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Tons of deer sign but no deer!

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by stooxie, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Northern Virginia

    I need help!

    Here's the situation. I've attached a satellite image of the area I am hunting. Basically there are deer droppings and beds all over the dang place but zero deer in the morning. At least no deer where I have been standing.

    The yellow dots are droppings, and I mean fresh ones. The large blue outline is the property (27 acres). The #1 is the ladder stand I put up. The #2 is a permanent blind. The red circle is my latest thought on location.

    When I hunted one morning in the stand (#1) I heard two deer rustle around 5:45. They hung around for a bit and then just walked behind me and off to the right of the picture. Too early for a shot.

    When I hunted the blind (#2) today, hoping to catch and deer that are said to go from point #1 off to the right, I found nothing.

    The red circle is at the end of a barbed wire fence with very thick bramble and Osage trees covering it. I placed a small chair nestled into the bramble that will give me cover but also allow me to see the area very nicely.

    The only think I can think of is to hunt in the evening instead of the morning. The land owner has said that he's seen more deer in the evenings as of late. As for other patterns, trails, etc, he says they are all over the place. Random.

    I know it's a little crazy of me to ask, but anyone have any ideas on where these deer are ending up? My guess is that they arrive in the evening to bed down but take off in the middle of the night, hence I find nothing in the morning but tons of deer sign. I don't think scent is a problem, I go through the rituals and there are people, farm animals, woodstoves, everywhere. These deer are well used to people.
    This is Northern Virginia.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. gruntmedik

    gruntmedik Honk Honk CLM

    Jan 2, 2005
    Taylorsville, KY
    I would try a stand in the tree line by the 4 yellow dots you have pictured, maybe 10 yds or so inside the tree line. Look for trails leading from the woods to the field. Just to the left of the left most dot, there appears to be a path/trail coming out to the field. If there is a fence line there, look for any sagging fence, low spots in the ground where deer may jump/crawl under. Look for hair on the fence.

    I agree with trying there in the evening.

    Good luck.

  3. Just by looking at the photo I'd say the problem is the area is too open. Deer generally don't like being out in the middle of a field during daylight.

    You'll catch them in the early morning just before or as the sun comes up, or in the evening just before the sun goes down.

    I would concentrate more on the edge of the wood like to the south of the property.

    Deer are creatures of the edge, the like the transition areas between woods and fields.

    One other thing, from the looks of that red circle it's right near a road. Most counties in VA require you to be at least 100 yards from a road when hunting with a firearm.

    And finally the most important thing I've found in deer hunting is persistence. You really need to be spending all day in the field, or if not you need to try some evenings of hunting as well until you figure out the pattern of the deer.
  4. agreed to all and have to strongly agree with the first poster. A stand or blind or seat and wait before the sun comes up and hope a deer comes in off the field. Follow the wind or stay down of it and adjust your position.

    Where the clumps of dropping and west-southly ( if that arrow = north _) is what I would stay at. Are the deer are going out into the field ? if yes for food, what type? are they bedding down at night and comingback in at AM?
    Those are the things you might have to figure out.

    I would also suggest if the area adjacent to a red circle and chair is a road, why don't you set out one late evening/night down from that location and watch the evening to see if the deer and traveling down that area over to road into other fields. Deer are roamers and have to bed to allow for the multiple stomachs to digest their food ( chewing cud if I may ) so you have alot of items to think about. A deer bedding in a field with a good view and for an predator to not sneak up on hhim/her is what they might be doing. But when the sun comes high and string they aren't going to be in open areas unless they have to.

    Be patience and when you get that 10pt Buck make sure you post picture and story and tell us the what/how/whens ;)
  5. 357glocker


    Oct 28, 2002
    I've had a few spots go "dry" on me once the shooting seasons start. They are still there but they turn into ghosts by hiding under rocks or something! Seriously, they become nocturnal and start moving more during the hours of darkness and are bedded down by dawn. Now it's just a waiting game for you. Sit still all day long they will eventually move sometime during the day, but not for long. 27acres is not that much and if you are absolutely certain they are bedded on that piece of property move in slow and with a rifle you don't have to get on top of them. Don't spook them up and send them running off or you might not see them for the rest of the season.
    After looking at the picture one more time it dawned on me, you don't have much access to that big lot of trees. It looks like you can hunt the outter portion of those trees. During daytime hours you may get a deer or two to skirt the edge. Set up a tree stand on the very last edge you can hunt in those woods and get there at least 1 1/2 hours before shooting time. You'll see those deer start to filter in 15-30mins before shooting time. Hopefully you can get some to stick around long enough. In the evening if you haven't sat there all day, get there about 2pm, make no noise in and sit quiet. The deer will use the edge of the field as a staging area towards sunset. Get permission to go deeper in those woods, you'll find those deer!
  6. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    After 4 trips and finding almost nothing, I think, sir, you are correct.

    I think the deer are all hanging out in the 40-50 acres of trees adjacent to where I was. I figured they would venture out during the day to the corn fields across the street, or come back from there. Nope, nada.

    Every day I'd see fresh beds, fresh scat, fresh tracks, refreshed trails, etc, etc, not neither hide nor hair during the day. (Except for these two stragglers that I would encounter before shootin' time and then not again).

    I'll see if I can get the land owner to talk to the forest owner.

  7. when hunting pressure goes up deer get nocturnal

    same deer you see during the daylight {diurnal} goes to an different approach during hunting season.
  8. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Right, so I have painfully discovered! ;)

    But does that mean the pressured deer totally lays low until the day is black? They never exit the woods? What if there's no water in the woods? That patch isn't so big. 50 acres isn't that big to a deer, and a person could walk across it in 10-15 mins.

  9. 357glocker


    Oct 28, 2002
    Oh man, you'd be surprised where a big buck will hang out. Think small! I'm talking good hunting spots on 10 or less acre areas!
    Change your tactics a little. They will move. Maybe move away from the trees and shoot over the open ground. Give them some room and if you have a rifle, put it to use with a 100+yrd shot if your up to it!
  10. JCW355

    JCW355 9MM user

    Feb 20, 2006
    Sand Springs, Oklahoma
    There on the night shift.
  11. {But does that mean the pressured deer totally lays low until the day is black? They never exit the woods? What if there's no water in the woods? That patch isn't so big. 50 acres isn't that big to a deer, and a person could walk across it in 10-15 mins.}

    Yes and no it all depends on location and amount of pressure.

    >I've personally seen deer stand/wade in waterways to avoid hunters in the middle of the day. Until you seen a WT deer swiming , you haven't seen a beautiful animal and smart animal.

    >I've seen more big bucks standing on the roadway at night than what I've seen in the same area during the day.

    >People even reported that some deer will bed down in a clump of tall palmettos during the day to avoid danger.

    I've also have to stated for the record & for my 20 plus years of trying to kill deer, I've seen way more big racked Bucks at night than what I have ever seen during daylight and even more truely when deer season has started.


    Last year I was in TX around NOV 5 ( opener for tx in that area ) and I counted about 9 big bucks and I mean big bodied 6 pts up to maybe a 10 or possible 12 rack right outside of my parent place which is a small farming community outside of SanAntonio during a course of 10 days. All where spot walking thru fields with home on eitherside and at night. And I wasn't even trying to look for them. Some even used a finger of mesquite next to my neighbor property to "escape" and cover/stealth their movement when going from fields to where ever they where going thru.

    During the day hours noway would that buck have done that ;) Maybe and a short maybe a buck my cross one of those fields PRE-nov-5 but they aren't stupid.

    A old saying that goes something like this;

    "A old buck don't get old by being stupid " really does apply ;)

    btw: I would love to radio collar a deer in SE-fla and see what/where he go and do during the day/night. I remember reading a biologist reportin WIS that did just that on a deer and had live data to show Mr Buck movements and location. It was some real cool stuff ;)
  12. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Ok, so what about a cold snap? I'm reading now that when the weather gets colder deer will conserve warmth and energy during the frigid night and be more compelled to eat during the warmer daylight. Here in VA it's been pretty warm for the past month, but it's cooling down. Temps in the 20's at night, up to 40 during the day.

    Any thoughts on that? I'm thinking that maybe when it gets really cold that harvested corn field across the way might be more tempting to them.

  13. From my buddies experiences, doing all the wrong things, as I am too gimpy to hunt anymore.

    Wash your hunting cloths in scent Free laundry detergent, with no bleach of any kind, pre-rinse your washing machine with an load of water and "Free" detergent only. Don't use fabric softener for the same reasons and air dry your cloths, the dryer is full of bleach residues. The bleach is "blueing" which refelcts Ultraviolet light. This makes you look like a freeking bank of landing light at the airport!

    Don't: shave, use a mouthwash, comercial toothpaste to brush your teeth or smoke at all for 24 hours before the hunt. Bath yourself with uncented soap and use baking soda to brush your teeth.

    Use Deer scent masking products around your stand or blind.

    Stay put once you are on station, don't move around much or make noise of any kind. Don't eat a lot for breakfast as it slows down you mental processes and carry energy bars that have a good balance of carb, protines and fats. The "Zone" brand is good. Eat you snacks and drink water or a thermos of hot decaff tea or coffee, as caffine will give you the jitters and make you want to take a leak to often.

    Just the lessons from my friends and my 2 cents.


    An aside:

    Two guys go hunting. Jerry has never gone hunting while Joe has hunted all his life.

    When they get to the northern Wisconsin woods, Joe tells Jerry to sit by a tree and not make a sound while Joe checks out a deer stand. After he gets about a quarter of a mile away, Joe hears a blood-curdling scream.

    He rushes back to Jerry and yells, "I thought I told you to be quiet!"

    Jerry says, "Hey, I tried. I really did. When those snakes crawled over me, I didn't make a sound. When that bear was breathing down my neck, I didn't make a peep. But when those two chipmunks crawled up my pants leg and said, 'Should we take them with us or eat them here?' I couldn't keep quiet any more!"
    George Bush and George W. Bush were dragging the deer they had just shot back to their truck. Another hunter approached, pulling his along, too.

    "Sirs, I don't want to tell you how to do something," he said, "But I can tell you that it's much easier if you drag the deer the other way. Then the antlers won't dig into the ground."

    After the third hunter left, they decided to try it. A little while later George said to George, "You know, that guy was right. This is a lot easier!"

    "Yeah," says George, "but we're getting farther from the truck."

    :thumbsup: :supergrin:
  14. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: