Exploring 'new' hunting land
By Luke Clayton
Mar 14, 2019
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I thoroughly enjoy scouting ‘new’ land that I have permission to hunt and fish on. Many years ago, this often equated to a study of maps (plats) or reading the land description on a deed and actually walking the perimeter fences, compass in hand, in attempt to locate the property I had had acquired access to.

In my younger life, I spent many years as a surveyor and in retrospect, some of my ‘scouting’ trips on hunting lands often equated to a rough survey of perimeter fences, fields, creeks and ponds. I would often create a working map as I went. Granted, I thoroughly enjoyed the process but it did require wearing out a lot of boot leather and many hours in the field.

Scouting new hunting areas today is much, much easier. Land is already mapped down to the most minute detail. All that is required is a cell phone with an internet connection to Google Earth or a good App, no survey skills required! I have an App on my phone called HUNT STAND this is absolutely awesome for scouting and, many other applications. The basic App is free to download but added features can be purchased.

There are also many fine and economically priced GPS units available today that will help you find your way around on unfamiliar land. 

This past week, my good friend Josh Houser with Preferred Wildlife Properties in Rockwall, Texas granted me access to hunt and fish on several hundred acres situated a few miles from my home, very close to the Trinity River. Josh knows I love hunting wild hogs and after spending some time scouting, I soon learned the land is ground zero for hog hunting.

Wild porkers love water courses and the jungle of vegetation along the river creates near perfect habitat. Upon close inspection, I found a serpentine network of hog trails leading into and out of the dense cover. In the center of the property lies several acres of live oak trees and the ground is covered with tons of soured acorns. A wild hog haven with 20 acres of natural bait situated right in the middle! 

I spent several hours last week walking the entire property, dropping ‘pins’ on the map of my GPS that marked trails, areas with heavy hog sign, etc.

The satellite map on Google Earth made my scouting much quicker, easier and fun! As I walked along, a blue dot on my cell phone marked my travels, showing in great detail every feature on the property. Studying the map while taking a breather in a grove of oaks not far from the river, I discovered an oxbow lake off the main river channel. By using a feature on the app that measures distances, I discovered this channel to be approximately a half mile long, averaging 50 to 70 yards wide.

By the look of the steep banks, the channel probably had some depth to it as well.  As I walked deeper into the remote area, along the edge of the channel, I noted what appeared to be an old cabin or fishing camp on the opposite side.

While exploring some new hunting land, Luke recently discovered this old overgrown camp. It’s interesting to reflect upon who built the old structure, when and for what purpose. Luke is betting because of its proximity to the water, it’s was used as a fishing camp but not knowing it’s exact purpose adds to the intrigue. photo by Luke Clayton

Ash saplings had overgrown the area around the cabin but the old structure had withstood the test of time. To actually gain access to the cabin, I would have had to cross the channel by boat and probably cut my way in with an ax or machete. On my side of the channel, I noticed a prominent little point of land jutting out into the channel. It was a perfect for casting off the bank and I am positive that whoever built and used the old cabin had spent lots of time fishing from the bank here or possibly anchoring a trotline a tree root and stretching it across the channel. Because of the proximity of the channel to the river, there is little doubt that it is well stocked with catfish and possibly white bass as well.

During spring floods, it’s a good bet that everything on the levee side of the river is flooded, resulting in a natural stocking of all sorts of game fish. I placed a marker on the GPS app for the remote little cabin so that I can easily find it again when I return with my johnboat and possible a trotline or at least a few jug lines to test the catfishing possibilities.

I can only imagine the adventures encountered by early day trappers that explored truly unknown lands back in the early 1800's. I’m sure they would have a tough time attempting to understand the technology we take for granted today. Truthfully, I probably don’t have much more of an idea of how some of today’s technology works than the trappers of yesteryear. I’m just happy we have it. It makes scouting for this old outdoorsman much easier!

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