I just came upon your post. Since I 'm not familiar with the terrain you hunt, I try to give you a couple of tips. Several deer crossing a road in almost a single file motion(check tracks ) are almost always going to a feeding area. They seldom return to a bedding area in the same fashion.
If you are permitted to bail in your area, choose any area where tracks can be easily identified(soft ground,mud). Then after a couple of days of feeding you can sometimes have an idea of what is attending for lunch(huge track, nice track, etc.)
If you can provide more info, I sure some of the folks here would be more than glad to assist.
Generally speaking, if I'm scouting an area I'm unfamiliar with, I try to find a feeding area and work backwards. From a hay field, bean field, corn, whatever is in your area, you can easily find tracks and trails leading to and from the food source. I also like to look for scrapes and rubs along the edges. Bucks in my area like to make scrapes where tree limbs hang over the field...they like to lick and rub their antlers on the limbs while they make the scrape.
You can follow a hot run (deer trail) into the woods and see where they come from and go to bed. I would try to scout about a week before the hunt, if possible, so as not to spook the deer out of the area by wandering around the woods.
In the evenings, I like to hunt field edges. In the mornings, I prefer to be in the woods near bedding areas.
I like to find a creek and walk up and down looking for heavily used crossings. Especially crossings that look like they have been used for years, worn down on the banks. Determine which direction the deer are headed and start following the trail. Going to lead you to feeding or bedding area. Get out those scouting cameras and see what's passing through. More than likely a stand close to one of these trails is going to produce.
These heavily used trails usually used most by doe groups and young, but when that rut hits those bucks will be crossing these trails. I always scout for does early in the season, and get ready for the rut from there.
Relly like the idea of the cameras. I bought a Stealth Cam for ~ $50 and set it up in an area that use to have deer all the time, and then the area seem to dry up. No deer sign, so I decided to set up the camera just to help see if anything was in the area. I was really suprised to see 7 Huge bucks and seeveral does when I developed the film.
I like to scout in the summer alot of the time the deer are alot more content in the summer soon as the little bit of cold weather comes down here they are like ghosts. I agree with what everyone said I always look for the source of the food and water wherever those are there is going to be deer.
There can be too much of a good thing with antler rattling.
I like to hit the horns together for a good 30- to 40-second rattling sequence and then hang them up and resist the urge to hit them again.
This works to the hunter's advantage, because if a buck has heard it, he may have been 300 or 400 yards away and he comes in and he's not exactly sure where it came from.
When finally is time to rattle again throw a slight change-up into the routine.
The second time, don't rattle as loud...