based on tracks, browses and trails, explore the habitats located in the direction that the moose tracks seem to indicate. It is imperative to locate sleeping areas.

Even slightly elevated landforms in softwood or mixed forest near feeding grounds can hide a male, identifiable by plume rubbings. It is important not to confuse these rubbings with reliefs (consumption of bark). The two behaviors are quite distinct.

(above: place of friction)

(Image above: moose notch area)

Moose feed by chewing on the bark of deciduous trees with their teeth. It also requires moist soil. Males seek out areas matching these criteria to establish their rutting territories, often near feeding areas for females and calves.

The advantage of regularly hunting the same area

Hunting the same area regularly is a different experience and will increase your harvest chance percentage of your hunt. After exploring a mountain or a patch of forest without prior analysis, you realize the importance of this step and learn from this unsuccessful outing. Over the seasons, you get to know the intricacies of your area of chase. You're one step ahead when it comes to locating feeding areas, rest and rutting areas. After several seasons of hunting the same area, surely you have already successfully harvested in the right places and you know perfectly well the hot spots where you could encounter a male. These advantages are reserved for hunters aware of the importance of this approach. Make full use of this knowledge to maximize your time and your chances of success.

In conclusion, just as the analysis of the cards is a fundamental step before your chase, the prospecting ground is just as important. These two methods complement each other and together represent the best investment to increase your chances of success and action during your future outings. chase, and thus increase your chances of success. I wish you a hunting season exceptional.

Dan Lavoie, Guide to Chase


See the clip of Dan at work: