It's cold and we are entering the last stand of winter. The trails have been used and the beds are melted. Food sources have been regular and travel is consistent. Now is indeed the best time to scout.
Being invasive this time of year is the least damage causing time. There is a large period of time from now until you will return toting your hunting gear. Another HUGE reason that makes this the best time to scout is because there is still snow on the ground. Snow acts like a huge trail camera that shows you everything. Nothing can move without giving themselves up. Except birds if you wanted to be technical.
Find trails and walk them. I know, this goes against everything you've ever heard, but this time of year you can get away with it. The snow reveals these major trails. Yes, some trails may not be as they appear now in the fall. But, for the most part they will. Some food sources my alter the trails, but for the most part they are the main trails the deer use all year long to get to and fro. Make sure to mentally mark these trails and don't be afraid to hang a stand on them for next season already. You can mark these trails on your GPS as well. Just make sure you find them and mark them one way or another. These trails are very important to your success. You will be amazed at how many answers you get from these trails.
Another huge aspect to scouting now is beds. Beds are very easy to see. Large ovals are much easier to see in the snow than in the tall green grasses of summer. And, you will do far less damage this time of year as far as educating your immediate herd. Same applies to beds as trails. Find them. Make note of locations. And remember them!
Now you can take it one step further. Figure out which routes connect the two. Which tails lead to and from the beds. This is a huge piece of the movement puzzle. Find trails that lead strictly to food sources. Are you starting to see how scouting now can be key to your success come fall? The snow really reveals everything.
Another major sign to keep your eyes pealed for are rubs. Find sneaky routes that solo bucks have been using. You can find them now without feeling like you shouldn't be out stomping around like you might have felt in the fall. The same buck or new bucks will likely use them again because they are proven to be safe. Again, find them and mark them. The pieces are all their folks, its just up to us to put them all together into something that makes sense. Grab a note pad and a pen for taking notes and hit the woods. Fresh air does wonders this time of year!