Where are all the deer? Right under your nose! - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

I enjoy reading both current hunting articles as well as back issues during the course of the year. Iím not one for memorizing things, so I often revisit them periodically. There was a good article written in PA Game & Fish magazine in the Nov 2009 issue titled "Stand Sites for Public-Land Whitetails.

One of the first points made came via data from a 2001-2002 gps study of hunters during the first week of rifle season. The study revealed that the majority of hunters surveyed and tracked, hunted less than 1/3 mile from a road and hardly any hiked back to where researchers believed the deer were.

I think most hunters would agree, that unless pressured during rifle season, deer hold tight and are reluctant to move, or hold up in an area that sees little pressure. Where are these areas of little pressure? I tend to find these areas that are hard to get to, very thick, steep and located a mile+ from roads and main access trails etc... I use topo maps to find these areas. Also, thru scouting I have found deer sanctuaries located in the center of what I call "steel trees" that are 6-8' tall and grow extremely close to each other making it very hard to navigate. I try to find deer trails that lead to the center of these areas and often find tons of sign and deer. One set back is that you usually need open sights in an area like this and are often relegated to sitting on the ground.

The next great point the article focused on were funnels or bottlenecks. In my experience, these areas are great, if deer are pressured to use them. For instance, behind our cabin is a funnel created by a deer enclosure on one side and a steep hill on the other. Every year the camp above use hunt their stands behind our property, deer are pressured to use this funnel. I have seen 12 deer single file using this funnel. One set back is I usually look at each deer passing by to determine if any are shooter bucks. When I get to the last deer, I have to decide whether to harvest that doe or wait another minute, hour or half day for a potential buck to be following or passing thru. Every year I see deer using this funnel IF, the camp behind use hunts their stands. The days they hunt, we see deer. The days they do not hunt behind their cabin, we do not see any deer. The times we see deer are simple. In the am when the hunters above us enter their stand, at lunch when they leave to eat and in the afternoon when they return.

So what I learned from this article is to use pressure to your advantage. Hunt areas that see little to no pressure to find deer held up, and use pressure to your advantage when hunting around other people. Let them move the deer to you. This also reinforces my belief that there are plenty of deer in PA, people just have to adapt and find them, because deer are adapting not to be found. Successful hunters put time and effort in and are often rewarded for doing so.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 02:13 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

Great post , lots of good information by someone that Must be a successful hunter .
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

I have friends that are way more successful that I try to learn from. Growing up I use to just sit with my father in a hunting spot that "looked" good. My father, friends and others that I have talked to that have shot one deer in their 30 plus years of hunting all had things in common. They didnt scout much, hunted were they could easily get in and out, and never sat in an area all day or moved to another spot close by. Before I could hunt on my own I really had no say in choosing a hunting spot. Once I became old enough to hunt a spot on my own, I didnt want to waste an entire day hunting an area that "looked" good, I wanted to find an area that held deer. So I asked a lot of questions to some very successful hunters, took alot of advice and try to dedicate some time to scouting. I almost always see deer when hunting archery or rifle, and have gotten my fair share over the years, but I continue to learn.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 04:54 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

with the total of deer i have taken since i started hunting in 1982, i have an avg of 2 deer a year with many of those years i went deer-less eating tag soup ....do i think i'm a great hunter? nope, but i do know where deer are and find them ....and yes they are right under people's nose's in most cases.......bob

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 07:49 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

I think that is why people don't see a lot of deer any more no one hunting them,or moving them around. They will hold tight if not literly steped on.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 10:49 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

Where I hunt on public land the area is pressured from the bottom of the mountain to the top, especially the first two days. The thicket I hunted last year is bordered on two sides by a road that gets traveled alot during the season. I was in the middle of the thicket on a ladder stand, the roads were only 100 yards away, on the side and in the front. That buck you see in my avatar is the one I killed last year the first day there. A total of 16 deer went by me before Mr. Buck came along.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 11:04 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

All good advice. I LOVE those little thickets too!

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 09:49 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

Right on...The public I hunt is long ridge mountain think like blue mountain...Well the parking area is half way up the mountain...and a road runs the lenght of the mountain halfway up. 90% of the hunters go in on that road and hunt the middle area of the mountain. I hike to the top and sit on the backside...Its funny the backside is where the deer bed and feed all day. I killed a doe that ran from the top to the lower road and died last year on the last friday...I ran into a hunter and he said you got the last one in here. I decided against telling him that i had seen 6 other doe and two bucks that morning before the deer i shot ran over to me as part of a group a 12...Literally i was hunting probably within 1/3 of a mile of this guy. Its just funny..guys complain there are no deer yet everytime i hunted that gamelland and walked to the top of the mountain and sat I saw 10 deer or more. The deer use the side that all the guys hunt but its not where they spend there time they pass thru to the fields and if conditions arent right you will see no deer.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 10:03 PM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

IMO most of the deer are found in small woodlots that are around buildings and such. These areas don't see alot of human activity and the deer hole up there and don't travel out until after dark. Some of these lots are still legal and safe to hunt if you are careful. My own property is a small and thick area but it holds many deer. I went for a walk there today and kicked up 3 groups of deer that were bedded in that little 40 acre section. I didn't count tails but it was probably around a dozen deer I had moved. There are houses within 1000 yards all around this parcel but it holds many deer and is safe to hunt.

There is another section of woods near my mothers house that is totaly surrounded by houses and commercial buildings that holds lots of deer. This area is probably around 20 acres square but the deer can get to other small patches of woods in the area as well. It could be hunted from a treestand and be safe to shoot a flinter with a heavy conical and drop deer without them going far. I don't think I would want to use a bow (might run into someones yard or on to a commercial area) or a centerfire but it would still be legal and safe to do if you used the terrain right. Anyway don't overlook the small areas as they hold some nice deer.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 12:03 AM
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Re: Where are all the deer? Right under your nose!

Well as much as some will try, all hunters are not equal. Learned that years ago, starting in PA. Some deer lands are great, few hunters venture in them. Some are small and most hunters wouldn't believe deer could live there. A place to feed, water and cover is all the deer need.
I learned a lot about hunters by learning about fishermen. I'd do a lot of exiting near a county park. There were always fisherman on the shore. They would take a look at my catch and say how lucky I was.
They spent their time waiting for the fish; I spent my time moving and hunting the fish.
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