Jonny wrote:What gives it away that you found the spot you want to hunt?
That is the 64 thousand dollar question!
For simplicity, let me answer in broad terms.
The most important thing I have learned here on the beast (and blood brothers before that) is you gotta hunt where the bucks move in daylight (bedding), and you find bedding by "looking where it should be". That is the golden rule! This entire thread is based on finding deer along "edges". Well, happily, both buck and doe bedding areas are rather specific mixes of topography/vegetation that can be exploited by studying maps and checking on foot to verify.
So,....how do I know when I have found "the spot"?
If I had never hunted the area before I would cyber scout potential doe bedding and walk them all, compare notes, and then go back and hunt what seemed the most active right now. However, my actual strategy (because I have hunted here for decades) is to have a daily route to a known primary doe bedding area (defined by me as usually active, but not always)...a route that takes me past some "occasional" doe bedding along the way, and then just compare sign.
Scouting conditions vary from easy (snow), moderately easy (real wet, easy to see tracks in the wet forest floor), to difficult (fluffy dry leaf litter).
If it's easy, I will walk the whole route and then back track to the bedding area I saw the fresh tracks. I have no problem back tracking in the big woods rut hunting scenario. The vast majority of deer will cross my tracks without any reaction. The real challenge comes on the fluffy leaf litter years. With the low deer density, I find fresh tracks, trails, droppings almost impossible to see in these conditions. This is when I will just hunt all day at the primary doe bedding area and observe (hope!). If nothing happens, I may repeat the process on a different primary doe bedding area the next day. I will also wait until 7am before entering the woods and fast walk a bunch of potential doe bedding edges hoping to see some bounding deer and hunt near edges where I saw them.
Once you find your general spot for the day, look for a tree that covers as many edges as possible, factoring in wind flow and natural shooting lanes. The wind flow aspect is a critical link to success. Where I am hunting, the doe bedding is usually associated with pines or thicker cover of some sort, yet my set ups are in the more open woods nearby. The difference in "air friction" between the thicker cover and the more open cover will cause swirling wind currents. What I am learning is if you set up with the wind more parallel to the thick/open edge you will be OK. If you set up with the wind more perpendicular to that edge you will have swirling winds betray you almost every time.