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Morken: Plans for 2018 season come into focus

A nice buck rub on a public piece of land near Alexandria. This time of year is great for getting onto new pieces of land to scout and see what kind of potential spots might have for the following season. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Rarely a day goes by where I am not thinking ahead to the 2018 deer hunting season.

Planning for upcoming hunts almost gets me as excited as the hunts themselves. Looking at gear and gadgets, scouting, planning new adventures, I love all this about the off-season.

One change I have settled on with my setup for next year is moving to a single-pin sight on my bow. I am intrigued by having a clearer sight picture with just the one vertical pin. I want to do everything I can to make the quickest kill possible on an animal. Accuracy is at the forefront of that, and if a single-pin sight can help in the moment of truth even a little bit, I want to try it.

Scouting and planning other hunting opportunities have also been on my to-do list this off-season. I have been poring over aerial maps of North and South Dakota over the last month. My plan is to drive to these border states and knock on a lot of doors. I would love to find a mutual contact as a starting point in a conversation with landowners. That's not always possible, so I have a resume written out to give landowners as a way for them to understand who I am a little bit in hopes that this will lead to a few permissions.

If that doesn't happen, I am committed to getting out of state and bowhunting public land in 2018. That goes for Minnesota too where I want to be able to fill my freezer with a couple of does in the permit areas that allow it around Alexandria. The more options I have, the less pressure I can apply to one specific area, which can lower deer sightings pretty quick.

I set out on a nice day in mid-February to scout some public land I had never been on in the area. This is a couple-hundred acre piece that has a good mixture of water, grassland and tree cover on it. Corn and soybean fields on the private lands next to it offer a good food source.

It has all the makings to hold deer, and I was not disappointed when I walked the land earlier this month. Trails were everywhere in the typical spots hunters expect to find them - running parallel below the top of ridges, along edges and through funnels.

After about an hour of looking, I came upon an area that I'm excited to hunt next September. It is an intersection where two trails come together on a saddle. There was a nice buck rub about 20 yards from this location. All signs point to this being a heavily-used travel corridor.

Anyone who wants to hunt this area has to travel a long ways, likely with a stand on their back if they are archers. It also seems to feature relatively good access when it comes to getting in and out undetected in the timber the deer are likely to be coming from. I'll know more after a couple sits, but I have high hopes that this spot can produce a doe for me in the early season when pressure might still be minimal.

That's what these winter months are for. Planning, prepping, scouting and allowing ourselves to dream big about what the next season might bring.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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