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I Need Lessons on Deer Scouting, Please.

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by JIMLOU, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. JIMLOU

    JIMLOU

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    Gentlemen:

    I've been a shooter and casual hunter since the age of 12. I sort of got "lucky" and killed my one and only deer on my first deer hunt at the age of 15. My deer hunting since has been spotty at best and due to my schedule, I've not seriously hunted in several years.

    My son is eleven now and this will be his first deer season. I made an early birthday purchase for him this year of a Remington Model Seven in .243 and we have spent the last couple of weekends zeroing the piece and practicing shooting from positions (sitting mostly, as we have no plans for stand hunting). My son has been shooting since the age of seven and has taken to his first centerfire rifle nicely. I'm very confident with the shooting side of things, but to tell the truth, I really have no clue as to how to set ourselves up for a successful hunt in October. Here's where y'all come in.

    We will be hunting in the foothills of Eastern Kentucky. I'm hoping that some of you will be able to provide a brief primer on the basics of scouting for Southern whitetails. As stated, my previous experiences in the deer woods have been based purely on chance. How best can I scout good locations to give my Boy a fair chance of a shot? (I might point out that we are simply looking for a nice young doe to stock the larder and provide tasty jerkey.)

    Thanks in Advance,


    JIMLOU
     
  2. Spentshell

    Spentshell

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    Sleep,Eat,Ambush.

    Find their beds,find their food source and set up downwind of their travel route between the two. Try to find a funnel area where several trails converge and you will up your odds considerably.
     

  3. mpol777

    mpol777 Feral Member

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    Field and Stream has some good info. Poke around their site for a while.

    Spentshell has it right though. Knowing their movement is pretty key and not too hard to figure out. Find a spot where there's plenty of food and look for trails leading to a bedding spot.

    Take your boy with you when you scout. It's a lot more fun that way.
     
  4. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

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    This may sound to 'simple,' but just get out and watch, listen, and learn, the area you are hunting.

    One more thing... "Never" discount miday hunting!

    While most hunters 'pack it in,' for noon time munchies, you may just miss the buck of a life time.

    In fact, in all the years i've hunted deer, my favorite hunting time, (for me), is between the hours of noon and 3:00pm.

    Yes i have killed deer in the early morning hours, and the eveving as well, but the 'majority' of all i have shot, and the biggest bucks, have all been in this time frame.

    BTW... I am not suggesting this is as some 'magical time as opposed to te rest of the day/eve, i am saying, most hunters go in at noon and come back later towards evening, and they are truly missing out on some good big buck hunting. Alot of big bucks will check their scrapes between noon and 3-4pm. Works for us. stay out there! :)

    Good hunting!


    Canyonman
     
  5. duncan

    duncan Lifetime Member Millennium Member

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    A guided hunt for the first couple is a good option.
     
  6. Hard Charger

    Hard Charger Plotting Member

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    Along the lines of what canyonman was saying, other hunters moving out of the woods will help move deer around. That is a good reason to stay in all day.

    In areas with big fields, try to watch a wooded\brushy fenceline. Deer start feeling pressure in early bow season, so come gun season, they are really wary. They don't like to cross an open field (if they can avoid it), so if you can find fields with cross-fences separating them, the brush along the cross-fence makes good cover for the deer. They tend to hang close to the edge of a field whenever possible. They don't seem to want to get too far from cover. They also seem to like transition areas, like where a hardwood stand meets pine trees. They will move through the pines because it is quieter, then they will move shallow into the hardwoods to browse. Piney areas offer more cover when the leaves are off the trees in winter.

    Edges of fields seem to be a popular place for rubs. Find several rubs together and you have a hot spot.

    If you hunt near roads in an agricultural area, watch for crossings where the woods come up to the road. Deer will cross a road where there are woods up to both sides, or where the woods are closest to the road. The idea is limiting their exposure.


    Keep your hunting clothes outside, that way you can help eliminate human odors on your clothes. Use a scent system to cover up what you cannot defeat.

    You can fool a deers eyesight and hearing. Buy you cannot fool his sense of smell.

    Find out the rut times for your area, and hunt real heavy during the rut. Bucks have something else on their minds during rut, and that can make them careless.

    When you hunt, get in the woods super early. Chances are, when you move in, you will run deer out. If you get in early, then other hunters may run them back toward you. Being there early also allows the woods to "die down" before sunlight, so the deer will forget about the noises they heard while you were moving in.

    Never take a leak near your hunting spot.
     
  7. Michigun

    Michigun Miss Michigan?

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    Very good info above!

    I’ll add this: Deer like to see what they can’t smell & smell what they can’t see.

    When hunting a standing corn field for an instance, if the wind is blowing out of the West I’ll hunt the East side of that corn field.

    I use a plastic 20oz pop/soda bottle myself… those caps seal up nice & tight… I’ll spray the outside of the bottle down with a “scent killer” afterwards.
     
  8. BrianDamage

    BrianDamage YouTalkin'ToMe?

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    pick up a few Greg Miller books. He gives ALOT of good info on scouting.

    Proven Whitetail Tactics
    Aggressive Whitetail Hunting
    Rub-Line Secrets
     
  9. Boogity Boogity

    Boogity Boogity Atkins Man

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    Along the lines of what HC was saying about deer crossing an open field. Whenever I see tracks of a deer WALKING across an open field, I always assume that it was nighttime movement.

    I have spent a lot of days hunting over soybean fields after harvest. I don't ever remember seeing one cross the middle of the field, but maybe cutting across the corner or following the brushline around the edges. The fencelines like HC mentions, were always my most productive areas. The places I used to hunt had wooded strips about 20 feet wide separating the fields. They were like funnels. Very productive.


    I have seen boobs build their stands on those brushlines. My idea was to set up on the side of the field so my scent, any noise, or any movement would not deter the deer from crossing in the brushlines.


    Deer are creatures of habit, and like humans, they prefer the path of least resistance. Normally speaking, during their typical, unpressured travel. To cross a creek with high banks, if possible the deer will find a low place and use that crossing routinely; until they smell a hunter sitting there. They can run up a steep hill, but it burns more energy and they are creatures that conserve energy when possible.

    They also develop "runs" that they use to escape danger. Usually a "deer run" is over flat area with few obstructions. Usually they are well traveled paths. Deer use them to build up speed, their best defense, when escaping predators.
     
  10. bcowen22001

    bcowen22001

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    Whats worked for me hunting in the Mississippi delta is to find their food source and wait patiently. This may sound crazy but get a set of the moon tables. They are usually printed in Outdoor Life Magazine. Hunt at the times that are mentioned for major and minor moon cycles. Wild game as well as fish are known for feeding intensely at these times of day. You can usually tell when a moon cycle has started because owls will start to hoot in daylight hours. I also have to agree from 2:00pm till dark are some of the best times for whitetails. Stay on that stand most of the day. But be sure to take breaks for lunch and to do your duty along way from your hunting area. And be back on that stand know later than 3:00pm.
     
  11. Rebeldon

    Rebeldon

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    Look for rubs and scrapes. That would be an area where they feel safe and like to hang out for short periods.

    Early in the morning they are headed back to their beds. In the late afternoon, they are leaving their beds to go look for something to eat. Find a clearing they have to cross through when they leave or return.
     
  12. Rooster Rugburn

    Rooster Rugburn Got Pignose?

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    You will want to follow a big heavy trail to a deers bedding area so you know where it is so you can ambush them on their way to it. BUT, if you disturb them while bedding, or stink up the bedding area, they will find another area to bed.

    When approaching a bedding area, you will notice that the main trail splits into a few lighter trails. If you persist, you can usually see where they have worn down the grass. Most of the bedding areas I ever spotted were in tall sage brush in open (treeless) areas. But that may be because I would not notice them in the woods on fallen leaves. I guess being in an open field allows them to see what is approaching and make a fast getaway. I once walked up on a doe and two fawns that were bedding. Somehow I spotted one of the fawns' head sticking up. I watched for a while, and eventually the doe got up and presented me with a broadside shot at about 20 yards. She didn't run, she didn't bleat to her fawns or get them up. She was a legal deer, but I don't hunt does. I often wonder if she was going to sacrifice herself to save her fawns.

    In your scouting, find some white oak trees that are loaded with acorns. White oak acorns are supposedly sweeter and deer like them when they fall. Also find any agricultural fields in the area. During the early part of bow season, before the harvest, you can hunt the crops, after the harvest there will not be as much feed for the deer. But the deer may return at some time to try and scavenge what they can.

    Right now deer will be feeding on agricultural crops, but after the harvest they will probably move into the woods for the falling acorns. Any where you can find winter greenery, you will find munching deer. All the deer I have killed in the winter, had green vegetation in their stomachs. Stuff like honeysuckle, winter grasses etc. It's out there, you just have to find it.

    If you are hunting around crops, take note when they are harvested. In my area, soybeans are usually harvested just before Thanksgiving. That way I can plan to hunt the acorns after the harvest.

    Try to pinpoint their travel patterns to and from the feeding and bedding areas. You won't be able to do that with acorn feeding because they won't be eating acorns for a few weeks. But know where they are. If you don't know your trees, learn them. Learn to differentiate between white oak, red oak, and water oak. Find stands with a lot of white oaks and pick a spot to set up a stand. Clear the area now so you won't disturb any routines during the season.

    If you hunt public land, find where the trails cross the roads or firelanes. After about 10am, hunters get cold and bored so they start moving. Let them drive the deer to you. So find crossings where the deer use frequently, and pick an ambush spot.

    IMO, you have very little hope of walking a deer up. There senses are too sharp, and they probably will not let you get too close, and when they bolt, they are hard to hit. So plan on hunting on a tree stand. A stand up in a tree, helps get your scent and movement above the trees and their typical line of sight. Deer will look up.

    SUPPOSEDLY: deer move with respect to thermal air currents. They travel the top of the ridge in the morning when the warming air moves upward. Then they can smell anything in the lower areas. They travel along the lower areas during the evening when the thermal currents are moving down. There are exceptions when they are under pressure. But usually, if you find a deer trail on a ridge, it is a morning trail, and one in the valley is an evening trail. In their normal routine anyway.

    Here is my tip of the day: When you go into the woods to hunt, before entering the woods, scrape up some fresh dirt with your boots. That will help get any odors off or covered. When you get to your stand, do it again, it will stir up dirt scent, and a buck may think it is the scrape of a rival and want to check it out. Drop a few drops of doe in heat urine in it, and you may call it bait.

    Don't put your stand right next to a trail. Stay back a bit. Hunt the trail, not on the trail. If possible, don't travel the deer trail going to your stand.

    I am getting tired of typing so I will wrap up.

    Deer hunting magazines will have a lot more info in them. Now is the typical scouting season so they will have a lot of articles on scouting.

    If you don't bowhunt, start. Bowhunting gives you another 6-9 weeks to be in the woods and pattern deer. If you want to take your son gun hunting, being in the woods during bow season will help you have a more successful gun season.
     
  13. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    I started deer hunting in 1964... never missed a season since. I wholeheartedly agree with everything Hard Charger said... except his last sentence.

    To all the seasoned deer hunters out there, the following will seem very strange... but I swear it's true. I now use my own piss to attract bucks during the rut. For years, I routinely carried an empty plastic bottle to pee in, along with my thermos of coffee (my coffee-in, coffee-out system). ;) Then one time, a few years ago, I was bowhunting the rut, and I had forgotten my pee bottle... but I had drank my whole quart of coffee. I had to "go" real bad, so I just pissed down onto the snow covered ground, from my 20' high tree-stand. I wasn't about to climb down, then back up again... besides, I waited too long, and I'd never had made it down, and out of the area in time. About 20 minutes later, to my utter amazement, a 6 point buck came from behind me, right into the wind, and went straight to the "yellow snow", sniffed around, and then he started to make a scrape... right in the middle of where I had pissed. I stuck an arrow in his spine before he was done. I threw my pee bottle away. It's worked several more times since.
     
  14. ice

    ice Guest

    All of the above. And go where the numbers are if possible. More deer usually mean a better success rate.
     
  15. Hard Charger

    Hard Charger Plotting Member

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    For your hunting;

    Deer use the moon as a clock. Those times when you see the moon up early in the evening or late in the morning are good hunting times. Full moons are a big deer mover. You may notice that the seasons also close for a lot of those times. Usually, bow season is open during the good moon phases. I have always seen more deer when the moon was up.

    Really cold weather will make the deer move. The biggest buck I have ever seen was in 6 degree weather. So plan on hunting the really cold days.
     
  16. BrianDamage

    BrianDamage YouTalkin'ToMe?

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    Deer & Deer Hunting did a study either last year or the year before...out of 4 test scents, these are the order in which they attracted the most deer

    1)Human Urine
    2)New Car Scent
    3)Deer Urine
    4)Water

    there is actually a scent out now that is basically dehydrated deer urine & scents. You can either use water or pee in the bottle to rehydrate.

    That being said, I still use a treestand urinal...mainly to keep down the noise of liquid hitting leaves.
     
  17. Rooster Rugburn

    Rooster Rugburn Got Pignose?

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    I have issues with telegraphing to deer that I am in the area. Taking a leak does just that.

    I would be interested to know what time of year they tried whiz as a lure, the sex of the deer that showed up, and how big and old the bucks were that were attracted to it

    It would stand to reason that deer don't smell human urine very often, so it may arouse their curiosity. But I have a hard time believing that a mature buck would fall for it.
     
  18. rfb45colt

    rfb45colt safe-cracker

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    Does and fawns have simply ignored it. Every single buck that has been close enough to scent it, came and gave it a good sniff. From little button bucks, all the way up to mature 8 & 10 pointers (but the big guys only show up in the pre-rut frenzy). As BrianDamage has said, Deer & Deer Hunting magazine did some research on this. They deduced that bucks were attracted to it due to their natural territorial instincts... especially during the rut, for the big guys. The immature bucks probably do so out of curiosity.

    All I know is that it works. Another reason I now know that human urine does not necessarily "repel" deer, is the deer are constantly in my wife's flower garden. She had tried every repellant sold locally to keep them away... nothing worked. So I volunteered to help. Being a long time user of a pee bottle while hunting, I believed as most other hunters do, that by pissing in the area, the deer would vamoose. I filled a 2 gallon laundry detergent bottle with my pee, over the course of several days. When it was full, I poured it around the garden's perimeter, several yards back into the woods behind the garden. Later that afternoon, just at dusk, the deer showed up for their daily garden "raid". The 4 does just walked right over it, but a forkhorn buck stopped to smell my "deterrant". He spent several minutes sniffing around, then began making a scrape right there. I figured the deer expected human scents to be there, but not out in the woods where I hunt, so I continued to use a pee bottle while hunting. Then the incident I described in my earlier post happened, then I read the article in Deer & Deer Hunting. I was convinced. No more lugging around a pee bottle for me... and I still get frequent shots at deer, every season since I quit the bottle thing. I won't claim that I do so to attract big bucks... but I certainly do NOT believe it will chase them away either. I've seen too much proof to the contrary... but YMMV.
     
  19. Rooster Rugburn

    Rooster Rugburn Got Pignose?

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    very interesting, thanks.
     
  20. Rebeldon

    Rebeldon

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    I understand that smoking doesn't bother whitetail either. Go figure.