Birds and other critters have a tendency to find themselves enjoying the sunny spot on a hill side, basking in the mid day sun. In the hot weather deer, bighorn sheep, and other animals may duck out of the sun and find some shade. Did you know that you can predict the path of the sun across terrain while cyberscouting?
Scouting from the Couch
While it’s nice to know off the top of your head which hill directions or “aspects” will have sun during which times there’s also a quick way to simulate it. Google Earth allows you to simulate a sunrise-sunset cycle of a given day. It approximates that day and uses the terrain and angle of the sun to project what landscapes will catch the light and when. Now, it doesn’t account for trees, so your mileage may vary, however it gets the broad strokes correctly.
Areas with the longest sun exposure during the day will often be the warmest spots. They have more time to soak up the sun’s rays. Use that knowledge to your advantage and find birds sunning themselves or the area where frost is likely to burn off the quickest.
Here’s how to do it. Fire up Google Earth and find your area of interest. In the top menu bar select the icon of the sun peeking out over the cloud. From there it will pop up a slider between days or hours.
To set the start and end times to something custom, select the little gear icon on the top right of the slider. From there you can chose start and end times, date, timezone, and speed. Play around with it a little and narrow it down to the day of your choice.
Remember the field that we measured in our other cyberscouting protip? This is the same mountain field and how the sun angles in during early May. There’s an area of the field on the western side that illuminates first along the treeline and the sun pokes across the horizon and the angle increases it washes across in both east and west.
Putting it into Action
So how does it pan out when we’re in the field? So glad you asked. Here we are setting up in the southern “bulb” of this field on the East side with a turkey decoy out. Placing the decoy towards the center of the field ensures that it’s illuminated quickly. If it’s like my HS Strut decoy it’s deformed some in your backpack during pack in, so it’ll need some time to get pliable and look more realistic.
Placing the sunrise at your back in some setups will ensure that what is in front of you is illuminated first, giving you the first peek at what’s in the field. Considering the sun during cyberscouting is probably one of the last things people do unless they’re foragers. This tip however should help you in not being seen by critters as you pass over a field illuminated before the treeline, or find shade on a sunny day.